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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
20 thoughts on “The Ten Obligations of the Empath”
If I’m a big empath, why do I feel a huge amount of anger, resentment and bitterness towards my ex narcissist?. I am hateful towards him everyday! Does that not contradict my characteristics? I believe he has made me feel these emotions from him having no emotions himself ie no empathy or compassion. He does not care about how I feel and wants me out of his life as he has a new source.
I am of course responsible for my own emotions and should control my reactions, but when I’m face to face with him; I’m fearless but when I’m away, I end up falling apart!!
Hello Autumn, this is the consequence of what happens to some of your kind following your engagement with our kind. Such anger and resentment is typical and represents the dialling down of your empathic traits allowing the narcissistic ones more prominence (such as pride for instance which will be behind your resentment and bitterness).
I feel SO much better after reading your response to Autumn!
Do you have an email address? I would like to write you. I have questions I would like to write you privately.
Yes – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tenacity is my middle name and I did feel like I owed him, after all, his synthetic love was so amazing. However, I didn’t realize he was going to feast on my heart and eviscerate my soul. Narcissists are nothing but fraudulent pimps and thieves. All Soul’s Day is on November 2nd, I should probably make an effort to find my missing soul.
I love the way you described the destruction. I am vacationing in New York for a few days, and as I walk the busy streets, I don’t feel any part of the hustle and bustle of the city. I just feel a chasm deep down inside of myself.
I see glimpses of my old self…but she is far far away.
Thank you, H
I know exactly how you feel. It is similar to watching a movie with almost no sound and you are detached from yourself, just going through the motions-a ghost of your former self-and all you feel is overwhelming grief at the loss and betrayal of what you once had.
She is far far away and you have to reach out and pull her back in from the shadows so she can see the light.
Your sadness is so strong and you are struggling; I can feel it. As I make my way through the darkness, I will find you and reach out to you whenever I can.
You brought a tear….I am seeing little glimmers of her. Thanks so much for your words, they resonate with my emotional thinking.
You are welcome, H. Let all your feelings out, so you can pull her out of the shadows faster.
this was ‘our’ scene, that ‘we’ bonded over, it reached out to ‘us’ and seemed to symbolise what we were. it was an eerie time together, a twilight world he said, connected us (i never told him about that part of my childhood stories).
to reject someone means to deny a part of yourself who was sharing those feelings, living in those moments. but that’s what you have to do.
If I were in any doubt (and I was) as to whether or not I am an empath …..I am in no doubt now……my name is stamped all over this article from 1 to 10. The truth hurts…….I am sad…..part of me wants to be a narcissist, just on the lower end of the scale……..life would be so much easier then………..Diva
Not only are you an empath, you aren’t even remotely close to being a hybrid! It is a tough pill to swallow; I know the feeling. K
Hi K…….somehow I know that “you know the feeling”…….I have sensed it in your posts, that I always read……..although you were way ahead of me, about me, it would seem!!!!!!……….Diva
I have been here since the beginning of March so I better know what I am doing by now…thanks for reading. I am going to post more memories from my childhood so those should be interesting; I hope.K
Hi K……I will be looking out for and reading your posts for sure……Diva.
I have done quite a bit of reading on how empathic traits can create a cage, but never have I been so moved as this. This post has caused me quite a bit of pain, but clarity as well. You have gently shown me the construction of the cage from the one who used the materials at hand. For me to have given so much, to have loved so fully, to have tried so hard and affected no change, to have been used so completely, to have not been loved in return, but discarded; these things rip the wings off the empath. You have explained it so very well. Thank you for charging your words with less emotional salt on some of these lessons, HG. It makes it hurt less, somehow.
Mirabile Dictu, I still think I am a super empath (until I read other wise), however, my wishy-washy-waffle friend is a co-dependent and my ULN has a female cousin who is one, too.
Chained is mind-blowing! Especially the parts about the hybrid, the empath’s need to be loved and to love, as well as, the reasons we (the empath) endure abuse. I ticked off all 3 of those. And when you asked Tabitha where she might like to dine out and she didn’t want to choose, that drove me nuts! My boyfriend always did that, but I always chose a place right away. The best steak house in the city with the most expensive steak on the menu, blue rare! Awesome read!
I feel responsible since i’m the only one who knows abt his npd, and he won’t tell anyone else
I feel sorry (sad) for him that he cannot love, feel happy or sad, and has to always mirror pple
I feel guilty if i don’t help him. I try not to feel guilty. I may stop helping for a prd of a few wks, but my guilt overtakes me, and i start helping him again.
I feel if i discuss his npd w him, he can fix himself at least a little
I feel a need to abide by my standards. I must point out that his behaviors are wrong, but i must do so very carefully, so that i do not wound him.
I don’t want to give up on him else he’ll give up on himself.
I must do my best for him. Otherwise, he may fall into depression again. I don’t want that.
But, i will be cautious and guard my feelings. I will try not to get emotionally attached.