We explore the psyche of a blackmailer. Not all have the same style or the same characterological features: some are passive; Others, quite aggressive; Some are direct and others subtle; Some tell us very clearly what the consequences will be if we contradict them, and others, at last, emphasize how much we are making them suffer.
But beyond how different they may appear at first sight, they all have broad features in common, characteristics that fuel their manipulative behavior. We will see how these blackmailers use fear, obligation, and guilt, as well as other weapons, and we will understand what drives them to act the way they do.
Fear – fear of loss, fear of change and rejection, fear of loss of power – is the common ground on which all the people who become blackmailers move. In some cases, these fears lie in a long history of feelings of anguish and ineptitude. In others, they may be the answer to more recent uncertainties and stresses, which have undermined their self-esteem and their feelings of competence and security. The potential for becoming a blackmailer increases suddenly as fears accumulate in that person’s life. They will easily see certain triggering events, such as sentimental rejection by another person, the loss of a job, a divorce,
The price we pay when we repeatedly give in to emotional blackmail is enormous. The comments and attitudes of the blackmailer make us feel unbalanced, embarrassed and guilty. We know that we have to change the situation and, repeatedly, we promise that we will do it, only to find ourselves, again and again, mocked and manipulated, as we have again fallen into an ambush.
We begin to doubt our ability to keep the promises we make and we lose confidence in our efficiency. Our self-esteem is eroding. And the worst of it is, perhaps, that every time we surrender to emotional blackmail, we lose touch with our own integrity, that inner compass that helps us determine what our values and behavior should be. Although emotional blackmail is not a violent psychophysical abuse, one should not be tempted to assume that the price paid is not very high. When we live with him, emotional blackmail eats and expands to the point of deeply damaging our most important relationships and self-esteem.
Without our consent, the blackmailer becomes totally impotent.
In order for someone’s behavior to be termed “emotional blackmail,” it must have certain components. We can make that diagnosis in the same way that a doctor would determine that a person has some physical discomfort: analyzing the limits.
Jim wants something from Elena. It suggests that, since the relationship between the two is so close and that they share much of the day, the most logical thing would be to go live together. “I’m practically living in your house,” Jim tells Elena. The only thing we lack is to make this situation official. ” He adds that, since Elena’s department is very large and that, in any case, half of her belongings are already there, the transition would be very simple.
There are times when blackmailers do not express so clearly or want to, but try to get the other to guess. Jim, for example, could have made his wish indirectly: resentment at the occasion of a friend’s marriage and say, after asking Elena, insistently, what was the matter with him: “I wish I could share more time with you; Sometimes I feel so alone … “, to add, finally, that he would like to go and live with her.
At first glance, Jim’s suggestion seems born of a deep love and does not have the connotations of a lawsuit. But soon it is evident that he is determined to get what he wants and that he does not intend to discuss the subject or change his mind.
Elena, the idea that Jim moves into her house bothers her and expresses that feeling by telling her that she is not ready for that fundamental change in the relationship. He loves him very much, but for now, I want him to have his own home.
If Elena were a less direct and outspoken person, her opposition might come to be expressed in another way. Maybe he will distance himself from Jim, show himself less affectionate, or tell him that he has decided to paint his apartment and that he will have to take his stuff until he is finished with the work. On the contrary, it expresses its resistance unambiguously and the message is clear. The answer is no”.
When Jim realizes that Elena does not react as he wants, he does not make the slightest effort to understand her feelings, but on the contrary, he pushes her to change her mind. At first, he acts as if he is willing to discuss the subject, but that discussion becomes a monolog that has the tone of a sermon. It transforms Elena’s statement into an exposé of her faults and raises her own desires and demands as something extremely positive. “I just want the best for both of us. I want to give you more things. When two people love each other, they should want to share their daily lives. Or do not you want to share your life with me? If you were not so self-centered, you could open yourself to the good things in life. ”
She immediately moves to a more seductive attitude and asks: “Do not you love me enough to have me always by your side ?. Another blackmailer could increase the pressure by vehemently insisting that, by living together, the bond between the two will narrow and the relationship will still improve. Whatever style is used, the pressure ends up appearing, even if it is disguised as benevolent expressions such as, for example, Jim’s when expressing how much it hurts Elena’s reluctance.
When you see your wishes clash against a wall, Jim lets Elena know that if she does not give in to her request, she will suffer the consequences of her refusal. The blackmailer can threaten to cause pain or misery. You can tell us how much we are making you suffer. He will try to conquer us with promises concerning everything he will give us or how much he will love us if we do what he asks of us. Jim presses Elena with veiled threats: “If you can not make this kind of commitment, after all, we share and mean for each other, maybe we’d better start trying to meet somebody else.” It does not directly threaten to break the relationship, but Elena finds it impossible to ignore what his words imply.
Elena does not want to lose Jim and tells herself that it may be a mistake on her part to tell her that she does not want her to go live with her, even though the idea of cohabitation is still uncomfortable. He has analyzed his objections to dissuade her. Some months later, Elena resigns her resistance and Jim moves to his house.
Jim’s triumph follows a period of peace and serenity. Now that he has gotten what he wanted, distress the pressure and the relationship seems to stabilize. Elena remains uncomfortable with the situation generated, but also feels a great relief to have been freed of the pressure and recovered the love and the approval of Jim. The latter, for his part, has proven that putting pressure on Elena and making her feel guilty is an infallible recipe to get what you can think of. And Elena has realized that the quickest way to cut through Jim’s pressure tactics is to give in to his desires. In this way, the basis for a reiterative scheme of demands, pressures, and capitulations has been established. These six characteristics form the core of the emotional blackmail syndrome.
The emotional blackmailer constructs his strategy consciously and unconsciously based on the information we give him about what causes us fear. They observe what we flee and what things make us nervous, they notice how we react physically in response to the things we feel. It is not that they actively take note and record the information to use it against us; we all absorb that kind of knowledge about the people around us. In emotional blackmail. Fear also transforms the blackmailer. In a simple way, we can say that the emotional blackmailer’s fear of not getting what he wants becomes so intense that the only thing he can do is focus his attention on the desired result, which makes it impossible for us to take our eyes off the target and to perceive how its behavior affects us.
In this instance, all the information they have collected about us in the course of the relationship becomes their tool to close a deal fueled by the fear of the two parties involved, the conditions they put us are tailor made for us: yes You do what I ask, I do not:
I will abandon you.
I will censure you.
I will stop loving you.
I will scream at you.
I will make you suffer.
I will oppose your will.
I’ll fire you.
All they care about is
themselves: All the blackmailers we’ve seen focus their attention almost entirely on their own needs and the way their pressures affect us do not care in the slightest. The characteristics that make us vulnerable to emotional blackmail:
Excessive need for approval.
A deep fear of the anger and anger of those around us.
A great need for peace, whatever its price.
A tendency to take too much responsibility for the lives of others.
A high level of insecurity with respect to our value and capacity
Who trains the emotional blackmailer?
When you are pressured by a blackmailer:
change or cancel important plans and appointments
give in, hoping it is the last time
You find it difficult or impossible:
Defend your position or your own needs
Face what is happening to you
Let the blackmailer know that his behavior is unacceptable
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are acting as a coach and a protagonist in the drama of emotional blackmail.