It takes two people to participate in emotional blackmail: the blackmailer and the unsuspecting recipient. The blackmailer uses F.O.G to disorient and manipulate. The unsuspecting recipient takes the emotional blackmail bait and buys into the fear, obligation and guilt. The F.O.G
acronym is the disguise that is used upon someone to get what the emotional blackmailer wants. “F” is for using fear to manipulate. “O” is for obligation, and “G” is for guilt.
Fear can be utilized to control someone’s behavior. The blackmailer may state that they will harm themselves if they are rejected or abandoned .Obligation is a clever trick where the blackmailer may try to get what they want by telling others: “after everything that I have done for you, how could you say no?” Guilt is the weapon utilized with the intent of hoping that the other person will feel guilty about their own decisions, and if the blackmailer is really successful, they may actually produce shame in the other person. The person then feels badly
and complies with that the blackmailer is trying to accomplish.
A blackmailer can be a friend, spouse, parent or co-worker. They are
expert manipulators. Yet, the emotional blackmailer’s repertoire is only effective if there is someone willing to oblige. When someone suspects that they are being emotionally blackmailed, it is crucial to have a boundary check. Ask yourself: “Are my boundaries being infringed on? Am I changing my boundaries to please the blackmailer?" If you
answer yes, then you know that you are a prime candidate for manipulation.Revisit the boundaries that you have for yourself, evaluate what has been infringed upon and reaffirm the importance of your boundaries. Once boundaries are intact, the blackmailer’s attack will no longer work.
Susan Forward’s book, Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt toManipulate You, discusses emotional blackmail in detail and provides various examples of emotional blackmail in relationships. If you feel like you are in a relationship with someone who uses F.O.G as a way to manipulate you,
seek out a therapist who has experience in this area and learn to establish healthy boundaries to protect yourself from the blackmailer’s intentional emotional manipulation.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinneyCounseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Rebuilding Trust: Believe Behaviors
“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you say”- Source Unknown
Once trust has been broken in a relationship, it is very difficult to restore. It takes time and a consistent show of certain behaviors to rebuild trust. It is a process that has no quick fix. Trust can be broken in relationships due to infidelity, addictions or due to other lies and deception. Whatever the reason, once trust has been broken, the relationship is in a state of crisis.
One aspect of rebuilding trust is to stop listening to the words spoken and watch for consistent behaviors over time. Listening and believing words spoken by a person who has been proven to be an unreliable source only creates additional anxiety and can be crazy making in itself. An addict often lies to protect the addiction, an unfaithful spouse lies to protect the secret relationship, and some people lie to avoid true intimacy in a relationship. Sometimes, there are so many lies told that it is impossible to sort out what is true and what is not.
Do not spend time engaged in head games. Attention should be paid to observable behaviors. If the unreliable person is actually in recovery, then the behaviors that back that up would be seeing them reading recovery materials, attending groups, participating in therapy and utilizing new coping skills. If the not so truthful person has engaged in infidelity, then the behaviors that may support an end to the illicit relationship could be complete transparency with phone and email accounts, the end to unexplained absences, and show of empathy and regret for the pain they have caused.
Broken trust produces pain, fear and anxiety. There is no quick fix to this issue. Often people will report that their intuition had been telling them all along what the truth is; however, often this was ignored in place of believing the words spoken by the deceiver. If finding out that a person has broken trust, believe behaviors, focus on your own well-being and allow time to provide all the answers that you need.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist