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.

30 thoughts on “The Ten Obligations of the Empath

  1. I always thought my ADD was a blessing…I could easily distract my self
    from the shit he was throwing…….

    What is that shiny thing over there?

    Is attention a learned skill? If you don’t get good attention, you don’t learn to pay attention……..
    Your brain is in the field behind the barn, watchin little critters scamper about…instead of the lecture currently being given about forgetting homework/not meeting expectations……”Are you listening to me?!” …. (Don’t want this kind of attention) actually a defense device..,just seems bat shit crazy

  2. Tappan Zee,

    Funny, that you would bring up Attention Deficit. I had an actual diagnosis of ADHD, and had been on medication a few times during my childhood.
    . He kept pointing out my “problem” that it was getting really bad, I couldn’t keep attention on anything, I should get help.
    Within 2 weeks of medication, I was pointing out his contradictions, changes in rules, telling him HE’S not paying attention,etc. I made his life hell for about 9 months with that, till he hid my pills,(federal scripts they won’t replace) then about a week before I could get it filled again, he said the meds were making me psychotic, and he’d kill the dr before he’d let me be “poisoned” again.
    What a jerk.
    But I did used to listen to a philosophy show, where the commentator was fairly sure that ADD is caused by abuse. I’d say mine was at least exacerbated by it. I feel no need for medication, now.

    1. Tappan Zee says:

      Perse—play on words. not the attention deficit that i meant. we are (were) starved for attention. non narcs don’t hand feed us. they’re living life. narcs though? bait us. to your point. i get the attention deficit disorder. i think it is very orderly. and yes. the lot of us. we are all bat shit crazy bitches:)

  3. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    I feel nothing.

    I am only responsible for myself.

    I don’t owe anyone anything.

    Guilt? For what? Oh right, nothing. So no, I can honestly say I’ve never felt any guilt.

    Duties and obligations – that’s complicated. I feel obligated until royally fucked over. I feel obligated up until a certain point. If there is no reciprocity fuck it – I’m out and won’t be a chump.

    I will always abide by my standards.

    Fuck appearances. I don’t give a flying fuck about that.

    I am tenacious. I don’t give up; however I have learned to walk away from people that bring me down or don’t contribute anything to an interaction/friendship/relationship.

    I do feel as though I need to have done my best most of the time; however now I feel as though I needed to have put as much effort in as the other person because I’m not going to keep trying and drag out a one way relationship.

    “One way love is just a fantasy.”

    1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

      1. Kimi says:

        Dr HQ,

        I love Madonna’s music and her F you attitude! Hmmmm… reminds me of someone! 😉

        I used to think she was a Narcissist until she had and adopted children. Now I’m not so sure? Part of the facade or just traits?

  4. Tappan Zee says:

    How do no non narcs see us?

    1. HG Tudor says:


      1. Tappan Zee says:

        So in a way our attention deficit is our undoing. We don’t get it from “them.” Because they are too busy living life. Your kind douse us, however and we respond in kind. Another example where the battle is won before it is fought. We are wired to “need” you. Until or unless we rewire.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          In essence, yes.

      2. SuperXena says:

        …It is understandable from the narcissist ‘s perspective that he/she sees the empaths as fleetingly ( as perhaps a defensive mechanisms for survival) but that does not make the empath fleeting since she/he is definitely not…..In reality the empath is indelible ….
        And I think the narcissist knows that as well…

  5. Not the one says:

    I just feel like a huge victim to his shitty abuse. There’s no saving that bastard. Maybe more of an empath gone sour. But spending two years wanting to take care of him, save him, put everything into got a bit draining

  6. JW says:

    This is so true.

  7. loveyourselfnowgirl says:

    HG can I have your permission to share this on a forum for people healing narcissistic abuse issues? It’s bang on, almost scary in how accurate it is. More people need to read this, and other content on your blog.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You may so long as it is credited to me. Thank you for the courtesy of asking beforehand.

      1. loveyourselfnowgirl says:

        Thank you. I appreciate it. 🙂

  8. Overthinker says:

    You left out you love us some of us feel we still love the narcissist even without his mask. Certainly the argument could be made its not real love or its unhealthy or we still love the facade but in my case I feel like I’m still in love with him demons and all. It maybe completely sick on my part but that’s how I feel. Could be just an addiction too.

  9. 12345 says:

    I can proudly say I have met every obligation 🙄🙄🙄

    1. 12345,
      “I can proudly say I have met every obligation ”
      Well, I did, too. And I was proud, that I did the right thing.

      Sometimes, now, I think how sad I wasted my traits on someone who actually despised them, but needed me to have them, to be able to hurt others.

      Would like to get to the point where I don’t think what a waste!

  10. SpanishPrincess says:

    Absolutely true; my God. Exactly what happened to me. Saw my Narc sleeping in his car this morning, and after all he has done, I still felt bad. Oh well, I carried on with my life.

  11. SorrynotSorry says:

    Wow, this is well written and it explained me well as I was in a relationship with my X. But one thing to discuss is post Narc experience. I don’t know if other empaths felt this but I have. I don’t feel as emphatic anymore, nor care about his feelings or anyone that resembles his behavior, I don’t feel sorry but give it the whole take it or leave it attitude. I feel I am turning into a Narcissist but I am not a complete empty vessel. LOL It is hard to explain.

    1. Catherine says:

      SorrynotSorry, I do understand. Right now I just feel empty, sometimes angry. I don’t have the empathy I used to have towards others at all, but I’m sure that for the most part it’s about all our reserves being emptied after what we’ve been through. And the narcs, well they don’t deserve any empathy anyway.

      1. SorrynotSorry says:

        Definitely angry would be a better word. I have been angry for awhile but I shifted my anger into knowledge. I used his behavior and methods against him. I didn’t even know I was learning them until afterwards. I ended up with total control, he has none against me. He is using his techniques on his new supply but when he starts with me, I shut it down and he has no choice but to accept it. I make him the bad guy and portray myself the victim. I am using the role he made me feel but as a character in getting what I need/want. At first, I felt so wrong doing this but my emotions/mindset shifted to this is exactly what he deserves, even if in the end he feels nothing anyway. But I feel victorious.

      2. Catherine says:

        Good on you! You’re seizing control, playing his game, winning at last. Sounds like what I should’ve done too!

    2. Tappan Zee says:

      SorryNotSorry— i think, wonder and worry about that too. yet one cannot “turn narc” on a dime. for me saying no, setting boundaries and doing my life 180° different feels weird. and yes, narcy because i judge my actions as they appear which are counter intuitive to how i have behaved. i still care. i don’t have to bleed out though to show it. and i may not bleed at all. but i am empath to the core. less self destructively so. and not flinging myself in front of trains and whatnot.

  12. DebbieWolf says:

    Ode to Empaths.
    I’ve said it before …the way you write about empaths is very understanding… complimentary .. pointing out all the wonderful traits of those who are fair, kind, loving and more.
    These kind of articles I find encouragement in, when confidence has been knocked it’s like somebody telling us not to underestimate ourselves and look at all the brightness about us.

    All these different empath articles I’ve said a million times before are like Odes and I really appreciate them.
    All the time spent defending things I needn’t have been defending.. screaming my lungs out.. feeling wretched.. it totally crushes those feelings.
    And in the cold dark night of coming to terms with heartbreak.. or at least trying to… these articles reminding us how many lovely qualities we possess it is like curling up by a warm fire and remembering who we are.

    Thanks HG for bringing us around your campfire..letting us know that with your help..we can move forward.. that we can be ok in the end. It’s ironic isn’t it that you can bring so much hope and mental sanctuary.

    ps..*”you always felt that if you had been given the chance you would have solved a problem like Maria*”…Hahaha. 👍😁

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome DW.

    2. loveyourselfnowgirl says:

      Debbie Wolf
      “All the time spent defending things I needn’t have been defending.. screaming my lungs out.. feeling wretched.. it totally crushes those feelings.”

      I so needed to read this. I have been berating myself for getting angry at him for not understanding basic human decency and behaviour.

      Thanks for your words. They helped me gain a bit of insight.

      1. DebbieWolf says:

        Thanks for your kind comment LYNG🌹..yes..always horrible thinking of the reactions that seem thrust upon us.
        It’s difficult when adverse circumstances are created by others and yet it all becomes about our reactions to them. Ending up in some guilt ridden state and feeling terrible for standing up to abuse..for not standing up to it…
        For screaming out…for not screaming out.
        The endless loop to nothing.
        Ever decreasing in ourselves unwiitingly or knowingly …

        As Nelson Mandela said:
        “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you”.


Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous article

Sitting Target

Next article

Something That Rings True