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I lived with an emotional blackmailer who found fucking with my head wasn't enough and started getting physical - that's when I left. The horrible thing is, if he hadn't started doing that, I would probably still be living with him because the emotional blackmail he was dishing out really had me caught. Even more horrifying though is that some months later I found myself using the same emotional blackmail techniques on others around me.

That was some years ago now - I hope I have enough perspective to write a good guide, here it is....

Jerks who Fuck with Your Mind - and Your Compassion: the Emotional Blackmailer

by KR

I don't know which is worse - the "Patronising Mind-Fucker" or the "Co-Dependent Emotional Blackmailer". Both are jerks, and both types can be male or female, from any walk of life.

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 of you.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    WRONG!!!

    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".

  3. 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'

  4. "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).

  5. "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.

  6. "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.

    HORSESHIT!

    There comes a time when you take responsiblity for your own life - otherwise you become your abuser. TELL THEM TO GROW UP AND GET OVER IT.

    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.

  7. "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 easily.

    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 TO.

    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.

  8. CRYING

    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 useful tool.

    Tell him/her to stop snivelling and start acting like an adult, not a little brat.

  9. 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 everything else!"

    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 actually!"

  10. "If You Leave/Take that Job/Do Something I Don't Like I'll 'Do Something Silly'"

    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 themselves.

    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 a dungeon.

    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.





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