In today’s time and age, emotional blackmail has become a common behavior trait found in most people. It causes the victims to feel vulnerable and answerable to those who they are close to or those who know them well.

Relationships can either enhance one’s self-esteem or break it. Someone close to you can be a threat as they know your weakness and may use emotional blackmail against you to get what they want. Ultimately, as a victim, you succumb to fear, obligation, and guilt. Hence, it helps if you are able to identify the signs when someone tries to emotionally blackmail you.

Warning Signs of People Who Use Emotional Blackmail

We all know people in our lives who use emotional blackmail to get something they want. It could be anyone from your family or friends. Encountering it may not be the most pleasant experience.

But it is essential to keep in mind, not to fall prey to their actions. With all the manipulative people out there, in some phase of life, you will experience such individuals. But with specific warning signs, you can avoid them.

Mostly, people who are insecure for some reason resort to emotional blackmail. They manipulate your decisions by reacting negatively to the choices you make. They often try to intimidate you until you do what they ask you to. This is a clear warning sign of emotional blackmail.

You will find them constantly trying to blame or accuse you of doing something they don’t approve of. They will never hesitate to make you suffer in public or create drama to get you to cheer them up.

These are some signs to identify people who use emotional blackmail. But we often miss out on these signs as these people can appear to be so charming that you easily submit to their needs.

Tactics of Emotional Blackmailers

A person who uses emotional blackmail typically uses the Fear-Emotion-Guilt tactic. They start with an outrage to baffle the victim and put them in a state of fear. And makes the victim feel answerable. The manipulator slyly uses the victim’s sensibilities and emotions to make them appear wrong. They use sentiments to divert their attention from facts and instead make it an emotional mess.

Once they notice you let your guard down, they charge you guilty. And if you don’t defend yourself, you fall for it. Even if you haven’t done any wrong, you end up guilty and apologizing in the situation. Here are a few personality types that commonly use it.

Types of People That Resort to Emotional Blackmail


Narcissistic people believe that they are the best at everything and proudly brag about it. They tend to down upon people, and emotional blackmail is one of their common traits.

They undermine others’ decision-making skills and always want to have the last word. To make that happen, they are even willing to destroy those around them.

Loud and Dramatic

We all know certain people who are loud and are always looking for an opportunity to create drama. They create a big issue out of every little thing. From sly comments to condescending remarks – they try everything to get their way.

Their insecurity drives them to look for approval from others. They emotionally blackmail their partners by making them feel guilty about their instability.


This is another typical personality that uses emotional blackmail as a strategy. Passive-aggressive people tend to express hostility indirectly – through insults, stubbornness, or even deliberate failure.

Since they cannot communicate straightforwardly, they tend to use sarcasm and emotional manipulation as a defense mechanism.

Insecure/Low Self-Esteem

Those with low self-esteem often develop the trait of emotional blackmailing. They are unable to express their true feelings and hence resort to using other methods of control.

They try to make you feel inadequate to avoid feeling worthless themselves. They use emotional blackmail and try to bring your self-esteem down. They blame others for their powerlessness or insecurities and try to grab attention when their self-esteem is violated.


You can’t talk about emotional blackmail without discussing the highly critical people out there. These people use guilt and emotional blackmail to manipulate and control situations that are out of their hand.

Their intimidation goes so far that the victim starts believing that they are bringing them on the right path. They have a very condescending tone and try to undermine the person.

These are some types of people that commonly use emotional blackmail to control the outcome. We all possess a certain level of insecurity and have our defense mechanisms, but as long as we have self-control, things will not get out of hand.

In any given situation, you need to observe and recognize any signs of emotional blackmail or manipulative people, in order to avoid them and put a stop to it. We have our own opinions, which influence our choices. And no level of emotional blackmail should be able to influence those choices.

So starting today, identify the types of people who use emotional blackmail, and steer clear to avoid getting involved in it.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Luna

    There are several points in this article that require examples and several more that are not quite accurate .
    Such as, Those are not warning signs, they are traits.
    Loud and dramatic people are all narcissists. But not all narcissists are loud and dramatic.
    Passive aggressive people usually do not use insults due to their demeanor. They will however use snide comments.

    An example of emotional blackmail;
    person 1. So i was thinking we would go eat italian tonight.
    Person 2. Oh. Italian?
    #1. Do you not want italian?
    #2. No,no… italian is fine i guess. Its just we had pasta twice this week. Thats all. But italian is fine.

    Right away, person 2 made person 1 question themself.
    Then they drove that questioning home by stating pasta twice that week.
    The last sentence of but its fine, is basically stating they will suffer through person 1s plan
    Thus manipulating person 1 into eating what they want while also making person 1 feel self consious n guilty.

    Sadly, there is no way to avoid manipulative people. You can avoid falling into their trap.

    They also tend to use the always and never idium to get their way. Its most obvious with children.
    Mom you never let me watch tv.
    Dad your always on the phone.

    In adults it is more subtle.
    I know i cheated, but your never home.
    I tried talking to you but you never listen. ;

    You can avoid their trap, by standing your ground. No matter how bad they have made you feel, don’t let them see it.
    By honest and direct in your dealing with someone trying to emotionally blackmail you.
    Each person uses different tactics. But watch for those always and nevers, and also that question after u make a decision.

    1. Paul Dalton

      Thanks Luna most helpful your words

    2. Tamkee

      You define nicely. Thanks dear

  2. Alex

    Really a very nice and insightful read. This happens in almost every sphere of life – home, workplace and even governments sometimes use emotional blackmail against their citizens to achieve certain objectives.

    This article will be helpful to the ‘victims’ who are making efforts to get extricated from this shackle as well as some manipulators who are making efforts to change.


  3. Eric

    Thank you

  4. davejhiltaylor

    Great insight. They always think they are the victim and do not acknowledge their actions. Always blame others so they don’t feel bad and most of all, do not care about others mental health as long as they Get what they Want

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