When Your Partner Weaponizes Fragility To Control You

They’re not vulnerable, they just need you to think they are

Jae L
7 min readFeb 19, 2022


Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard on Unsplash

You’ve heard of weaponized incompetence, right? It’s where a person feigns a lack of ability to complete a task in order to avoid responsibility for it. It explains why so many men are so bad at ironing and why it’s always the junior female staff members who organise the birthday lunches.

Well what about where a person is consistently unable to do the work of being in a relationship because they claim they are not emotionally up to it?

I was in a relationship with such a person. Being in the grip of this phenomenon, I struggled to pin it down. However, with the clarity that comes with a couple of years hindsight, I now have a term for it: weaponized fragility.

This person had a way of always being the victim and making me the bad person. Not only did they weaponize fragility to avoid the emotional responsibility of being in a relationship — they used it to control and manipulate me. They did such a good job on me that it didn’t hit me until well after the relationship was over that I was the wronged party.

Here’s how weaponized fragility can play out in a relationship.

They don’t let your attention waiver from them and their needs

After insisting on attending my friend’s wedding, my partner complained that I had left them out of conversations, despite me making every effort to include them. My friend had not been too busy being a bride to notice what was going on and later commented on my babysitting efforts. It was so apt — I had barely left their side unless it was to get them a drink or go to the bathroom, making damn sure that I wasn’t waylaid on my return.

They weren’t neglected. They just weren’t the centre of attention for a while. But I had compromised my own enjoyment because I was so focused on their needs.

They withdraw their attention from you as a means of control

Plenty of times they disappeared behind closed doors because they needed space. Being part of a relationship was all a bit too much for them and they needed to regularly take leave from it. I had to accommodate their need for alone…



Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself. diverge999@gmail.com