The difference between being emotional and emotionally manipulative – AskMen

3 key differences between being emotional and being emotionally manipulative

Emotions are part of the human experience. We all experience them, although some people are more comfortable feeling, showing and expressing them than others.

But some people use emotions to get their way.

So where do you draw the line between healthy expression of emotions and emotional manipulation?

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“Simply being an emotional person in a relationship does not necessarily constitute manipulation. It is important to remember, however, that everyone has different needs and limits when it comes to emotions,” according to Heather WilsonLCSW, LCADC, CCTP.

If you’re uncomfortable with the way emotions are handled in your relationship, here are three key differences between being emotional and emotionally manipulative to help you figure out if a healthier dynamic is in order or if you just need to get in line – you with the different ways in which you and your partner deal with emotionally charged moments.

Differences between being emotional and emotionally manipulative

Emotional manipulation is calculated

“Throughout my experience as a divorce attorney, I have been able to observe the emotional responses versus emotional manipulation that exist in relationships, especially when they have deteriorated beyond the point of no return,” says Nicole Sodoma, attorney at divorces and author of Please don’t say you’re sorry.

“Emotional manipulation is when you try to inflict or provoke emotions on your partner because you think it will strengthen your position or weaken their position. For example, we often see guilt and shame being used in a divorce to weaken the resolve of the other side.”

On the other hand, being emotional is expressing feelings spontaneously – there is no agenda. “Emotional manipulation is intended to control the other, while simply being emotional is when the person expresses genuine feelings,” adds Wilson.

Emotional manipulation is harmful

Although intense emotions can sometimes lead to uncomfortable moments, emotional manipulation is destructive. If your sense of safety and self is attacked during emotional conversations or you feel suffocated or controlled, you may be experiencing the latter.

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Emotional manipulation is harmful and can take many forms. According to Wilson, common examples include guilt, criticizing or belittling a partner, refusing to show affection or support unless certain conditions are met, and using threats of abandonment or other consequences to control another person’s behavior.

“Also, emotional manipulation often makes one person feel like they have no choice and must comply with the other person’s wishes. This type of manipulation is unhealthy for both people in the relationship,” she says.

Emotional manipulation is about weaponizing emotions

Sodoma says there is a basic difference between being emotional and emotionally manipulative, and it lies in how you manage your emotional experience and the emotional experience of others.

“The main difference between being emotional and emotional manipulation is that emotions are something that everyone experiences, even if we experience them differently,” explains Sodoma. “Emotions are a part of life and we often have little control over how we feel, although we do have control over how we react.”

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“Emotional manipulation is using what you know to trigger, inflict, or provoke a response or behavior that will strengthen your position or weaken the other person’s,” he adds.

How to avoid emotional manipulation in relationships

Some people may unconsciously use manipulation without realizing they are doing it. It is important not to allow emotional manipulation. Set boundaries. Call it out and bring the discussion back to what really matters: open, safe, and constructive communication.

“There are beautiful books like What happened to you i Atlas of the Heart that they teach us how to use words and why we can feel and react the way we do,” Sodoma says.

Support your emotions, but do so without ultimatums, shaming, belittling, or any other goal other than understanding. Pause before reacting impulsively to emotionally charged situations.

“Being able to express one’s feelings openly can be healthy and beneficial for both parties in the relationship,” says Wilson. “Examples of expressing yourself emotionally include having honest conversations about your thoughts and feelings, making sure your partner listens to you, and taking time to recognize and process your emotions before responding to any given situation.”

Remember that it’s okay to have emotional differences. Recognize that your experiences may be different. Recognize that talking about feelings can be challenging. And continue to seek clarity and compassion over control.

“Emotions vary from person to person, and relationships can see a wide variety of emotions,” Sodoma says. “Expressing emotions with your partner can be difficult for many, but it’s important to have open communication, talk about things upfront and be as clear as possible.”

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