The Hero

Many relationships will suffer from changing dynamics. We want our relationships to be at an equilibrium but really it is constant dance, pendulum or weight and pulley system working with and against us. It is a fine balance and when one partner depends too much on the other the balance is broken.

No truer do we find this than living in a relationship with someone who has major illness or psychological issues. Person “A” is sick and needy, Person “B” wants to help and ‘fix’ person “A”.  Person “B” (you- the transgender partner) pours endless energy and time into person “A” hoping for the best. You want to save your partner.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The drive and desire to help your partner is born of love. However a classic trap of a relationship is feeling like love can conquer all. It doesn’t. Love is not a panacea, it is not a cure all, and yes, it can be a losing game.

Love can soon become a duty and a chore. Frustration, anger and resentment.

This sets up a power dynamic in the relationship that places your partner as “the victim” and you “the rescuer”. Then a fight ensures and someone becomes “the persecuted”. This is known as the The Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor Triangle.

Michael Bradford describes these relationships

The Victim – Victims honestly believe they have no power and that nothing positive will ever happen for them. Their focus is on the past and negativity. They spend endless hours talking about their problems, their bad luck and how they have been hurt. They are depressed and wallow in self-pity. Their suffering is their identity. Things are never right and there is never enough. They feel helpless, hopeless, reacting rather than responding in a healthy way to the world. They always need something more before they are willing to take responsibility for their life, to take any action, to change or to heal – more love, more attention, more time or more information. They tend to be confused, living in constant fear of making a mistake or looking foolish. They always have an excuse for inaction. Apathy, depression and anger are typical symptoms. Even when something good starts to happen, they will tell you “I know it won’t last” and, as they predicted, it soon ends in failure. After spending time with a victim you feel worn out, depleted and depressed from their negativity. You may feel as if your energy has been drained from you. Regardless of how much time, information, energy or support you provide Victims with, they seldom change. It is important to remember that people only change when they are ready to take full responsibility for all of their thoughts, words, actions and creations – till then, there is little positive momentum!

The Rescuer – Rescuers believe they have all the answers and know the right solutions for others. Although their own lives are often in shambles, they spend hours, days, weeks or even years attempting to change, control and to get love from others. Rescuers frequently wear a false cloak of power and superiority, always appearing to be confident and in control. Rescuers love to take care of and direct the lives of other people. Through controlling and changing others, Rescuers attempt to gain a sense of identity as well as to gain love, attention and respect. They pretend to know more than other people and frequently have an answer for everything, even though they have little, if any, actual knowledge or experience regarding the subject. A Rescuer, on the surface, looks like the “good guy/woman” and is often depicted in movies as the “hero” wearing a white hat and riding a white horse. Rescuers are personified and glorified as saviours or white knights saving others from distress and evil. Without someone, something or a cause to Rescue, these people are lost and jobless! They don’t realise they need to rescue themselves!

The Persecutor – Persecutors blame others for their upsets. Here both Victims and Rescuers, become Persecutors, venting their frustration, anger and resentment at others, blaming others for their negative feelings. Rather than taking personal responsibility and walking away from the person who they accuse of irritating them, they stay locked into the destructive patterns, antagonising and attacking the “source of their frustration.” The Victim is angry with the Rescuer, claiming they push too hard, demand too much, bring up pain, pressure them to change, etc.” The Rescuer is angry with the Victim for not appreciating, not understanding or not changing fast enough, making comments such as “if only you had taken my advice, if only you would listen, change and do what I say … etc.” Persecutors punish others through destructive actions such as dominating, controlling, nagging, belittling, shaming, blaming and humiliating. A Persecutor needs to disengage, to focus on taking care of themselves and getting their own life in order!


Original Source © 1968 by the Transactional Analysis Bulletin.

If you recognise that this dynamic is happening in your relationship or has the potential to happen you can (try to) fix it. The above link (    )  has an excellent ways to help you work on this. But a word of caution: You can not literally save anybody. When someone is “a victim” they must recognise their own personal behaviour and take responsibility for it. If your partner cannot see that she is being a victim and will not change you have very little hope of changing the power dynamic. Your partner is not a petulant child to be placated.

So lets let look at some examples of how this victim/ rescuer dynamic can play out in a relationship with someone who is transgender. These are simple and not meant to be complex or solve the problem but are just a guide to thinking about this stuff.
Person A= the transgender person
Person B= you- the transgender partner

Example 1.
Person A is very depressed about being transgender. Going to the doctor/ making an appointment to help with transition would be beneficial but has a fear of seeing the doctor/ making appointments. Person B agrees to organising things for Person A but Person A is un-appreciative/ won’t go/ or argumentative. Person A says “you don’t know how hard it is for me- it’s not my fault”. Perhaps Person A will say “the appointment was at the wrong time, is too far  etc”. Person B gets frustrated at the resistance of Person A. An argument ensures and Person A feels persecuted by Person B and Person B feels like a victim of Person A’s reluctance to help herself.
Unless Person A- (the TG person) can see what’s happening and takes responsibility you will be stuck fighting. Seeing a counsellor and mapping out a transition plan can help get your partner to see what’s going on.

Example 2.
Person A has a fight with her parents/ family etc and is angry and upset. Person B placates Person A and helps to soothe the hurt through talking about it (or some other way). Time passes and Person A has forgotten the hurt and upset or thinks it won’t be so bad. The situation is repeated (once or twice or maybe more) but Person B is always there to mop up the pieces. Eventually Person B gets frustrated and says or does something (or is dismissive) to Person A and Person A feels persecuted. Person B feels upset and tries to placate Person A once again for being hurtful. Nothing changes and the cycle is on constant repeat.
Talking about the situation after it has happened can be really helpful. Person B can remind Person A of the hurt and Person A might be more responsive to making an action plan for example not seeing the particular family or friend.

Example 3.
Person A uses being transgender as an excuse not to do something, for example go out with friends (perhaps Person B is going out). Person A then finds herself upset at the results and feels jealous and left out. She feels like a victim and takes it out on Person B who then becomes ‘the persecuted’. Person A then apologies and becomes the rescuer OR doesn’t apologise and it is left to Person B to apologise and make good and become the rescuer.

Example 4.
Person B (the trans partner) feels like a victim and feels lied to about her partner being transgender. She stays in the relationship taking it out on Person A who feels persecuted. Person B feels a desire/ sense of duty to stay together in the relationship but retains the victim status. Person A becomes the rescuer of Person B and tries to placate her, perhaps saying “I’m still the same person” “Nothing is certain” etc.
The reality is that your partner can’t rescue you from her transgenderism. Nothing will change the fact she is transgender.

Recognising all of this doesn’t make you morally superior. If your partner is being a victim then it doesn’t give you the right to be mean or emotionally abusive either (and vice versa).

The point of this is to highlight how important communication is and also how imperative it is to analyse your own actions and the impact they have on others. Being honest and reflection and what’s going on the relationship dynamics is super important.


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