The 10 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.

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27 thoughts on “The 10 Obligations of the Empath

  1. A Victor says:

    Reading this initially I saw myself in number 5. Only. Haha, rereading, thinking of how I raised my children, how I dealt with my ex during our marriage, I see several. It is helping me understand what empathy is, how it shows and what it feels like. For not having these feelings HG, it surprises me how you can describe them better than I can. Now a goal I have is to become more aware of them and be more in control of them, use them to advantage, both mine and others, when dealing with people.

    1. Truthseeker6157 says:

      A Victor,

      Yes. Exactly how I see it too. There are natural advantages that we need to recognise in ourselves. As a group, I don’t think we fully appreciate how strong we are and what power is at our disposal if it’s harnessed in the right way.

      This might actually involve drawing on our narcissistic traits too, just not with the self centred approach of the narcissist. Increased Pride and defiance might not be such a bad thing if we were being treated badly in work or being asked to constantly complete tasks outside our job remit for example. I’m never going to have a low flash point for anger, but, lose your temper and lose the argument. If I am confident my temper will hold then there are ways to turn that to my advantage also. The person opposite me is likely to lose it and look crazy before I do! In certain situations, knowing that might just serve a purpose too.

      1. A Victor says:

        Yes, Truthseeker, that is what I meant. When HG said to “ensure our empathic behaviors prevail, this preventing a lack of control environment” on one of the threads, it occurred to me that we can and should harness these strengths, both empathic and narcissistic.

        Having been raised that pride and vanity are horrible sins, it is difficult for me to swallow that those are my two strongest narcissist traits. Yet, I can see where both of them could benefit me if viewed and used properly.

        And my truthseeker trait, my strongest empath trait, is already one I embrace, I love to learn! But, if I can get in touch with the lesser ones, start to recognize what they feel like, which is a challenge because I’ve pushed them down my entire life, then I think you and I are on to something.

        I am envious of normal people who I see using these traits without thinking about it and I’ve often wondered why it seemed so different for me. It has been a struggle. But I believe one that can be overcome.

  2. lickemtomorrow says:

    I have to say I don’t think I felt I owed my narcissists, in the sense I gave freely. I know the article is headed ‘obligations’, but I don’t recall ever feeling obligated. As to a sense of duty, I could probably say the same thing applies. I was in it for all the right reasons and as much as I would consider myself dutiful and wanting to maintain standards those would not be my go to options for feeling obligated. I could probably counter that with a need to never give up and to feel I had done my best. They probably bleed into a sense of duty and maintaining standards for me. I would have kept up appearances for the sake of the narcissist, and most of all I would have felt sorry for them. It is my go to option above all others. Not in a “poor you” way, but in a way I somehow grasped there was an underlying pain wanting to be understood and thinking I had the key to unlock that.
    That brings me to the need to fix and feeling responsible somehow. And the sense of guilt in terms of not wanting to hurt others looms large.

    Obligated is probably all together the wrong word for me (speaking personally). I would say my ten desires <3

  3. JB says:

    Bugger, it appears I have all of them. I can recognise this, be aware of the implications, and avoid falling foul of them, but how do you stop the guilt from doing this?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You reduce your emotional thinking so it is less able to corrupt your empathic trait of honesty.

      1. JB says:

        How is honesty linked? Do you mean that by denying these feelings/obligations I am feeling guilty because to deny them is, in effect, pretending they aren’t there (so in sense being dishonest)?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Honesty is linked to guilt. ET makes you feel guilty by corrupting your trait of honesty. If you were not honest, you would not feel guilt.

          1. alexissmith2016 says:

            I agree. I’ve learned to lie, lie, lie. Be superficial and glib. it really does help.

          2. JB says:

            So, apart from going NC, how else can emotional thinking be reduced?

          3. HG Tudor says:

            That is the only way, but you need to understand what a total no contact regime involves.

          4. Truthseeker6157 says:

            Guilt is definitely a king pin for me too. That isn’t a recent development though, my dad always says, “You should be Catholic young un “. Guilt I wasn’t studying hard enough, working hard enough, training hard enough. Guilt when I end a relationship, although I do always manage that so something else that’s stronger must kick in to over rule it.

            Guilt is a killer, not sure how you unravel that one.
            Never thought to link it to honesty. I struggle to tell even a white lie. Maybe that’s it with the relationship side. Honesty over rules the guilt of ending it at the time, but leaves me feeling guilty after!

            I did feel guilty about the narc. I don’t feel guilty now. I feel resigned to it. I see leaving as necessary I suppose. A war I couldn’t win. I am hot on choosing my battles. I can see that 9 of the 10 obligations, contributed to holding me in place. I don’t feel those obligations now, not usually. I will on his birthday as my ET goes up. So it is definitely linked to ET, agree there. He did play a master card with me and won’t even realise. “You’ll leave in the end.” Perfect thing to say to me. Couldn’t have come up with a better one myself.

          5. JB says:

            I think I do understand the NC regime, HG. You have explained it very thoroughly in your articles. Have implemented it where relationship narcissist is concerned. Haven’t with my father though as just don’t feel I can leave my mother behind, especially at the moment, but in any case contact is very little in the current situation.

          6. JB says:

            Alexissmith2016, I could do the lying, etc, but how do you stop the bad feeling that you get doing this?

  4. Bibi says:

    I told myself and even said it to the Mid Ranger, ‘Having known you has made me a better person.’ As if all the sadness and torment was worth it. I suppose it has made me better? But just not in the way I thought at the time.

    1. Lily says:

      @Bibi: I understand, Often books (or friends) ask a question along the lines of “Have you developed as an individual because of your interactions with this person?”. The answer is, of course, yes. I had a steep learning curve of around 30 years in 13 months via what I affectionately call my “baptism of fire”. But I would rather learn the lesson now than think at age 75 of how I was duped all these years….

  5. Eternity says:

    Sad enough I felt all.of those things.

  6. Lily says:

    “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.”

    Reminds me of a comment by someone I believe exhibited such strong traits. He suddenly pointed to a circular imprint of a coffee mug on his trousers & said- “Look at what you have done. This is your fault”. As we never had a coffee together, I thought he was joking. But now not sure anymore.

    A very insightful article, HG. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  7. Asp Emp says:

    I think my empath ‘halo’ is a bit bent…..

    1. Truthseeker6157 says:

      Hahahaha! You crack me up.

      I just read that article with a fresh set of eyes and I have to admit to all of them apart from keeping up appearances. I probably would have said 5 out of the 10 were true the first time. Now it went up to 9!
      Not sure if that means I’m getting better because I now fully recognise my part in it, or, it means I’m getting worse because I shouldn’t really agree with any of them. We’re all different, no right or wrong I suppose. I feel that way about most people I hold dear, as in, I would still admit to 9 of those behaviours if the relationship failed. It was just a hundred times stronger with the narc.
      You seem to be doing really well with the ET Asp Emp, or is it anger you feel now do you think?

      1. Asp Emp says:

        Thank you TS.

        As you say, we are all different – in how we see ourselves because we have different backgrounds, different experiences, different ‘outlooks’. Yet our behaviours are similar – only because the narcissist’s behaviours are similar and the way they ‘operate’ us (the narcissist’s ‘machinations’).

        In all of the points 1 to 10 in the article – my mental response was ‘no’. Because I am not guilty. I am not emotionally attached to the narcissist’s of my past. If you read my comment on ‘Why Do Narcissists Operate From The Same Book’ – I explain something about my own ‘darkness’. If you recall I said something about our ’emotional pain’ (because of the deepness of the “bond” with the narcissist) – I suggested in that comment to you – that our emotional pain could be likened to the narcissist’s creature. Then I obtain the audio book on the creature. It was reading that when I realised and understood my own past – my childhood etc.

        When I came to the blog – and for all of my adult life, I did not know who or what I am. There was too much ET in me. I have done a lot of reflection – about myself. And also looked back on various ‘interactions’ with narcissists and once I was able to see / reflect on their behaviours and I am able to see these within HG’s articles, books and so on.

        When someone is new to the blog – others do not necessarily know what support the individual needs. The empaths respond, using their own experiences & knowledge gained from KTN. I see this site like a bookshop where we can select what resources we need, sometimes with a ‘map’ with the locations of where to go to get what is needed by ‘direction’.

        We all see things in different ways. It occurred to me last night – and I reminded myself of my ability to be able to analyse (not categorise necessarily) – I have the skill to be able to take myself out of the box if you like and look into it – whether the contents of it are s**t or not. I can only do this when there is no ET involved. This ability to analyse in a different way is because of my neurological patterns (completely different from my empath thinking patterns) – for example, when it comes to a task / procedure – I sometimes look at the end aim (the end result) and look / think through the process backwards and see where it needs to be changed or can be modified so that the whole task is done in a shorter time but reaches the same or a better result. This is one reason why the narcissists at work do not like me – because of this ability of mine. Narcissists do not like change when I apply it, it either scares them or confuses them (their need of control otherwise it’s threatened) but at the same time, they force the changes because of the way they are.

        I had a relapse a couple days ago because I am not guilty but that Lesser is. That sh**e crossed me. I was very upset about how it invoked memories. Maybe there are some who actually don’t realise that HG has the knack of knowing what and when an empath needs support and that he can apply it in ways to give the empath direction. I needed a ‘pick up’ and it was delivered in the right way. I needed reminders of my characteristics that I have shown on this blog. I respect him for that.

        1. Truthseeker6157 says:

          Hey Asp,

          You’ve got me thinking now ha ha. I hadn’t seen your comment on the thread ‘Why do Narcissists appear to operate from the same book.’ I think you might have mixed me up with LET. Understandable, she and I sound very similar! (Hello LET x)

          I have looked up your post there though regarding the Creature and the inner ‘darkness’ you carry. You didn’t take the step to narcissism, you chose a different path. I can imagine that memories from your past can surface but that they are dealt with by you as you. No construct was created to protect you so my understanding of your thoughts is that you have largely reconciled the past but that it can come to the fore from time to time, in line with your ET. Lowered ET has enabled you to address things that you had previously been unable to address. You understand the darkness or the Creature, so can relate to the narcissist in general without necessarily feeling a need to try to fix, and you feel no guilt for having walked away from the Lesser or MRN who manipulated you in very different ways, but manipulated just the same. Your ET does seem nicely managed, from where I stand at least! I’m not the most skilled at spotting it all the time. If I’m honest, possibly I see more anger in you from time to time. Always directed squarely at your narcissist though, never directed outwards to anyone else. That’s a skill right there I think!

          I’m not entirely sure what makes an empath. I know what makes a narcissist. It cant be lack of controlled environment as my childhood was ‘normal’ my memories of it are fond memories. I’m lucky. In fact I tend to measure my own parenting against the parenting I received. My dad worked away a lot. An empath, but unaware. He and I are cut from the same cloth. I describe my mum as a narcissistic normal. We clashed and there were things she did I don’t agree with. Invasion of privacy, the using against me things that I would confide, she was over protective, I’m a fairly strong force to reckon with myself, I understand why she took the approach she did, but I don’t agree with it. On the whole though, my home life was stable and loving growing up.

          I do have my own insecurities / darkness but mine come largely from me. I can’t point to any event or series of events and say that’s when that started or that’s why I am the way I am. Fear of failure. That’s a big one for me. It does hold me back. I know it’s there but can’t point to why and am unable to remove it. Guilt comes from me too. Same deal. If guilt is linked to honesty then I can blame my dad for that ha ha. The man just cannot lie. Neither can I.

          It is interesting how we all behave similarly isn’t it? We are similar but not the same. Even those of the same school and cadre will have our traits set at different levels. What we can do as empaths, our key strength, is understand. We don’t agree necessarily as we are very different in some aspects, but every one of us can at least understand. I think empaths are largely born empath. The younger me still carried the empathic traits, honesty and justice in particular. The narcissistic ones have weakened as I got older I think. Particularly after having my daughter. I’d say the empath has shone out of me since having her. Possibly my way of protecting, stepping up to the plate.

          I’m sorry you had a relapse the other day. The Lesser clearly picked the scab off a wound or two, but I’m very glad you are able to see that for what it is. Manipulation for fuel. All him, not you.

          Overall you don’t see things exactly the same way as me, but you do always get me Asp. I do like reading your comments because you always nudge me in a slightly different direction and you always make me think, or laugh, one of the two! Xx

          1. Asp Emp says:

            Thank you for your response. My ‘darkness’ was there from a young child – I don’t feel it anymore. Empath DNA (via grandmother) can be passed on but it skipped ‘mother’ for sure – hence my not developing narcissism yet I have traits as HG describes in his video on The Ultra channel ‘The Ultra Framework’ (brilliant video – describing the Empath – Narcissism spectrum).

            Thank you, I appreciate your observations “Your ET does seem nicely managed, from where I stand at least! I’m not the most skilled at spotting it all the time. If I’m honest, possibly I see more anger in you from time to time. Always directed squarely at your narcissist though, never directed outwards to anyone else. That’s a skill right there I think! “ – years and years of not understanding cos of the narcissism – I suppose it will take some time and I view it as ‘purging’. I’ve slammed that door of the past, so the ‘purging’ leaks out from under the door, if you can understand.

            RE: your ‘insecurities / darkness’ – maybe you already said it “there were things she did I don’t agree with. Invasion of privacy, the using against me things that I would confide, she was over protective”. It depends if you really feel the need to ‘look into yourself’on this one.

            It’s good to know that after having your daughter your narcissistic traits weakened. You are a good mother, your daughter will also turn out a good person for it too. Well done on that 🙂

            My analytic & lateral thinking ability is what I inherited from my father (his neurological thinking) his intelligence was unbelievable and advanced for the 1970s. It’s this trait that gives me the ability to word things differently and view things from a lateral way. I don’t have Tourette’s but when I am in that “mode”it is a way of expressing myself with less words and it is also because of my being forced to learn how to express myself using words instead of speaking – especially when it comes to using telecommunications.

            Thank you TS xx (and thank you, HG for your time & support).

          2. Truthseeker6157 says:

            Everything takes time Asp. I thought at the start there was a magical end point to all of this. I don’t think there is necessarily. There’s definitely a feeling better / feeling normal end point.

            ET does rise and fall and I’m starting to view that as just part of me. Same as my stubborn streak or my inability to put stuff together. (I don’t do shapes ha ha). I think we are all evolving here though. HG has given us the tools to shape ourselves, strengthen and maximise our respective strengths. So really, there is no end point as such, more an ongoing development!

            The purging is a good thing. Let it seep out under the door. Holding things in is one of my tricks, not sure I’d recommend it to anyone else 😉

            Lastly, agree, ‘ The Ultra Framework’ bloody brilliant!

          3. Asp Emp says:

            You don’t do shapes – LOL. Agree, we all are evolving here, getting strengths, improving our knowledge of humankind (!!) & an on-going development – for the better 🙂 I’d missed your comment because you sent it to yourself (sniggering). Enjoy the weekend x

          4. Truthseeker6157 says:

            That’s the narc in me that 😜. You too Asp. Enjoy the weekend. X

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