Rescuer's Mentality and How You Can Tell if You Struggle in this Area
This article is going to go into much more detail about what "rescuing mentality" looks like. A rescuer usually will enable or make excuses for the other's behavior, even if it is destructive towards the rescuer. It can also be a false sense of responsibility for someone else's feelings. If the other person is unhappy or angry, the rescuer will start to feel bad or even apologize to the unhappy person. They are looking to rescue, with little or nothing in return for themselves. Over time, they may resent the person they are "rescuing."
For example, Sarah had been in a relationship with David for almost 2 years. She's always been very responsible for her finances before she met David. David had always been behind on paying off his bills. He was constantly in between work every 7-9 months. She did not pay attention too much to this since everything started off as such a whirlwind romance. Sarah assumed that as they moved closer to a solid relationship, (in her mind, it meant when they got married) David would assume more of a responsible role. What she had blinded herself to was a pattern that they both developed in their relationship. She was particularly blind to how she contributed to this relationship pattern. He would often borrow about $ 200-300 from her every month. He would promise to pay it back. He would usually pay her back, but inconsistently and never the full amount. Over those 2-3 years, he borrowed a larger amount. She was starting to fall a little bit behind in paying her bills. She started to quietly borrow money from her parents, but was vague about why she was falling behind. She wanted her parents to really like David. Her parents were surprised at her asking for financial help since Sarah was always on top of paying her bills on time. As long as Sarah was there to "rescue" him from taking responsibility over his finances, he had no incentive to change. She did not recognize she was rescuing him from consequences that might have motivated him to take ownership for himself. After a few times of falling behind on her own bills, she started to feel resentment towards David but would not voice how she felt to him.
Frequently, rescuers on a deeper level are looking to be rescued themselves. Often times, most do not even recognize it. Is it possible you might be a rescuer? Perhaps you know a loved one who struggles with this tendency. As a clinician, I've seen several repeating common themes that rescuers share. It is a dynamic of co-dependency when there is a rescuer and one being rescued. What are some of the qualities to look for to know if you have rescue tendencies:
- A false sense of responsibility for someone else 's feelings or behavior. You feel guilty if you do not "fix" the "rescued party's" situation or feelings.
- A need to be needed, especially to divert attention on what needs to be attended to within you.
- Deep-seated fear of rejection, so to counteract that fear there is rescuing tendencies to prevent any rejection of you.
- Strong loyalty to those you rescue, but not necessarily getting strong loyalty in return.
- Great efforts put into your relationships where you rescue, but deep dissatisfaction and unhappiness in those relationships.
- Justification of your "rescuing tendencies" motivated by love or concern, but later struggle with resentment.