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Essentially he takes the position of "I'm happy if you're happy, and I need to make sure you are happy." He gets rewarded for being good and his head is filled with shoulds.
The rescuer steps in and says, "I can help you out. And it works fine, except every once in a while one of two things happens. He feels like he is shouldering all the responsibilities and that the other is not pulling his weight, not giving anything back, not appreciating what the rescuer is doing. The message underneath the behavior and anger that usually does not come out very clearly is: "Why don't you grow up! The message underneath that doesn't get said is Why don't you get off my back! He says to himself, "Poor me, every time I try to help, look what I get." The persecutor then feels bad about whatever he did or said and goes to the rescuer position and says something like, "I was stressed out, off my meds, tired from the kids.
Just do what I say, everything will be fine." Often times couples will begin their relationship in some form of this. I'm sorry." And then they make up and go back to where they originally were.
What he missed in growing up were opportunities to develop the self confidence that comes from learning to manage problems on your own.
Now, as an adult, he easily gets overwhelmed, feels unconfident, anxious.
He develops good radar and can pick up the nuances of emotions.
He is hyperalert, spends all his energy surveying the environment, stays on his toes, ever ready to do what the parents want.
The rescuer as a child was often an only child, oldest, or grew up in a chaotic family.
He usually did not have many buffers between him and his parents, and learned early on that he could avoid getting in trouble and avoid conflict by being good: "If I can stay on my toes and just do what my parents (and teacher) wants me to do all the time, I won't get in any hot water." This type of person learns to be very sensitive to others as a means of survival.
At the top are two letter, P on the left had side, R on the right.