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.

46 thoughts on “The Ten Obligations of the Empath

  1. Liza says:

    if i’m totally honest about what is really going on my minde when i feel obligated or act in a manner that is perceived as dutifull, it is actually some sort of overestimating my capacities and underestimating others.
    i always think that if it is me i can handle it, but others can’t, so i have to take care of it.
    and it is the same thing with guilt, i always feel guilty, because i always think that there is something that i could have done, wich can be seen as me assuming that i have power over evry situation. both those are objectively false, it is just an other forme of grandiosity.

  2. Notme! says:

    Oh number 10 is my downfall!!!!
    I have never been able to shake the conviction that as long as I have done my best, I can look myself in the mirror and be ok with what has happened.
    ‘Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Still, it will have to do’.
    My lifes bloody motto. If I could get shot of this I’d be laughing!

    1. lisk says:

      Maybe change your motto to:

      “My best is too good for so many of these people that I have been trying to please.”

      1. Notme! says:

        I rather like that thanks Lisk. I might write it out as a reminder

        1. lisk says:

          My pleasure, Notme!. (I believe I need to write it out for myself as well!)

  3. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

    I think the fact that I need constant reinforcement and some kind of reward makes holding onto these relationships easier to discard. The biggest problem I used to have was the attachment, bonding, and boredom. Now, its more the boredom.

    1. Mercy says:

      Hi Dr Q, it’s good to see you back and commenting. I caught a few of your other comments on another thread but wasn’t able to find them again. The last time we talked you were talking about an open relationship with a narcissist. I was going to ask how that turned out but I think I can guess. Sucks doesn’t it? They can’t even play by the rules when the rules are meant to be broken. Anyway glad you’re here again.

      1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

        Hey mercy!

        I hope all is well. Update me on your current situation 🙃. The last time we spoke I was talking about an open cards on the table sorta situation with a psychopath (not a narc). I did that from about him… late nov 2018-early April 2019. Yeah, that was a huge crash and burn lmao. I broke up with him twice. He kept trying to contact me. He was married and about to divorce the wife right when I cut the chord. Long story short (unless you wanna know the whole story which again is as crazy as my others lol) the loser was a complete parasite that had to go. He didn’t have a single redeeming quality and the sex sucked royally. Of course…. he is a psychologist as well. He’s blocked like the narc, socio, borderline psychologist who fucks his clients ex i left in August 2018. They are both off torturing some other poor woman. Both are predators. Both are blocked. Both will get what they deserve in time. Tick tock…

        Current situation…. I almost fell into a situation because of boredom and because of familiarity with a covert narc but I snapped myself out of it. He’s a doc too. Shame really… I had high hopes for him and almost made him my boyfriend. I’m pretty sure he is confused right now. Not my problem. He is still hitting me up. I’m keeping him around at the moment for other reasons. There is a method to my madness lmao.

        Tonight I just got asked out by this married sociopathic lawyer who is cute but I know there’s no point in engaging and I’m gonna have to cancel on him tomorrow. I mean I could go for entertainment purposes and kill the boredom but I honestly don’t care enough and I don’t feel like getting myself into another situation.

        That adhd sensation seeking shit is absolutely real. I’m trying to stay out of trouble but I find that itch sometimes gets the best of me.

        I always do so well and then that itch… that boredom kicks in and I just need to like ahhhh lmao 😂 ….

        1. Mercy says:

          Dr Q, you’re making me lose faith in the mental health community haha. Are they all narc, socio? Last time we talked I was coming out of an “open cards on the table” relationship and you were going in. It was a situation I thought I could handle as long as I had full knowledge of what he was doing with his other fuel sources. Obviously it didn’t work because giving me full knowledge took away his control. It’s a long story but you know how they work so you can imagine how badly it went.

          As far as your boredom, you could try knitting?? Bowling? Haha I don’t know. I have that boredom problem too but I stay involved with projects to distract me. I’m not wasting any more of my life on another narcissist.

      2. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

        And yes…..I’m back 🤪🙃😜

      3. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

  4. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

    As I’ve matured, I have come to find its easier to cut people off. Once I make that decision for REAL REAL…I commit. I pretend as if they died or as if they never existed because after all…they never really did.

  5. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

    I no longer feel obligated to do anything for them anymore. I mean, I will get an attack of empathy and feel for them which will prevent me from lashing out. My empathy towards them will often lead to me to handle the situation more thoughtfully and not do anything cruel…

    ….but OBLIGATED…nahhhhh…not so much anymore lol…

    ESPECIALLY…when they disrespect me.

  6. DoForLuv says:

    I must say I noticed a few big changes . It seems
    I’am really a bad target finally . I don’t even pass the 3th day in “love bombing fase” . Your blog books and information did have a huge impact surely enlightend me from “ the dark “ . Thank you Much ! . Im Still working on my consulation with you . When I’m ready I will do .

  7. FYC says:

    I am living proof of all of these empathetic obligations. Thanks to Zero Impact I am no longer as easily manipulated, but the feeling of these obligations is still within me and probably always will be. These driving forces are just another reason why GOSO is so important. A non N does not intentionally exploit these.

    1. Mercy says:

      I agree FYC. These obligations we have within us are not necessarily bad if we can recognize when they are being taken advantage of.

      1. Kristin says:

        Well said Mercy. We are hard wired a certain way and it is makes us who we are.

        1. santaann1964 says:

          Is it fortunately or unfortunately? I just don’t know what normal is anymore….. Is there a normal. I consider myself a misfit 😇

          1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PsyD. says:

            Fuck normal. The weird people are always the best. Misfits are awesome..they have a lot of character.

          2. Mercy says:

            San1964, misfit is the new normal!

        2. Mercy says:

          I agree Kristin and as long as we apply logical thinking we can protect ourselves from those that take advantage.

      2. FYC says:

        Thank you, Mercy, I agree. But I am embarrassed to think how often and for how long these were traits were exploited by so many. HG is the first person to open my eyes to what was really taking place, and has provided the means for a functional protective shield too. I would have made far better choices if I had known decades sooner, like maybe at age 10. I am just so grateful I know now and can actively choose wisely.

        How is your legal situation developing? I think numbers 1,3,4,6,7 might have been exploited in that case. You did the right thing in principal, but now have to live out the results. I really hope you take good care of yourself and get HG’s help if you need it for the aftermath.

        1. Mercy says:

          FYC, I understand what you are saying about the embarrassment but I think HG would say this is emotional thinking and doesn’t benefit you in any way (can you tell I’ve been listening to zero impact 🙃?). I know you know that, I’m just offering a friendly reminder. Think of it this way. The kindness that a narcissist exploits, therefore becoming obligations, is no different than the kindness you offer here and is very much appreciated. BUT, now you can identify the difference. So now you can let go of the embarrassment and focus on the lives you’ve impacted with your knowledge and kindness. 

          Thank you for asking about my legal situation. It is still pending but thanks to GOSO I’ve been able to put it into perspective. This is not my problem and I didn’t cause any of this to happen. I did what my conscience allowed me to do. I have one job and that is what the authorities require of me. I am not going to go out of my way to harm him but I’m not going to go out of my way to protect him either. I see this now, whereas when I was in the middle of it, I felt like it was my problem. I feel really good letting these burdens go. I have two legal situations happening simultaneously (the other is with my daughter’s ex that I explained on Showing Restraint). I have never had legal issues in my life. The crazy part is, emotionally I feel ok. ET won’t help me so I’m just going to take care of business with logical thinking. I couldn’t have said that 6 months ago. When the time comes and the first problem starts moving forward, HG is the first person I will consult with. I have no doubts I will need his clear logic to get me through.

          1. FYC says:

            Thank you, Mercy, I appreciate the useful reminder, and you’re right. What I meant by my comment is that since my N is a parent, I had no idea what was actually happening when I was growing up. I had no other frame of reference. Knowing what I know now, when I look back, I can see the role I played and shake my head at the thought. The past does not have a hold on me now, but I deeply wish I had had this knowledge many years ago. It makes all the difference.

            Sounds like you have a very clear and healthy perspective on your legal matters and I am happy you feel free of any N effects. Your logical thinking will come in handy in your legal matters. You are wise to call on HG. Please do keep us updated. I look forward to your future zero impact (and my own)!

  8. Kristin says:

    This post has single handedly addressed the characteristics of my personality that cause my hesitation to escape. Because of your insight it all makes sense now. Thank you!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are most welcome.

    2. FYC says:

      Hello Kristin, Have you decided to escape? I hope so for your sake. You are definitely in the right place here.

      1. Kristin says:

        I agree FYC, this blog is amazing as are HG’s books. Escape is my ultimate goal but I have only just started to make sense of 28 years of abuse. I am scared, overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. The good news is that I am consulting with HG so I feel confident that his guidance will help me make sense of it all and get me where I need to be. Thank you fo ryour support 🙂

        1. Notme! says:

          Good for you Kristin. You’ll get strong and get free. Best wishes x

          1. Kristin says:

            Thank you Notme, truly. 🙂

        2. alexissmith2016 says:

          28 years Kristin, that is a considerable length of time. How did you cope for so long? I’m pleased you’re here and pleased you’re getting the support you need. Crossing the other side is scary but you will reach the other side and it may be tough at first but it is well worth the reward which awaits you and you truly deserve it. I’d like to put my hand through this reply and pull you through to the other side. big hugs lady, you’ve totally got this x

          1. Kristin says:

            Alexis, thank you for your kind words, they brought tears to my eyes. My faith in God has sustained me and I have stayed this long for my children and out of fear. I have literally asked myself since the first month of marriage, why is he so abusive and now that I know what he is and what I am dealing with, there is no going back. Your encouragement means a lot. 🙂

          2. alexissmith2016 says:

            Awwww Kristin, I really didn’t want to bring tears to your eyes. But I can remember (although I couldn’t sustain that length of time, I wasn’t strong enough) being on where you are now and other people encouraging me. It felt so good to have support yet impossible to believe things could get better. They all assured me that it would and it did x you’re in the right place. Knowledge is everything and I’m pleased it’s starting to make sense for you

          3. Kristin says:

            You took the words out of my mouth, because it does seem impossible that things will get better without destroying myself in the process. Knowing that you and many others have been where I am is such a relief. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can only pray that I will be able to provide the same support that I have received when this whole nightmare is over.

          4. alexissmith2016 says:

            You will Kristen, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever. But for now just concentrate on you and getting through this xx

        3. FoolMe1Time says:

          You have come to the right place. HG is amazing, he will help you from the beginning of the tunnel to the end, where you will finally see that glimmer of light and know that peace and happiness are just a few steps ahead. I’m very glad you are here dear. Read all that you can possibly read of HGs work, his consults and assistance packages are the best there is! Ask questions, any question, it doesn’t matter what it is, someone in this amazing place will have the answer for you. You can do this Kristin, remember one step at a time. Good luck to you sweetie.

          1. Kristin says:

            Thank you Foolme1time. I am encouraged by your words because right now I am completely overwhelmed. You said to ask questions and that is exactly what I needed to hear. As you all know, it is very lonely being on the receiving end of a narcissist. Leaving my marriage goes against everything that I am but I have been destroyed for so long that I am at a breaking point. I know that I am one of many and the support of the angels on this blog will keep me afloat. I have read 3 of HG’s books and have my first consult next week. Blessing to you and everyone on this blog.

          2. FoolMe1Time says:

            We all know how overwhelmed you are, please believe me when I tell you it will get better. I would never put all of my eggs into one basket, however since HG is that basket I would put all that I have in him. Consulting with HG is the best thing you could have done Kristin, the man is a genius and there is not a single person out there that can even come close to the knowledge that he has. Feel free to ask any question you would like dear, you will be surprised how many will offer you there help from this amazing place. The blog has become my sanctuary over the years and I truly hope it will also be the same for you. Bless you sweetie. 😘

          3. Kristin says:

            You are an angel, one of many. I totally agree that HG is the best and I have no problem putting all my eggs in the basket that is HG! He has set the precedent and there is no comparison. I am still amazed at what he can provide and your/everyone’s kind words have given me hope, thank you!

          4. FoolMe1Time says:

            You are very welcome Kristin. I know you will find the healing, peace, and the life you should be leading now that you are here.

        4. FYC says:

          I am so happy for you that you have found the best, and only truly useful, resource. Be extra good to yourself and take the time you need to process your feelings. Twenty eight years of abuse is bound to create a trauma bond and much false doubt. Thankfully, you have survived and before you know it you will thrive. You have all of our support and we will all look forward to the day when you are free and strong. Fear not, HG will get you there. I have zero doubt.

          1. Kristin says:

            I am amazed at the amount of support everyone has provided. I know that I am in the right place and it is such a blessing. I have an uphill battle but as you said, HG will get me there and many others too. One day at a time and as it stands now, one hour at time. Thank you so very much!

          2. FYC says:

            No thanks necessary. We are all very happy to be here for you; to listen and care and offer any knowledge we have gained here as well. Please do read Crossing the Emotional Sea parts 1-3 if you have not already.

          3. Kristin says:

            That was the perfect recommendation and exactly what I needed to read, thank you again X

          4. FYC says:

            Hi Kristin, I am so happy to hear that and you are very welcome. I hope you have good and healing week ahead.

          5. santaann1964 says:

            We all know because we have all been there. This is a great place to be. Trust me it took years if studying and finally Mr.H puts it all together and his presentation is mind blowing. Nobody out of here is even close to understanding, it’s indescribable unless you have lived it and learned it here. God send our Mr. H! ❤️

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