The Other Side of Love: Tactics of Emotional Manipulation in Romantic Relationships

Danina Salihagić, Đenita Tuce


Emotional manipulation in romantic relationships is a subtle form of controlling a partner through emotional pressure, inducing feelings of guilt, blackmail, ignoring, passive-aggressive behaviors, and other manipulative tactics. However, it is often invisible, elusive, and difficult to prove, which additionally makes this form of abuse highly dangerous. Emotional manipulation can have serious consequences on an individual's mental health, including increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also lead to reduced self-confidence, feelings of helplessness, and a loss of control over one's own life. To raise awareness about the harmful effects of emotional manipulation, both for the quality of the romantic relationship, and for the mental health of the individual, this paper presents scientifically-based information on this construct, and describes some of the most common tactics of emotional manipulation, which are used in romantic relationships. Through scientific and professional discussions and education, society can become better informed about emotional manipulation, and create an environment in which victims feel safe to express their issues and seek help.


romantic relationships; emotional manipulation; mature and immature love

Full Text:



Beckmeyer, Jonathon J., Shannon Cromwell (2019), ˝Romantic relationship status and emerging adult well-being: Accounting for romantic relationship interest˝, Emerging Adulthood, 7(4), 304-308.

Berk, Laura A. (2008), Psihologija cjeloživotnog razvoja, Naklada Slap, Jastrebarsko

Berscheid, Ellen, Harry T. Reis (1998), ˝Attraction and close relationships˝, In: D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed.), McGraw-Hill, New York, 193-281.

Birch, Adelyn (2015), 30 Covert emotional manipulation tactics: How manipulators take control in personal relationship, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, Scotts Valley, California

Borović, Luka, Jelena Marković (2021), ˝Unutrašnji radni modeli afektivne vezanosti kao prediktori mračne trijade˝, Godišnjak za psihologiju, 18, 41-58.

Braiker, Harriet B. (2004), Who’s pulling your strings?: How to break the cycle of manipulation and regain control of your, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY

Brewer, Gayle, Charlotte Bennett, Lauren Davidson, Alisha Ireen, Amy-Jo Phipps, David Stewart-Wilkes, Bernadette Wilson (2018), ˝Dark triad traits and romantic relationship attachment, accommodation, and control˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 120, 202-208.

Buss, David M. (1987), ˝Selection, evocation, and manipulation˝, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(6), 1214–1221.

Buss, David M. (1992), ˝Manipulation in close relationships: Five personality factors in interactional context˝, Journal of Personality, 60 (2), 477-499.

Campbell, W. Keith, Craig A. Foster, Eli J. Finkel (2002), ˝Does self-love lead to love for others? A story of narcissistic game playing˝, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 340-354.

Campbell, W. Keith, Craig A. Foster (2002), ˝Narcissism and commitment in romantic relationships: An investment model analysis˝, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(4), 484–495.

Engel, Beverly (2002), The emotionally abusive relationship: How to stop being abused and how to stop abusing, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey

Erikson, Erik H. (1980), Identity and the life cycle, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY

Firestone, Robert W., Joyce Catlett (1999), Fear of intimacy, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC

Fromm, Erich (1965), Umijeće ljubavi, Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb

Furnham, Adnri, Steven C. Richards, Delroy L. Paulhus (2013), ˝The Dark Triad of personality: A 10 year review˝, Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(3), 199–216.

Goleman, Daniel (2007), Socijalna inteligencija: nova nauka o ljudskim odnosima, Geopolitika, Beograd

Gómez-López, Mercedes, Carmen Viejo, Rosario Ortega-Ruiz (2019), ˝Well-being and romantic relationships: A systematic review in adolescence and emerging adulthood˝, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(13), 2415–2446.

Grieve, Rachel, Doug Mahar (2010), ˝The emotional manipulation–psychopathy nexus: Relationships with emotional intelligence, alexithymia and ethical position˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 48(8), 945–950.

Grieve, Rachel, Laura Panebianco (2013), ˝Assessing the role of aggression, empathy, and selfserving cognitive distortions in trait emotional manipulation˝, Australian Journal of Psychology, 65, 79–88.

Gurtman, Michael B. (1992), ˝Trust, distrust, and interpersonal problems: A circumplex analysis˝, Journal of personality and social psychology, 62(6), 989-1002.

Hyde, Jane, Rachel Grieve (2014), ˝Able and willing: Refining the measurement of emotional manipulation˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 131–134

Johnson, Michael P. (2006), ˝Violence and abuse in personal relationships: Conflict, terror, and resistance in intimate partnerships˝, In: A. L. Vangelisti & D. Perlman (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of personal relationships, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 557-578.

Jones, Daniel Nelson, Aurelio Jose Figueredo (2013), ˝The core of darkness: Uncovering the heart of the Dark Triad˝, European Journal of Personality, 27(6), 521–531.

Knapp. Mark L. (2006), ˝Lying and deception in close relationships˝, In: A. L. Vangelisti & D. Perlman (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of personal relationships, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 517-532.

Knee, C. Raymond, Benjamin W. Hadden, Zachary Baker (2016), ˝Optimal relationships as mutual fulfillment of self-determination theory’s basic psychological needs˝, In: C. Knee & H. Reis (Eds.), Positive Approaches to Optimal Relationship Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 30-55.

McHoskey, John W. (2001), ˝Machiavellianism and sexuality: On the moderating role of biological sex˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 31(5), 779–789.

Mićanović-Cvejić, Živka, Jelena Šakotić-Kurbalija, Dragan Kurbalija (2009), ˝Ambivalentna afektivna vezanost u bračnim odnosima˝, Psihijatrija danas, 41(1-2), 43-53.

Mikulincer, Mario, Gail S. Goodman (2006), Dynamics of romantic love: Attachment, caregiving, and sex, The Guilford Press, New York, NY

Myers, David G. (1999), ˝Close relationships and quality of life˝, In: D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology, Russell Sage Foundation, New York, NY, 374-391.

Opat Jozić, Nikolina, Jelena Ombla (2018), ˝Odnos emocionalne intligencije i privrženosti romantičnom partneru s manipulativnim ponašanjem u ljubavnom odnosu˝, Ljetopis socijalnog rada, 25(2), 223-248.

Paulhus, Delroy L., Kevin M. Williams (2002), ˝The Dark Triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy˝, Journal of Research in Personality, 36(6), 556–563.

Pernar, Mirjana (2010), ˝Ljubav i intimnost˝, Medicina, 46(3), 234-241.

Roberson, Patricia N. E., Jerika C. Norona, Katherine A. Lenger, Spencer B. Olmstead (2018), ˝How do relationship stability and quality affect wellbeing?: Romantic relationship trajectories, depressive symptoms, and life satisfaction across 30 years˝, Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27, 2171-2184.

Ryckman, Richard M. (2008), Theories of personality, Thomson Higher Education, Belmont, CA

Schaie, K. Warner, Sherry L. Willis (2001), Psihologija odrasle dobi i starenja, Naklada Slap, Jastrebarsko

Schrodt, Paul, Paul L. Witt, Jenna R. Shimkowski (2014), ˝A meta-analytical review of the demand/withdraw pattern of interaction and its associations with individual, relational, and communicative outcomes˝, Communication Monographs, 81(1), 28-58.

Sommer, Kristin L., Kipling D. Williams, Natalie J. Ciarocco, Roy F. Baumeister (2001), ˝When silence speaks louder than words: Explorations into the intrapsychic and interpersonal consequences of social ostracism˝, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 23(4), 225–243.

Stark, Cynthia A. (2019), ˝Gaslighting, misogyny, and psychological oppression˝, The Monist, 102(2), 221–235.

Stefanović Stanojević, Tatjana (2011), Afektivna vezanost – razvoj, modalitet i procena, Filozofski fakultet u Nišu, Niš

Stern, Robin (2007), The gaslight effect: How to spot and survive the hidden manipulation others use to control your life, Harmony, New York

Sweet, Pauge L. (2019), ˝The sociology of gaslighting˝, American Sociological Review, 84(5), 851-875.

Vangelisti, Anira L., Gary Beck (2007), ˝Intimacy and fear of intimacy˝, In: L. L’Abate (ed.), Low-cost approaches to promote physical and mental health: Theory, research, and practice, Springer, New York, NY, 395-414.

Vlajković, Jelena (2005), Životne krize – prevencija i prevazilaženje, Žarko Albulj, Beograd

Waddell, Chloe, George van Doorn, Evita March, Rachel Grieve (2020), ˝Dominance or deceit: The role of the Dark Triad, and hegemonic masculinity in emotional manipulation˝, Personality and Individual Differences, 166, 110-160.

Williams, Kipling D. (2007), ˝Ostracism˝, Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 425-452.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN: 2490-3604 (print) ● ISSN: 2490-3647 (online)

Društvene i humanističke studije - DHS is under the Creative Commons licence.