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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Giving in relationships: Controller rescuer, fixer rescuer, useful partnership OR healthy supportive?



In relationships, I believe most people wish to be helpful/supportive to their significant other.  Sometimes, it is in the form of emotional support and sometimes it is in the form of money and sometimes it is in the form of 'things' that money can buy.  e.g., paying another's bills, buying items, etc.

This blog entry will explore what I think are the types of giving, common aspects of them and the motives behind them.  Granted, sometimes we fool ourselves about motives and sometimes we have mixed motives, but I digress.

1. Controlling rescuer
    • Focus is on dominance.  
      • It may be subtle or it may not, but there is an 'or else' feel to this person.
    • Buys things, helps their significant other out financially.
      • e.g., gives an allowance, gives jewelry, pays many if not all of the bills.
    • Offers 'helpful' advice, that is not necessarily 'helpful'.
      • e.g., advice in dealing with family and friends will often be portrayed as 'reasonable', but practically speaking is a measure of manipulating dominance.
    • Behind the financial help lies a darker motive.  Effectively, a controller rescuer tries to buy control.  The implied deal is if you let me run the show MY WAY and just go along I will 'take care of you'.
      • e.g., if you don't complain about my drinking/womanizing/gambling/etc. I will give you what you need.
      • e.g., I will take care of you as long as you obey my requirements.  Don't talk to others, go out with friends, etc. WITHOUT my permission.
      • e.g., I will give you an allowance/give you some freedom IF you do what I need.  Instead of organically and lovingly coming to a split of duties/tasks that the partnership requires, a controller often strongly implies if not outright demands the type of help her or she requires.
    • Often positions the 'rescuee' in a position of continued dependence.
      • Independence is a threat, to a controller.  So, the controller will be careful of how much and what type of help they will give the rescuee.   Such as giving them an allowance, but not 'allowing' them to work or go back to school.

2. Fixer rescuer
    • Focus is on heroism.  Looking like the 'loving hero'.
      • He or she doesn't use dominance, but rather 'heroism' to manipulate.
      • Literally, the fixer rescuer may give until it hurts.  On some level, he or she hopes the fixee sees how much they give and feels compelled or guilt-ed into 'loving them back'.  
    • Characterized by 'idiot compassion'.
      • Idiot compassion is the highly conceptualized idea that you want to do good to somebody. At this point, good is purely related with pleasure. Idiot compassion also stems from not have enough courage to say no.
    • Buys things, helps their significant other out financially.
      • e.g., gives an allowance, gives jewelry, pays many if not all of the bills.
      • Often when he or she cannot afford it to do so.  Once again, giving until it hurts literally.
    • Offers 'helpful' advice, which is designed to make them look or feel heroic.
      • Wants to sound loving and heroic, but often is hidden manipulative.  However, once again the manipulation can be subtle.   They want to sound 'understanding' when under the surface, what they want is to be leaned on.  The trade off is if I am understanding enough, the other person will be compelled to love me.
    • This relationship is often characterized by strong codependency and can slide into a controlling rescuer relationship IF the fixer rescuer doesn't get what he or she 'needs' out of the relationship and the fixee is dependent enough.
    • In a way, a fixer rescuer may be seen as trying to 'buy low'.
      • The one he or she is attempting to fix and rescue may very well be someone who he or she would 'not have a chance with'.  But, the hope of the fixer is that through heroism, the fixee will love him or her.

3. Useful partnership
    • This is a give and take relationship.
    • This can be an element of a healthy relationship.
    • Motives can be mixed.
      • This can be a cynical tradeoff.  I'll do this for you, only if you do that for me.
      • This can also be a healthy division of labor.  e.g., I am handy and you are good at cooking.  So, I don't mind doing the fixing things around the house and you don't mind making sure I eat right in return.  Both of us win.
      • While motives are not necessarily pure, at least it is not a destructive relationship.  It is a relationship where 1+1 could equal more than 2.  That is, the relationship is a little more than the sum of the parts, but isn't a full potential relationship.
      • Alone it is not the basis for a good marriage, but a strong, cooperative partnership can be an important part of one.

4.  Healthy supportive
    • This is where each partner is supportive of the other because they truly care about their partner and his/her well-being.
      • They are attuned to their partner's needs.
      • They are attuned to the overall relationship as well.
      • They do not compromise their own needs in the process.
    • This sort of giving relationship will tend to positive aspects of a useful partnership, but will tend to minimize the selfish aspects of it.
    • This type of giving tends to maximize the relationship's potential.  It tends to be more altruistic.

Most people like to think of themselves as having the best motives.  You know, we want to think positive about ourselves.  We'd like to think we are the good partner or spouse.  It is best if we can be truly supportive of our significant other, but it is imperative that we at least try to have a productive if not 100% pure motive partnership.  Sometimes, in a relationship, our partner is struggling and perhaps we may even need to 'come to the rescue', but it is imperative that we 1) are grounded enough that we can afford to give of ourselves that way and 2) that our motives for 'rescuing' are not controlling or manipulative.  i.e., not self-serving.

Just my thoughts...