One of my big issues in my adult life has been a tendency to develop co-dependent relationships, in which I play the role of “Rescuer”. Although I am unaware of it consciously, I would bet that this fills a need in me as much as it does in my ex partners. Many healthcare professionals have “rescuer” tendencies, as do many women. I think mine are quite well developed, and have led me into problems.

If I am ever to have a healthy, boundaried, mutually respectful relationship, I need to get my head around this

i read this on Lucy’s website ( …I Recognise every one of these behaviours in my most recent relationship (and others) -and it’s partly for this reason that I know I need therapy and help to work through this stuff as I don’t SEE it at the time, only later …

Recognize a Rescue While You Are Participating In It

Learn to recognize that you are rescuing when you:
– Do something that you do not want to do because you believe you have to, and feel resentful later. YES
– Do not ask for what you want.YES
– Inappropriately parent another adult (giving unsolicited advice, giving orders, nagging, or criticizing) YES –  although I think really this came from his abdication of responsibility. 
– Don’t tell your partner when there’s a problem, or when you feel resentful, ripped off, rejected, cheated, depressed, disappointed, or otherwise dissatisfied. YES
– Contribute more than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement between you. YES although I did TRY to discuss it.
– Feel your role is to fix, protect, control, feel for, worry about, ignore the expressed wants of, or manipulate your partner.YES – fix, protect, worry about 
– Habitually feel tired, anxious, fearful, responsible, overworked and/or resentful in your relationship. YES
– Focus more on your partner’s feelings, problems, circumstances, performance, satisfaction or happiness than on your own.  YES

When I look at this list it just seems SO bloody obvious. Take the dog for example. We agreed to get a dog together. We agreed to get a collie, a breed that needs exercise and training. Who paid for the dog, me. Who paid for her inoculation, worming, puppy training, insurance, food, toys, equipment? More significantly, who put in the hours training her? Walking her ? Every weekend who took her out ? Where exactly did this “joint project” start being a 50-50 project ?. Answer , it didn’t. Like so much else he wanted the credit without putting in ny of the spade work.

So what I have been wondering is why I have become such a rescuer / fixer. It looks on the surface like such an unappealing position – leading to resentment frustration and taking on far more that a “fair share” 0f responsibility…I’ve been looking on the internet for explainations, because there are exactly none in my head ….

There seem to be a number of possible reasons why many of us cast ourselves in that role.

Nobility – This kind of self sacrifice is sometimes encouraged by popular cultural and religious beliefs. There is a strong cultural narrative that teaches us that it is more noble to give than to receive and that those who adopt this philosophy will prevail in the end. Many of our cultural heroes are people who martyred themselves or sacrificed themselves for a cause. Some of us, while we are suffering in silence, privately hope that we are winning the admiration of friends and family for doing so.

Action – Sometimes, when the world around us seems to be imploding in a world of crazy destruction, it can seem foolish to do nothing. At least if we are hacking our way through a jungle we have something to do and a task to focus our energy on. It can be therapeutic to take our frustration and confusion out on a project and sometimes the extra adrenaline we get from frequent conflict with our personality-disordered family members can be channeled to give us a kind of “super-human strength” to accomplish amazing things.

Latent Justice – Some of us, religiously or otherwise, view the universe as a place where all will be made equal in the end. Like some kind of emotional bank account, we pay in our efforts and sacrifices hoping and believing that some day, in this world or in the next, we will reap all that we have sewn, with interest.

Guilt & Pride – Some of us, while we are working hard on ourselves or on “the relationship”, harbor a hidden vengeance and secretly plan for the day when our loved-one will “See the light”, “come to their senses” or “pay back what is owed”. We may secretly imagine our loved one coming to us, acknowledging all that we have done for them, and asking or pleading for our forgiveness.

For mr I think , at least latterly it was just the path of least resistance. To complain, question or disagree with the world as ExP saw it, was to be shouted at, criticised, undermined and have things thrown at you. So best to just shut up and get on with it, until  you can’t anymore. And there are periods during all ‘normal’relationships when one partner gives more , when one needs extra support. It’s a gradual thing slipping into all give on one side …

I think there is also something about my low self esteem that can’t imagine anyone who didn’t NEED me would WANT to be with me. That I can’t imagine being loved just for myself, that maybe I would feel very insecure in such a position.

I don’t really know, I know I need to think about this some more. I know that co dependency and rescuing is a real concept and complex problem I need to deal with … I just don’t know how ….



  1. I read a book years ago that is still invaluable to me-“Women Who Love Too Much” It’s about the drama triangle-Victim-Persecutor and Rescuer-You may want to check it out, if you haven’t already. I too am a rescuer, but I am now much more able to be aware of it. Consciously choosing it at times and at times, not. And, I too imagine people coming back to me-acknowledging me and my greatness (Ha!) but in most cases, it never happens. The few times it has, I’ve already moved on.


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