Pulling on heartstrings is nothing more than a nice way of saying manipulation. Emotional appeal is a logical fallacy, but worse it’s a betrayal of basic interpersonal trust. To use our feelings of compassion and concern against us is to use and mistreat us as human beings. If the statement or action was valid in the first place, then it wouldn’t need anyone’s feelings to be triggered to gain sympathy.
When we fall prey to manipulation we betray ourselves as we’ve been betrayed by the perpetrator. But worst of all even when we know that, the feelings that have been brought up still continue to cloud our judgment afterwards. Anyone who wants a desired outcome is more than capable of working toward it without resorting to guilt trips or similar tactics. If they wanted it so bad they’d find solutions and use those, not their “friends”.
And that’s a big part of manipulation – using the other person’s closeness as a tool against them. It’s bad enough to exert control in this way at all, rather than work with the other person honestly. But it’s worse that this behavior breeds the exact opposite tendencies as intended; emotional distance, distrust and resentment. Because that’s what all happens when one circles back to realizing they’ve been “had” by an emotional pirate out for some treasure that they pillage from those who have rightfully earned it.
Pirates are romanticized, as are emotional manipulators. Machiavelli wasn’t the only one to write it down, let alone shed any light on the monstrous practice; it’s been immortalized and set in stone long before all of us. Since people had feelings others have capitalized on that, manufacturing ways to use it for the user’s benefit.
Like drug pushers and pimps, corrupt politicians or more, we can’t keep shaking our fingers at people who know better. It’s up to us not to be fooled instead of crying in our beer any longer.
We don’t have to harden ourselves to the world though, and we can retain our emotional pliability as we move forward. We can reject controlling tactics without losing hope or our spirits. It takes compartmentalization and rationalization etc., but of course all that’s easier said than done. We need to maintain our internal tools and use them to make sure we evaluate our experiences with critical thinking. It’s alright for us to refrain from judgment long enough to take the temperature of a given situation.
We do have the time to decide what we do, and we do have the freedom to follow through.