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How to Tell if You’re the Victim of Emotional Blackmail

How To Handle Conflict In Your Relationship

Does your partner behave inappropriately and then blames you? This could be emotional blackmail.

Many relationships function on a level that isn’t healthy for either partner, yet each person seems willing to hold onto the relationship at all costs. Their love for each other and desire to remain in the relationship is stronger than the problems they’re going through.

This can most often be seen with lovers in cases of emotional blackmail. This is where one person behaves inappropriately within the relationship and then blames the other for the behavior. The partner receiving all the blame instantly feels guilty and inadequate and wants to try harder to please.

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An example of this kind of behavior could be when a man goes out to pick up a one-night-stand and is caught red-handed. Instead of apologizing to his partner and begging for forgiveness, he’ll immediately blame his partner for not being there for him and so he had to look elsewhere.

This makes the woman feel as though she’s not good enough, or not doing something right, and she tries to make amends by being a better partner, all the time watching her self-esteem drop lower and lower as she believes she’s not good enough to please her man. This is emotional blackmail and it’s unfair. In this example, the man is refusing to take responsibility for his indiscretion. The woman is accepting the responsibility for the weakness of another person.

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There are plenty of other situations where emotional blackmail can exist. Your partner might make you take responsibility for him or her failing to get ahead in a career. You might find that some couples blame each other for being held back financially or for being overweight or for having no friends.

No matter what the issue, emotional blackmail is a major cause of relationship breakdown.

Mending the Rift

If you believe you’re being emotionally blackmailed by your partner, remember that it’s not your job to take responsibility for another person’s actions and choices. Your partner made the choice to act a certain way given a certain situation and nothing forced him into doing it except his or her own mind.

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It’s important to talk calmly and rationally about the behavior and find out why your partner believes you’re at fault for his actions. Don’t accept responsibility for his actions.

When both partners in a relationship take responsibility for their own behavior and actions, it’s much easier to build a strong partnership based on trust and respect.

This guest article originally appeared on Is Your Partner Emotionally Blackmailing You? Here’s How To Tell.

How to Tell if You’re the Victim of Emotional Blackmail

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APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). How to Tell if You’re the Victim of Emotional Blackmail. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 7 Dec 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.