How To Handle Emotional Blackmail In A Relationship

Last Update on August 1, 2022 : Published on August 1, 2022
How to handle emotional blackmail in a relationship

Are you subjected to emotional blackmail in a relationship where your partner is trying to control your every move and you just feel crazy? It is hard to deal with such emotional manipulation where you feel vulnerable with your partner instead of feeling loved and secure.

Do you know what emotional blackmail is in a relationship?

Emotional blackmail is a form of manipulation where one of the partners forces their demands by threatening the other. The person will try to create fear, guilt, and frustration to make it happen. Even if you agree to their demands, you are still being victimized by their negative behavior.

When there is emotional blackmail in a relationship, one partner is always trying to make the other feel guilt and shame for not being there for them. They make the others do things by simply talking about how miserable or alone they are. They use emotions as a weapon to get their way without realizing how damaging it is for their partner.

Some other examples of emotional blackmail in a relationship include:

  • If you ever talk to your friends, I will never talk to you.
  • If I find you looking at another woman, she will not be spared.
  • I will commit suicide if you leave me.
  • It is because of you that I didn’t get the promotion at work.

Handling emotional blackmail is definitely not easy but there is no need to sit back and feel the pain of being manipulated. Your voice is subsided and you just cannot figure out your own needs. This is why you should find out how to deal with blackmail in relationships so that you don’t feel intimidated again and hear your own voices beaming.

Signs Of Emotional Blackmail:

Although most people can recognize emotional blackmailing but when you are in a relationship it does become slightly difficult to notice. That is so because you love that person and you can’t fathom that they engage in emotional blackmail.
Let’s look at some signs of emotional blackmail so that it’s easier for you to notice it in a relationship;

  • The blackmailer partner will always act as a victim
  • They will put a lot of pressure on you
  • There is a high chance they’ll gaslight you
  • They will extract all your dark secrets out of you
  • They will not bat an eyelid before making a scene in public
  • They don’t support you, rather give your more stress
  • They demand undivided attention
  • They threaten you a lot

Types Of Emotional Blackmailers

  • Punishers: They threaten to hurt you emotionally as well as physically when their demands are not agreed.
  • Self-punishers: They try to hurt themselves if you don’t agree on their terms.
  • Sufferers: They show you that they will suffer if you take an unexpected turn.
  • Tantalizer: These people promise to improve things, which sparks hope in their partner. However, the threat never leaves the relationship.

Stages Of Emotional Blackmail

There are a few stages of emotional blackmail that we all must know about. To identify emotional blackmail in a relationship you must know what the different stages of emotional blackmail look like. These stages of emotional blackmail show how emotional blackmailing works.

Emotional blackmailing is a two-way street, one manipulates and the other gives in. let’s see how emotional blackmailing works in the form of emotional blackmailing stages;

1. Demand

Emotional blackmail usually begins with demands. The blackmailing partner opts for demanding things they need rather than asking for them politely. For example, they don’t want to hang out with your friends so they simply demand you turn a cold shoulder toward your friends.

2. Resistance

Now once the demand has been placed by the emotional blackmailer, your response is resistance. It’s the most obvious response because why would someone suddenly stop talking to their friends? But you also don’t want to hurt your partner so you go behind their back and still meet your friends.

3. Pressure

Stage three of emotional blackmail begins when your blackmailer partner catches you spending time with your friends. Then they will make you feel guilty for not listening to them and breaking their trust. You begin to feel guilty, there is also fear and obligation. You start feeling the pressure of trying to disappoint your partner.

4. Threats

Stage four of emotional blackmail is when things turn toxic. If you do not give in to the pressure and continue doing things they asked you not to, they will start threatening you. They might say things like, “If you don’t listen, I’ll have to leave you on your own”, “I can’t stay in a relationship where I am not respected”, etc

5. Compliance

Compliance is some of the final stages of emotional blackmail but it does that a lot of time to reach this stage. Compliance happens after a long time of being in fear, guilt, or obligation. Once you are tired of all the drama you decide to give in. This is where the emotionally blackmailing partner finally wins.

6. Repetition

Emotionally blackmailing someone into doing things you want can make you want more. If your blackmailing partner feels like they have been able to get what they wanted by emotionally blackmailing you, there are high chances they’ll repeat it.

How To Handle Emotional Blackmail In Relationships?

1. Set Boundaries For Yourself

Whenever you repel the blackmailing behavior of your partner or avoid the conversation during the phase, they get to understand that you will not take it anymore. Although it needs you to be courageous in the moment, such toxic behavior is just not acceptable. Scary, right? But here is how to begin to love yourself.

2. Tell Them That Love Doesn’t Have Space For Blackmailing

A famous quote says, ‘Some people earn love. Some people blackmail others into it.’ Make your partner understand that when a person loves you, they don’t need to threaten you for a healthy relationship. If threatened, you do not feel safe around the person and ultimately see the fall of a beautiful relationship.

3. Seek Help For Your Partner

The jealousy, emotional turmoil or lack of understanding between you two could be one the reasons why your partner is trying to emotionally blackmail you. They may need a psychologist or a therapist to keep the situation balanced. A therapist will help them uncover the real reasons behind their behavior and equip them with tools to deal with negative behavior.

With that, checkout the signs your relationship needs couple counseling. If you see active signs, drop us an email at to connect you with an experienced therapist.

4. Make A Positive Mindset

Believe it or not, your mindset plays an important role in dealing with emotional blackmail in a relationship. Tell yourself that you deserve respect and love! That’s it. Once you set your mindset, you try to deal with stressful situations in an optimistic way.

5. Choose a Healthy Relationship

You are never as weak that you cannot choose the kind of relationship and life with the person. You are free to negotiate the health of a relationship and can end it as per your personal choice. If things are getting out of hand and toxicity is on the rise, you know that moving on is certainly the best option, no matter how much emotional blackmail goes on. Be strong and choose what is right for you.

A Word From The Author

Remember, when a person is subjected to emotional blackmail in a relationship, they are compromising their self-esteem and integrity. Victims often find themselves isolated and find anxiety and depression surrounding them.

Hence, when you feel blackmailed next time then make sure that you take a step back and analyze the situation and make healthy choices for yourself.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.


  1. Forb

    So well put 👌 but can a person whose emotionally blackmailed take a legal action too

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