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  • Of the many desires we might harbour in relationships, few attract as much mockery or suspicion as

  • 'the rescue fantasy.' According to this longing, a lovernormally a manbecomes

  • unnaturally concerned with finding a partnernormally a womanwho is suffering

  • and unhappy. While ostensibly interested in assuaging her grief, the lover is in reality

  • more concerned with exploiting her vulnerabilityfor what are assumed to be nefarious ends.

  • He is excited, perhaps even sexually, by her sadness and far from rescuing her, uses her

  • sorrow to aggrandize himself. Even before mentioning the horse on which the rescuer

  • might ride into town, this is all meant toand does indeedsound properly ridiculous,

  • if not outright sinister. However, it is arguable

  • that the longing to assist someone does in fact occupy a legitimate role in healthy love

  • for both gendersand that we should dare to understand and recognise the appeal in

  • ourselves and our partners. Emotional sanity may be wholly compatible with a powerful,

  • intermittent attraction to distress. It is normal if we are sometimes drawn to, and deeply

  • touched by, what has made someone sad, what they find hard, what they have until now been

  • very alone with. It is as we discover the fragile sides of someone that we have a sense

  • of what separates them from casual acquaintances and recognise, with relief and a sense of

  • new loyalty, how much they share in our own confusion and pain.

  • We can admire people for their accomplishments,

  • their vibrant social life or their buoyancy of character. But in so far as we love them,

  • it is often because of bits of them have known suffering, because moments of their childhood

  • were difficult, because they can doubt themselves and are acquainted with melancholy and isolation.

  • Nor should it surprise us if there can be an erotic component to our attraction, sex

  • being bound up with a desire to be close, intimate and nurturing. Unless a partner allows

  • us to see their vulnerable core, it may feel as if there is nothing for our love to hold

  • on to. It would be impossible to love an invulnerable person; only, at best, to feel happy for them.

  • That said, there is a way in which the desire to rescue someone can go awry: when the intention

  • is entirely asymmetrical: when we want to rescue but have a serious resistance to being

  • rescued. It is for some of us a great deal easier to fall into the caring rather than

  • the dependent role. So long as we are assisting someone else with their fears, insecurities

  • and shame, we can keep our own collection of vulnerabilities out of sight and mind.

  • Perhaps, in childhood, we did not have a chance to come to a good accomodation with our weakness,

  • we lacked reliable nurture, had to be strong before we were ready and now flinch at the

  • prospect of opening up to someone who might betray us in the way we were once betrayed.

  • In such circumstances, starting to look after a lover can provide a psychologically-ideal

  • scenario: another's vulnerability enables us to get in touch with our own, while at

  • the same time, not requiring us to show our weakness directly, with all the dangers involved.

  • We can be vulnerable, as it were, by proxy; we can be weak via another while at the same

  • time shielding ourselves from the risks of abandonment and hurt.

  • ©Flickr/Bhavishya Goel This suggests that healthy love isn't one

  • in which the desire to rescue is absent. It is one in which the desire is honoured as

  • mutual; in which both parties have accepted the risks that come from showing the other

  • their needy, dependent and fragile sides. It is very kind to want to help someone; it

  • is more heroic and truly brave at other points to let them look after us; to show them that

  • we too are scared, small and ashamed, and could be desperately hurt by their indifference

  • and coldness. A rescue fantasy isn't wrong, it is simply only ever one part, and should

  • never be a one-sided part, of what love really involves.

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Of the many desires we might harbour in relationships, few attract as much mockery or suspicion as

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B1 US rescue desire lover longing recognise vulnerability

Rescue Fantasies

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    Evangeline posted on 2018/07/19
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