The myth of the love rescue


I came across this piece the other day on how to ‘rescue’ and love a man who’s never been ‘truly loved’ before.

Don’t get me wrong, this idea of rescuing the unloved and showing them the way to bliss is endearing. I’d be tempted to jump on that carriage ride too if I didn’t know any better.

But I do know better.

It’s a carriage ride that always ends with the sparkly-eyed passenger being thrown off a cliff somewhere, while the intended beneficiary of bliss steals the horses, sells them at a profit, and walks away unscathed in search of the next carriage ride.

And so I feel bound to intervene.

People can write what they wish, and we are free to read what we wish. Still, let’s not mix fantasy (and bad fantasy at that) with logic (and science!). Some of my abnormal psychology and diagnostic manuals might share a shelf with poetry books, but I don’t pick up Rumi when researching Cluster B personality disorders.

Someone who’s never experienced ‘true love’ belongs in therapy, or else is open, eager, sincere, and will not require the emotional equivalent of bio-hazard handling instructions.

As complicated as love is, it’s also very simple. Everyone has issues and baggage. Every single one of us brings some trauma (or compendium thereof) to the table. With this in mind, we find ourselves in one of two possible states: looking for genuine, lasting love and connection – or not.

This idea that people want to love and be loved but are somehow incapable of either unless they are rescued or manipulated – and unless the rescuer does all the right things (as per the countless love advice recipes) – is preposterous. There’s no such thing as a human being who wants the real deal behaving like a total asshole one has to somehow rescue.

And how do I know this you ask?

Well, I know it because you, and I, and a gazillion other people who’ve been hurt before, who struggle with, or just periodically experience(d) anxiety, depression and assorted complications, do not behave like total assholes when we seek love and connection.

We make mistakes, we have bad moods and fears, but when in pursuit of love, connection and healing, we look to do that…love, connect and heal.

Like I said, I totally get the noble sentiment of wanting to rescue impossible cases everyone else has given up on. But let’s keep it to non-human animals. Rescue a cat or pony or whatever else. People can not be rescued. People need to rescue themselves.

Now let’s face it, the myth of the love rescue exists because too many of the potential partners we bump into in life are not interested in a genuine love story. Or genuine anything. All they want is a little fun and a little validation. And they don’t care at what cost to others they get it.

Although I said they all need therapy, I don’t know in all seriousness how many should be in therapy because of this, or their preference for superficiality, or the ease with which they can put up a ‘genuine’ act intended to deceive and conquer. But I do know that most people are selfish and lazy. Which traits don’t go all that well with ‘true love’.

That ‘true love’ we read so much about (and true connection) is ‘real’. And real means it’s going to reveal everyone’s vulnerabilities and issues. Once revealed, they must be dealt with.

And so, genuine relationships become all about honesty and self-reflection. That’s what the connection and love are for: to help us evolve, clean up the crap we don’t need, blossom a little, learn new skills or improve on existing ones.

Bottom line, it takes effort, and work. It takes willingness to give up bad habits and stop pretending that by evolving into healthier, happier, kinder people we’re going to lose our identities.

So yes, the myth of the love rescue is no myth at all. It’s more the sad tale of how our mental healthcare system is failing, or else a commentary on how our society is crawling with narcissists looking for a little adventure. The love gurus seriously need to stop writing nonsense suggesting otherwise, and we need to stop buying into it. Or clicking on the links as it were.

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