The Power of Emotional Blackmail

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Submitted by Arnold on
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Hi Y'all,

I've been learning some interesting things about the power of and my vulnerability to the emotional blackmail of women.

I have a friend who generally struggles a great deal in life. Being a single mom on welfare, its no surprise. This culture doesn't have a lot of compassion for women who reproduce without a very strong support structure in place. I help her out as much as I can and I'm seeing that when things get rough she resorts to emotional tactics that seem to me to be unconscious attempts to drag as much support as possible out of a very limited supply. The end result is the burning of bridge after bridge that could have offered her smaller amounts of support more willingly. I'm now seeing that her interest in my well-being is very limited. Her reproductive project takes front stage and top priority no matter what the effect on others or the world around her. I had the image of a semi going down the highway at breakneck speed, honking to us cyclists on the shoulder to get off the road completely or get flattened! I'm taking the next exit.

It's showing me some interesting stuff about the way women use emotion, its connection to reproductive drives, and how difficult it is for guys who are attached to their "nice guy" image, like me, to protect themselves from it. I wonder how many women realize the power of the effect of their emotional turmoil on their children? There was lots of very intense emotional turmoil in my mother's life when I was very young. It seems to have had a massive effect on my health and well-being.


I think you're right that

she is making her evolutionary task her top priority. This is normal, but tough on everyone around her. The task is overwhelming and humans evolved to share that burden. So it's no surprise that she feels extremely needy. We evolved as pair-bonders, after all.

And, yes, neediness can be very off-putting.

But, like her, you are primarily concerned with your own neediness, so you two are actually good mirrors of each other.

No one's to blame...but our inability to manage our relationships for sustainble harmony...and everyone suffers. Very sad. Just know that she may be a toxic friend right now, but she's not "out to get you." She's probably just feeling desperate.


I agree that she is helping me see things that I wouldn't see so easily otherwise. And yes, self-healing has to be my top priority right now (if I want to live at all). She's showing me how vulnerable I am to women's expressions of distress. The roots of this distress are often cultural and the women usually play a role too, but I tend to see it as MY problem. The stress that entails in me can be astronomical. This has got to change! Smile


Hi Marnia,

Thanks for your insights. I'm pondering my own neediness. It seems to be connected to a very deeply rooted need to be "Momma's boy" or the "Good Guy". Not so bad a thing on its own but when my body starts to pay for it, it's toxic. It's very hard for me to watch women go through such intense turmoil and talk of outcomes that are extremely disturbing to me. I understand that she's desperate. I'm learning to embrace the hard nosed man that I need to be for my own well-being and let her fully experience the consequences of her decisions.

It is sad. Tremendously sad. Part of my connection to her is an offer I made her a long time ago to be partners in healing. What that actually entails hasn't been clarified. She hasn't clearly responded to that offer. Until her child is up and gone, I doubt it will have much place in her life. Oh well.

Your comment about evolution reminds me of something I read attributed to Margaret Mead about the nuclear family. She claimed that this social structure was traditionally only used in times of war because it was the smallest and most mobile social structure that could still reproduce. With our world becoming dominated by single mom's and very mixed families, perhaps one day we will return to the tribal/communal lifestyle that dominated most of our history and make more progress towards Peace at all levels.

Social Context


I'm wondering about this "out of context" comment. If you think of humans as struggling with their relatively newly formed egos, then the context is exactly right. Our egos (and personalities that form its foundation) imagine separation and hence are at war with most of our surroundings and our inner world. The sex/reproduction obsessed nuclear family unit fits that context perfectly. It's at war internally as well as with our neighbours and our natural surroundings.

I'm hoping that at some point we will collectively and deeply understand the full value of Peace and start doing the things that support it. A very important aspect of that is sexual behaviour and its related social constructs. It seems to me that tribal/communal social constructs whose primary purpose is to nurture peace at all levels would be a good way to do that. First we need people who are less obsessed with their false egoic identities. The good news is that I can work on that in myself on my own.

Thanks for writing. I find your insights fascinating.



Know what you are talking about. My mom was very emotionally unstable and it has definitely affected me. I have always gotten into relationships where I could recreate that(including my current one).

We nice guys gotta get us some back and put boundaries, but in kindness, because it doesn't help us nor the woman doing the manipulating, that we fail to stand up for ourselves.

Thanks for sharing!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling with this. I realize that a middle ground is a good target. It would be relatively easy to go from abused to abuser. That doesn't do anyone any good. The primary focus of my own abuse has been my own body and man has it suffered! It's a very subtle and indirect way to express the toxicity I endured in my youth (which was, in its turn, subtle and culturally approved). Getting into my head that I have needs and that they are important has been a lot of work. Standing up for them has been even more. There is something about a mother-child bond that is extraordinarily powerful in my experience. Facing up to the toxic parts of it and healing them has been a big job for me. In my experience, there is alot of denial around women's ability to do harm in our culture. There is something terrifying about it. It unravels alot of what we take as normal and good.

Thank-you! :-)

Namaste my friend,


PS: These few words seem small, but I hope you receive them as strongly and as deeply as I feel them (Hands together nearly touching the nose, moist eyes). Peace at this level is soooo important to me.