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  1. #1
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Obligation to Others

    It is common for people to feel obligated socially on many levels: they must make nice with the in-laws, have the new pastor over for dinner, hang out with work buddies to avoid being gossiped about, appease a friend who's feelings get hurt easily, remember the anniversary because it means a lot to a partner, etc. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the concept. It also is the basic plot-line for many comedies.

    I had an epiphany about myself recently. Feeling beholden to others is something I almost never experience. I understand it is often a survival mechanism, and so it's also not clear why I don't feel it more often. I believe some social contexts require it more than others, so environment can produce the behavior. So far I have little or no inner struggle to tell someone "no". If I'm talking to someone or spending time, I feel in control like it is my choice. People occasionally get irked, but that also doesn't bother me because it seems like that annoyance could be motivated by a desire to have control over the other person. By not allowing others to make me feel obligated, I am better able to sincerely like them. This is why it's easy to say "no". I do it with a sense of personal honesty that I respect and like them and so would not put them through the shame of being a bother.

    The thought of someone feeling obligated towards me is markedly unpleasant. I am strongly motivated to keep it from happening. Some people associate love with feeling obligated. My mindset also makes it difficult to ask or pressure someone to respond, spend time, or give me something I need if that is not their natural response. When I am close to someone who socializes by often feeling beholden to people, my knee jerk reaction is to be more concerned they will be responding to me out of obligation. It can create a negative loop that can result in them feeling obligated to reassure me in some way. I haven't figured out yet how to straighten this out. In such scenarios it isn't my intent to seek reassurance or explanation, but once someone starts feeling obligated to me, I do feel hurt by that so in a way it does pressure a reaction even though that is the last thing I want to have happen. I appreciate the concern, but then my focus is a need to be able to feel hurt without someone feeling responsible to fix it. Social assumptions run deep in people, and so I haven't figured out how to address this one.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    I know what you mean, I think. A lot of those things go right over my head. I definitely don't tend to like people to feel obligated to me (or vice-versa) regardless of their own will. I mean, if I'm in a situation and people are actively expecting me to do something that I don't consider wrong, I'll probably go ahead and do it. But I don't really maintain those "passive" expectations that no one directly asks of me (and if asked, might refuse). A lot of people do, and tend to interpret behavior within that framework.

    Sometimes when I'm really stressed, I kind of worry that my obliviousness to such things will eventually culminate in a bunch of my enemies (who I thought were friends) conspiring together to kill me over a bunch of such things, but that's such an extreme paranoid fantasy that I usually dismiss it.

  3. #3
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    The thought of someone feeling obligated towards me is markedly unpleasant. I am strongly motivated to keep it from happening. Some people associate love with feeling obligated.
    You have an interesting outlook on life. Regarding the quote above from your OP, could you please expand on your feelings of love and feelings of obligation. What would be a positive definition of love, one without obligation? Is it simply the desire to want to do things with/for another with no sense of external pressure? Just curious.

  4. #4
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    You have an interesting outlook on life. Regarding the quote above from your OP, could you please expand on your feelings of love and feelings of obligation. What would be a positive definition of love, one without obligation? Is it simply the desire to want to do things with/for another with no sense of external pressure? Just curious.
    People, especially the ones I love, deserve better than my resentment. If it is a situation that I can honestly admit will produce a feeling of resentment in me, I try to choose another path. It requires admitting my limitations.

    One significant underlying factor is a sense of respect rather than control. Control places one person above another as being more entitled. Respect places the other person at eye level or higher. I see love as a source of strength and inspiration, not something that drains and pressures. I see it as generating a natural desire to be with or give to someone when both people have a sense of inner freedom. I see it as a natural process.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  5. #5
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    People, especially the ones I love, deserve better than my resentment. If it is a situation that I can honestly admit will produce a feeling of resentment in me, I try to choose another path. It requires admitting my limitations.
    I totally agree, yet never would have stated the same as such. I like your writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    One significant underlying factor is a sense of respect rather than control. Control places one person above another as being more entitled. Respect places the other person at eye level or higher. I see love as a source of strength and inspiration, not something that drains and pressures. I see it as generating a natural desire to be with or give to someone when both people have a sense of inner freedom. I see it as a natural process.
    Got it, nicely put.

  6. #6
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    i feel obligated to appease loved ones all the time yes...but i certainly hope it doesn't go both ways.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  7. #7
    See Right Through Me Bubbles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    People, especially the ones I love, deserve better than my resentment. If it is a situation that I can honestly admit will produce a feeling of resentment in me, I try to choose another path. It requires admitting my limitations.

    One significant underlying factor is a sense of respect rather than control. Control places one person above another as being more entitled. Respect places the other person at eye level or higher. I see love as a source of strength and inspiration, not something that drains and pressures. I see it as generating a natural desire to be with or give to someone when both people have a sense of inner freedom. I see it as a natural process.
    This makes so much sense to me. I don't like to put myself in positions that are merely out of politeness or duty. You can feel how oppressive that can be as well, sitting in a room with someone who clearly would rather be elsewhere, but feels obligated to entertain or be entertained by you. I usually just stand up and leave because it's so stifling.

    When it's love, you want it to be a mutual thing. If you're with someone out of necessity, that's like...going to work. You're getting something done, but because you need to, not necessarily because you want to. You put it quite eloquently in the OP, I think.
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  8. #8
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    I could say a lot about this topic: Right now I'll say I'm struggling.

    I'm more socially integrated than I used to be, since I'm happy, and I've developed a lot more relationships than I had... but I also now feel a bit backed into a corner.

    I know I feel a push/pull when I fall in love; I want the closeness and revel in it, but at the same time I get scared and want my space to avoid being absorbed.

    And now I have had friends call me to say hi at unexpected times and sound disappointed if I don't call them back (yes, I'm a dork -- I screen my calls, even from friends!), but I feel encroached on. I do e-mail because I can maintain control over my time and space while still engaging someone. I do want to talk to them and often enjoy it; but that doesn't mean I like the way the phone intrudes into my life. I feel this obligation to talk to them even if it will drain me, so they'll still be my friend, and if I blow them off too much, I could lose a potential deeper friendship; yet I don't like the pressure.

    Social interaction to me has always had obligation built into it.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    People, especially the ones I love, deserve better than my resentment. If it is a situation that I can honestly admit will produce a feeling of resentment in me, I try to choose another path. It requires admitting my limitations.

    One significant underlying factor is a sense of respect rather than control. Control places one person above another as being more entitled. Respect places the other person at eye level or higher. I see love as a source of strength and inspiration, not something that drains and pressures. I see it as generating a natural desire to be with or give to someone when both people have a sense of inner freedom. I see it as a natural process.
    You have a clear and honest sense of self.
    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.
    Quite inspiring.


  10. #10
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    People don't tend to have much luck with trying to make me feel obligated.

    If somebody offers to help me out or something, and they don't ask for anything in return at the start, then they later try to bring it back as a sort of point against me, to make out that I now owe them, then I just ignore it, or else if they insist then I'll say that, if I had known there were conditions attached to their help in the first place, I'd have looked elsewhere or managed alone. This often has the very satisfying effect of making them feel ashamed of themselves

    I keep to my word and stick to my arrangements and I expect the same of others. Whether they choose to redefine their part or my part in their heads later on, I'll still stick to the original understanding. I find this is pretty effective - most people will avoid being called out or denounced as "score keepers". People who do that tend to know deep down that it's immature and doesn't win them any friends, so even if they're doing it, you can call their bluff.

    I don't consider myself obligated to like anyone or love them - those are things you can't force from people. Whoever you are, I feel my only obligation to you is to behave in a civil manner, with general consideration like I do for any human being - in fact that's actually an obligation to myself, because I wouldn't respect myself if I didn't respect others. You can't consciously earn anything more than that, it's just a question of personal taste. If I dig you, I dig you, and if I don't, I'll still be civil but I won't pretend any more than that, however many favours you do me. I might even return the favours in tangible terms, but you'll never be able to get those points converted into affection. And I'm never going to force myself to like someone just because they occupy a certain position in my life, such as mothers of friends etc etc...
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