The Ten Obligations of the Empath


In order to manipulate you and control you, we rely on certain behaviours which cause you to act out of fear. Fear of injury, isolation, financial ruin, loss of your home or loss of your children. We also rely on your deeply embedded sense of obligation. Owing to your honesty and decency, you feel need to do certain things. Your sense of obligation is greater than normal and we exploit this in the following ways:

  1. You feel responsible for us

So much of what we do is of our own doing. In fact, next to nothing is caused by you when looked at through your worldview. From our perspective you are responsible for everything. It is always your fault and we repeatedly project and blame-shift in order to condition you to feel responsible for us. You already have a sense of responsibility towards us. You feel a sense of responsibly to nearly everybody because of the fact you are caring and compassionate. This increases when it comes to us because we are your intimate partner and you believe that it is the intimate partner who ranks amongst the highest who deserve such responsibility. This increases again when you realise that we have certain flaws and you feel a need to take on responsibility for them. Indeed, combine this natural state with the conditioning that we cause and you become someone who is over-responsible for us.

  1. You feel that you owe us

Once again this is a combination of the natural and the condition. You have been given such a wonderful time during the seduction period, given so much both material and emotional that you feel you do owe us. You are also a person who is polite and well-mannered and you feel a natural desire to return favours, thank people for what they do for you and a sense of paying the debt that has arisen. We also believe you owe us for everything we gave you during the seduction and accordingly you are obliged to repay us for the rest of the relationship and beyond. Combine these two elements and a powerful obligation of owing us is created which we are then able to exploit to our advantage.

  1. You feel sorry for us

That natural sympathy people possess is available in spades with someone as empathic as you. You never regard someone as weak or pathetic but rather feel sorry for them. You would not regard a homeless person as a stain on society but rather feel sorry that they find themselves in such a situation and you consider how they ended up where they are what might be done about it. You realise our behaviours are abhorrent but rather than always feel angry about it, you feel sorry for us that we behave this way. You feel sorry that we cannot explain ourselves, that we lash out and behave in such a destructive fashion. Your exuding sympathy not only fuels us but it creates an obligation on your part towards us.

  1. You feel guilty

Even if you know that a certain course of action is for the best, you are assailed by the guilt that you might be hurting someone, stopping them what they want to do or upsetting them in some way. Tough love is not a concept you want to embrace as the guilt at seeing someone else hurting, as a consequence of something that you have done, is too great. This sense of guilt forces you down different routes, often doing things which are not the best for you but nevertheless you feel obligated to do out of this considerable sense of guilt which looms large which someone empathic like you.

  1. You feel a need to fix us

You are a problem solver. You enjoyed the Sound of Music when you were younger and you always felt that if you had been given the chance you would have solved a problem like Maria. You regard it as your role to heal and to fix. You are of the unshakeable mind-set that everybody can be fixed. Everyone can be made better and when you experience the broken elements of our machinations and manipulations you do not shirk from them. Instead, you remain in situ and work out how you can resolve them. This obligation to make things better and to heal is a central part of who you are and is readily exploited by us since we know you are unlikely to go anywhere despite how bad things are.

  1. You feel it is your duty

You have a strong sense of duty. Duty to be an excellent parent, supportive friend, caring son or daughter, hard-working colleague and all round decent human being. Most of all you regard your duty to your intimate partner as one where no matter how difficult things might be you are not going to walk away. This duty is often compelled from the vows that you have taken and a strong religious undertone to your personality.

Duty is paramount and from that rises the obligation.

  1. You feel a need to abide by your standards

So often the world appears to have lost its moral compass and therefore it falls to a diminishing group of people to right the wrongs, stand up for the vulnerable and defend the weak. You often see that people are ruled by those twin gods of sex and money and this causes people to forget who they are and the standards they once adhered to. This is not for you. You do not do this to be lauded by others but do so because you cannot lie straight in your bed at night if you do not uphold these standards for yourself and in your daily dealings. This translates into treating people with patience, understanding, compassion and empathy, no matter how difficult it becomes. Some might suggest that you are making a rod for your own back.

  1. You feel a need to maintain appearances

This is not done for your own benefit. You are not like us creating an image to show the world. No, you do this to maintain appearances for the sake of others. It is keeping the family together for the sake of your children so they are not upset. It is appearing to get along with your difficult brother for the sake of your fragile elderly parents. It is taking one for the team in order to maintain an appearance so that you deal with the pain and aggravation so others do not. This need creates an obligation in you which we are content to exploit as we know it will keep you around and stop you from speaking out about what we do.

  1. You feel a need to never give up.

You are not a quitter. You do not give up at the first bump in the road or black cloud. You keep going, you are tenacious. You are indefatigable and you persevere. You plough forwards and feel that it is only right to do this because you know that the just reward will come at the end of it. Anything worth doing is worth doing properly. Anything worth having takes effort. We applaud this desire to stick at things.

  1. You feel a need to have done your best

When everything is added up and evaluated, at the end of the day, you want that satisfaction, just for yourself, to know that you did your best and you could have done no more. You always consider whether you could have done something a different way and more effectively. You are self-critical and behave like this in order to fulfil your chosen role as a good person. This obliges you to try and try again.

These empathic obligations result in your remaining with us longer, enduring more of our abusive behaviours and forgiving more of what we do than an ordinary person. We know these obligations exist and we exploit them.

25 thoughts on “The Ten Obligations of the Empath

  1. Samantha says:

    What a poignantly accurate list :(. Ugh.

  2. nikitalondon says:

    All … I did all …
    Good list very good list.

  3. Indy says:

    Could I ask for an explanation of how you differentiate codependency from how you define an empath. Again, as I have previously, I wish to say that many of the behaviors you describe above are seen as classically codependent in 12step world and are not necessarily healthy behaviors, such as number 5, one I have to continuously work on in myself. I have always thought the empath can be compassionate and strong without guilt to take on other people’s responsibilities or their emotions unnecessarily. I believe an empath can hold the emotion of another human being without being lost in it and without feeling responsible for it. It’s what therapists strive for or they risk burn out.

    What is your take on that HG ? Do we simply have different terminology (codep vs empath) and out talking about the same things or something different?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The differences are detailed in Chained, Indy, which show why the CD is prized beyond the empath. A CD is an empath but a different form of one. I think where you talk about the empath holding the emotion of another without being lost in it is a good description and one which leans more towards a super empath.

      1. Indy says:

        I see. So, a super empath would exhibit a healthier approach to feeling others’ emotions (creates boundaries), as opposed to a co-dependent (less boundaries and more enmeshment with emotions of others within, more like a martyr). Is that what you are saying?

        Just curious, as it is used differently depending on the circles one uses the terms empathy, empathetic and codependent in (12-step, professional, colloquial, HG theory :-). I know, I need to buy the book. 🙂

        1. HG Tudor says:

          That is correct Indy.

  4. God is AMAZING says:

    I have just finished your book -escape-. This has been so hard for me. I have been trying so hard to help him, to fix him, to show him true love. I knew I did these things, as I do with everyone!! But he has been the one man that has changed my life and my heart and all the things you said dead on in your book. I put him over my son!!! I was so sick over the things the eventually unfolded, I stopped eating and focused my everything on him.
    I finally learned, from your book, that I am exactly that. An empath! You, and him, in your crazy sick ways, have saved me. I found me!!! Thank you

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello GIA, thank you for getting in contact and sharing your experience, I can sense the emotion in your post. Now you understand what you are dealing with, what do you intend to do next?

      1. god is amazing says:

        I don’t know. He has moved 8 hours away. Which god saved me there. Yet we still talk. I have some sort of control over the situation and now more than before I “understand” more to be able to not try to make him understand. Although I still feel there is a part of me that can get in. That there is a slight chance for him, It’s a battle against myself. But the feelings and the gratitude for finding myself, I never walk to completely erase him.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I have never read anything that defines me so well!! This is exactly the way I am! My first and second marriage married a narracist!! Never knew until after 9 yrs. of the second marriage what I’m dealing with! I’m stuck and can’t leave but I’m learning who I am and working on me until the day I can leave! Thanks for the information!!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  6. Forgotten says:

    I’m not ashamed to be an empath.. just like a narcissist should not be ashamed of who he is. With a little exeption : I have no need to fix anyone. I have no rights to do it either.

  7. Lisa says:

    PS Lori. Mine, I dont believe is of the Lesser kind however. But traits of, are still traits of. Hope you get what I mean.

  8. Snow White says:

    I am guilty of all ten.
    Number 4 was felt from the beginning to the end and after. Not feeling guilty anymore is hard to do.
    Number 5 is something I wanted to do more than anything. My mind has accepted that I can’t but the guilt likes to creep back in. I believed with my whole heart that I could. It feels like I failed.

    How is that you always know more about me than I do? I am discussing this in therapy next week.
    Thanks for the topic.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Because I have made it my business to know to further my own ends, SW.

      1. Snow White says:

        You need to know all about us and now I need to know all about your kind.
        We fit together like magnets.

  9. Lisa says:

    Spot on! Right down to The Sound of Music part! Gullible HG? Are we truly gullible also? Thanks.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Indeed Lisa, it is was we look for, but you need not be so any longer, not with he information you gain here.

      1. Lisa says:

        Thank you HG. Its awful knowing one is so gullible. Yes I have learned much from your blogs, to the point Ive been able to flick a narc to the curb. I was attracted to him for sure, but thankfully I waited and let the game play out some, before jumping into anything. Still gullible somewhat, but more aware now for sure. 😉

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are seizing the power, Lisa.

  10. Lori says:

    This is me. I should have left after the second month. I wasted two and a half years trying to lead by example. Today I found out he is dating someone else. It still hurts but deep down I know I’m better off. I hope this new girl doesn’t get hurt to badly

    1. Lisa says:

      I wonder this too Lori. Although I feel pretty sure she will (correct me if Im wrong please HG). I was the 3rd wife of my ex. One fled interstate, the other overseas to escape him. Me? Im trying to win the battle of staying. If he gets a new sourse of fuel, I truly feel for her. Be thankful you are now out. I know I am.

    2. Debbie says:

      2 1/2 years for you and 6 years for me! 🙁

    3. Naomi harper says:

      I was in a relationship for 3 1/2 years and my head is a mess, not even two weeks after we broke up he’s with someone new. We have two beautiful children together and wants them full time

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