People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often are not consciously aware of it but they want to be rescued and they want you – the family member, the loved one, the relationship partner – the non borderline – to rescue them. Are you, if you are non borderline, trying, or have you tried to rescue a borderline lately? How is that going for you? How did that go for you?

Why is it that so many people, God Bless them, try as they may, whether they have BPD or are a loved one of someone with BPD, just cannot seem to fully grasp, emotionally and intellectually, in an integrated way, that no one, and I mean no one – can rescue someone with BPD?

The need to be rescued is huge. In fact it knows no bounds. It is a bottomless pit of need. It is dysregulated emotional distress like nothing else. The desire to rescue a loved one with BPD is equally as huge as is his or her need to be rescued. There you have it – the sum total of what the borderline and the non borderline have in common at the apex of the toxic dysfunctional and oh so painful cycle of relating that is destined to rupture time and time again.

No matter how much a borderline wants to be rescued no one can rescue him or her. A borderline in need of rescue is a borderline in need of a bonding and secure attachment (corrective) experience with a parent that they needed this with at a very young age. This is how and why non borderlines get thrust into the parent role of “object other”.



“Object other” is an absolute no-win place to be. There are no exceptions. If a borderline is going to have a chance at recovery he or she will have to take personal responsibility for that and work very hard in therapy.

Unfortunately, when a non borderline seeks to rescue a borderline, the non borderline risks losing him or herself to the absence of self that is who the borderline actually is – or shall I say – isn’t? The person with BPD lacks an identity – he or she does not have a known self or a stable sense of self. The person with BPD does not know who they are. The person with BPD in your life tries to live through you.


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Needing and wanting to be rescued is understandable. Loved Ones trying to be the vehicle of that rescue out of love is also understandable. But, please, make no mistakes about this, rescuing another human being is not possible. And, the enmeshed, controlling, and toxic dynamic that ensues between the borderline wanting and needing rescue or to be fixed and the non borderline trying to rescue and/or provide the fix for the borderline is nothing short of a recipe for disaster for both parties.

The result of these relationship dynamics is emotional carnage all around that increases with each and every rescue attempt – each and every trip around the horn that is the dysfunctional and oh so intense enmeshed unfolding emotionally chaotic drama that leaves both the borderline and the non borderline feeling as if – believing that – he or she can’t be okay or isn’t entitled to be okay or happy unless and until the other person is also okay and/or happy. Guilt for the non borderline gets overwhelming. This guilt is toxic guilt. Guilt for may with BPD is compromised by the utter shame of abandonment – a shame that binds the borderline to his or her past in ways that continue to be re-played in each and every attempted here and now relational moment.

A borderline needing rescue, pulling for rescue, unable to meet his or her needs, and a non borderline trying to rescue, trying to meet the borderline’s needs meet squarely, here, in what is the middle of the painful impossibility of codependence.

The borderline says, perhaps not in words, but implicitly, I want you to rescue me, so rescue me and by the way I will thwart you and punish you at every turn. Every time you try to rescue me I’ll ask you who the hell you are and what the hell you think you are doing. No good deed will go unpunished.


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The non borderline throws him or her “self” literally into the pit of the chaotic dysregulated emotional hell that BPD is risking the loss of this self and suffering injury to his or her sanity in the process. A process that is undertaken despite the fact that it can’t be anything but in vain.

Borderlines need to realize that they are responsible for getting the professional help they need. Borderlines need to realize that no one else no matter how much they love them or want to rescue, save, or fix them, can actually rescue, save, or fix them.

Non borderlines need to step back and disengage any and all enmeshing behaviour. When the boundaries of “self” blur with the borderline lack of self the result is two people each living like a half of a person in ways that will inevitably tease out any unfinished and unresolved issues from childhood. That’s when things really get intense. That’s when things really getting confusing. That’s when one doesn’t know if he or she is coming, going, has already gone or what the heck to do next.

Borderlines wanting and seeking rescue and the nons who try to rescue them enmesh and the result is a toxic unhealthy dynamic that sadly defies anything and everything that healthy love actually is.

© A.J. Mahari, July 24, 2008 – All rights reserved


A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.


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Borderline Personality – I Want You To Rescue Me – So Rescue Me!