Perhaps the emotional blackmailer is the worst because at least with the
patronising mind fucker you KNOW s/he is being a bastard, you just can't
put your finger on it. Emotional blackmailers, once they have
sucked you into their web of control, don't irritate you - they worry you,
stress you out, make you feel guilty and try to suck the life blood out
To ensure you do not get to this low pass in life, here is a list of
"DANGER!!! EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE AHEAD!" signposts to look out for:
S/he can be very charming and seem to want to rush into friendship/a
relationship with you.
This is how they suck you in:
"I'm tired of my other so-called friends, they've done nothing but
bad-mouth me behind my back or they've just abandoned me for no reason.
You are someone I can trust. We really get on well together. Let's go
get something to eat, get to know each other better."
Sounds cosy doesn't it? But notice the distancing of the two of you from
others- the "so-called friends" - even if they're your friends too. S/he
wants to isolate you from outside influences so they can have your
undivided attention for their problems/crises/secrets.
- People from his/her past never have a good word to say about him/her.
This should be a huge warning flare - but hey - the emotional
blackmailer has been nothing but charming and supportive to you. This
must be the "Pyscho ex-wife/husband/girfriend/boyfriend/friends" the
emotional blackmailer has warned you about - even if you know these
people are sane and good judges of character. You figure they must just
have had a misunderstanding.
They speak from bitter experience - and there is nothing more bitter
than having your emotions USED by an emotional blackmailer.
LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY - and you'll be suprised at what your
charming new girl/boyfriend/friend has done in the past.
If you bring up past incidents to the emotional blackmailer he/she will
either deny it entirely, or say that the other person is to blame (no
personal responsiblity). If they admit the incident happened, they will
claim that the other person brought it on his/herself by being a)selfish,
b)psycho, or c) that they actually -wanted- it, and now they're lying to
try to get back at him/her "because they are jealous".
- S/he is very emotionally deep.
No one cares as much or as deeply about
things (especially you) as s/he does.
The emotional blackmailer will have a lot of books by "really depressed
people" on their shelf. They will either know them by heart or just keep
them around to prove their "deepness". Expect to find a lot of Bukowski.
They will listen to "dark" music (the Cure seems to crop up a lot, but
this is no denigration of the average Cure fan -that's a whole different
guide)- if this includes a lot of dramatic classical music, so much the
better in order to impress you with their emotional depth.
This is to provide the emotional blackmailer with a "depressed" kind of
persona - to let you know even before they talk about it in detail, that
they get depressed sometimes and occasionally contemplate suicide. It is
also to impress on you how genuine and sincere they are - other people
are such 'fakes'
- "I'm Just So Confused"
The emotional blackmailer uses this excuse to get you to listen to their
never-ending stream of problems.
At first it seems like you're helping them out as a friend/lover, then
it becomes a full time counselling job.
It is bullshit. --It's just one more way of putting major and minor
decisions into someone else's (usually your's) hands. And then using the
emotional blackmail device of "but I trusted you when you said this
would be the best thing to do" if things go wrong. Or it is one more way
of keeping you around when you really want an answer to an ultimatum: ie
"either commit or I leave"
"but I can't make up my mind, I'm confused about it. Give me some more
time to make a decision that's best for both of us - stop rushing me
you're making me upset"
The other tactic employed is "If I'm confused, you must really be having
a hard time with it" and encouraging you to bare your soul.
The information the emotional blackmailer receives during this seemingly
confidential and mutually trusting session will be stored away and,
sooner or later, be used against you to the blackmailer's advantage or
out of spite when things go wrong (and they WILL).
- "Help me, I'm a failure, I'm so sorry."
The emotional blackmailer appeals to your sense of compassion by
regularly appearing miserable and depressed: "I've screwed everything up
my whole life. I can't believe it's happening again"
They want your sympathy. Everyone has these days. NOT everyone has them
every week. When this starts happening on a regular basis tell him/her
to get off their butt and start doing something about it. You can only
wallow for so long there with them before it gets really tiresome. Do
not be sympathetic - suggest positive things and if all they want is
your shoulder to cry on yet again then walk away. It is a childish way
to get more attention from you.
- "The reason I'm nasty/an alcoholic/a beater/drug addict is because you
make me do it/we're co-dependent."
The emotional blackmailer will take absolutely no responsibilty for
their problems - YOU are supposed to solve them. YOU are supposed to
support them by not doing any of the things that even hint at letting
them be tempted by their addiction. And if you don't, or life is just
too stressful, then you drive them to the bottle/violence/drugs. If they
are trying to get your sympathy for just having beaten you up/yelled at
you they will say they can't help themselves, their parents/former
partners did it to them and they don't know any different.
There comes a time when you take responsiblity for your own
life - otherwise you become your abuser. TELL THEM TO GROW UP AND GET
Then leave. Or throw them out until they get help.
Unfortunately they may have sought help from books that tell them they
are "co-dependent" ie that again, the other person is responsible
for/contributing to their bad behaviour:
"You have a drink when you get home so I can't help but get drunk too.
You're dragging me down"
Hello! - there is a big difference between sharing a drink after work and
drinking until you are totally drunk. One or two drinks is not bad. It
does not instantly make you into an alcoholic - you are not the
emotional blackmailer or his/her parents/former partners - you are fine
it is the blackmailer who has the problem NOT EVERYONE ELSE.
- "There's no one I can talk to but you"
You are tired of playing camp counsellor to this sad fool. You try to
change the subject when their favourite moan starts coming into your
conversations, but the emotional blackmailer won't let you get away that
Because their behaviour has alienated them from most of their former
friends they will whine "but you're the only one I can talk to about
this. No one else understands/cares". You try to suggest others who
could help, but they strike each suggestion down - it is you and only
you who can help.
You start to feel trapped.
LEAVE NOW!! You CANNOT help them all by yourself. And YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE
It is the emotional blackmailer's responsibility to seek someone who is
willing (or PAID BY THE HOUR) to help them if they really are having bad
problems. If they will not listen to suggestions they get professional
help then they are probably not having a serious problem or they are
fixated with you finding all the answers/being THE answer for them.
Everyone hates this ploy. Male or female, it is embarrassing when
someone else uses crying regularly to get you to do something or to
guilt you into staying with them. It is the emotional blackmailer's most
Tell him/her to stop snivelling and start acting like an adult, not a
- The Silent Treatment
Also an effective tool. You come home, there is no reply to any
questions or greetings.
When you ask what is wrong you are met by a sullen stare or the
emotional blackmailer moves away from you or leaves the room.
There is a lot of heavy sighing. You ask again and again what is the
matter and you are met with "you know what you've done" or "if you don't
know/can't guess, then I'm not going to tell you", or "if you were
more sensitive to MY needs, you'd understand", or the -classic-,
"If you REALLY loved me, you'd KNOW...."
We're really communicating here! But the emotional blackmailer certainly
has your undivided attention and concern - you are having to think about
everything you have done over the past week and try to remember what you
have not done. They want you to PULL every detail out of them, and they
get off on the control and power they have over you at this point. Some
will not even break out of their melancholy state until they have YOU in tears
or yelling and upset with them.
This is time consuming and irritating in the extreme. If you do get
angry and frustrated, they will adopt a victim stance: "Oh, and now you
are yelling at me - just look at what I have to put up with on top of
The best way to combat this blackmail ploy is not to take the bait -
keep on talking merrily away to the blackmailer until they are driven
nuts and forced to ask, "Aren't you going to ask why I'm not talking to
you?" to which you say "No, I've been enjoying the break from you WHINING
- "If You Leave/Take that Job/Do Something I Don't Like I'll 'Do
People DO get depressed - who doesn't? But people who like to give the
impression they would kill themselves over something or someone they
"Care Deeply About" are assholes who have not gotten over their teenage
heartbreak about Kurt Cobain. It is a deliberate and childish emotional
blackmail device, so look out for it.
When the emotional blackmailer says s/he will 'do something silly' or
even 'I'll kill myself' this is a definite threat - to you, not to
They are bringing out the big guns. They are trying to get you to be
responsible for their suicide/them smashing up the house/getting injured
while driving drunk/whatever -- if you do not do as you are told.
This is about the nastiest thing someone can do to you - it is NOT a
sign of devotion or eternal friendship: It is the most scary and effective
method of controlling what you do or don't do short of chaining you up in
Usually this threat is made more than once. People from his/her past
will say they heard the same thing.
Leave immediately and don't call or look back - you will find the
blackmailer does not kill him/herself (but if s/he does so much the
better!). They may smash up your stuff and try to blacken your name but
then they will find someone else to manipulate.