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.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist