Forward says you are being emotionally blackmailed if important people in your life:
- Threaten to make your life difficult, or constantly threaten to end the relationship, or threaten to hurt themselves if you don’t do what they want.
- Regularly ignore or discount your feelings, needs and desires.
- Make lavish promises that are contingent on your behavior—and then rarely keep them.
- Consistently label you as selfish, bad, greedy, unfeeling or uncaring when you don’t give into them.
- Shower you with approval when you give in to them—and take it away when you don’t.
- Use money as a weapon to get their way.
Emotional blackmailers are skillful manipulators. They frequently wind up threatening us in order to get their way, or burying us under a load of guilt and self-reproach when they don’t. In such relationships, we keep our focus on the other person’s needs at the expense of our own, says Forward. We have avoided conflict, confrontation and the power struggle—but also the chance for a healthy relationship.