Rescuing the Rescuer

The rescuer is one who tries to save, prevent, protect, or mold. This role has good intentions, which can make it difficult for you to identify when this is a role that you are taking on. It can seem as though it would be even more admirable when you are taking the role of “rescuing” someone who really is in need of some level of help. However, this role can lead to a strong sense of resentment towards that very person, and even yourself in extreme circumstances.

If you have a friend, family member, or partner who is in need of help, it’s difficult to identify and maintain your boundaries. Drawing a solid line includes a risk that this person may continue to neglect himself, and the mood or behavior may even get worse. However, you aren’t responsible for anyone’s behavior, choices, or problems other than your own. Putting yourself in the role of the rescuer can make it even more difficult for the other person to take responsibility to make true changes.

In no way am I suggesting that this means that you shouldn’t be there for someone who is in need of help. However, being there for this person, and losing yourself in his problems are two different issues. This is why boundaries are complicated, but still very important to establish. You have to know where you end and the other person begins. You will best be able to help the other person when you give that person the opportunity to decide how you would be able to help. This takes you out of the role of rescuer and allows the other person to take responsibility for himself. Although this can be scary, it sets up the best path for long-term success between you, yourself, and the other person.


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