Let’s get straight to what is exactly a saviour complex in relationships. Do you feel the constant need to rescue your partner? When your partner is in need and you help them you feel validated? You feel more attraction and chemistry when things are going wrong with your partner because you can help and feel useful.
It’s not that you are hoping your partner is in distress but somehow you feel more useful when your partner is distressed. This all is usually unconsciously happening.
Understanding Saviour Complex in relationships
Helping isn’t bad
Now helping doesn’t always have to be bad. Of course, in a relationship, you should want to help your partner and be there for a partner. But saviour complex is something different than normal helping. It is constantly wanting that validation from your partner needing you. It is when you think you are morally superior to someone else therefore you can provide the help.
Being there and helping someone should be coming from a place where you want to empower them. Where you want them to be able to stand on their two feet instead of always needing you. But saviour complex comes from a place of always wanting to be needed. It can happen without you realizing it. In relationships, once your partner stops being in distress and needing you do you feel the chemistry die?
Questions to ask yourself
Ask yourself some questions to understand whether your helping is coming from a position of saviour complex or helping.
- Do you help your partner because you want them to feel good
- Do you try to empower your partner or solve their problems?
- Are you helping your partner because it makes you feel validated?
- If your partner stopped being in distress would you feel as if something was missing? Think of your past relationship when the problems in your partner’s life ended how did you feel?
- Do you go above and beyond and get involved in your partner’s problems?
- When your partner doesn’t solve a problem the way you would have liked what ways are you impacted in?
Saviour complex in my life
I realized that I had a saviour complex when I saw the pattern of people I was attracting in my life. People that I thought needed my help or saving. But no one needs someone else’s saving the only way most people can get help is if they try themselves. You can’t pull someone out of depression, alcoholism, low self-esteem, and family problems. They need to want to do that. I realized that I needed to empower my partner.
I would always tell myself he needs me he is going through a bad time. He needs my help through this and he can’t do it without me. It is selfish to leave at this point. The truth is he could have probably helped himself but it felt nice to be needed.
Saviour complex doesn’t mean you are intentions are wrong
In saviour complex, it doesn’t mean you are coming from a bad place. You could just want to help people like I wanted to. But I never realized helping does not mean rescuing it means empowering. If you rescue that means that person needs rescuing and can’t do it on their own. That is probably not true as they can do it on their own. If you make someone feel like they need to be rescued they will feel they can’t overcome the situation without you.
Your saviour complex can be a coping mechanism. I don’t like talking about myself so I help other people. I feel good about myself when someone needs me. That validation I got encouraged me to do it more and more. But saving people isn’t only bad for the other person it can be unhealthy for you as well. When you are so invested in someone else’s problems when things don’t go the way you wanted them to it can take a toll on your body. If you are over-involved in so many people’s issues you get stressed each time they get stressed. You can’t control the wheel of someone else’s life the only wheel you control is your own. Additionally, if you are the one taking all the control if something goes wrong you will end up getting the blame as well.
Reflecting on your saviour complex in relationships
So think about the pattern in your relationship. Observe your life with your partner. Then think of ways you can go from trying to save to empowering. Making it about the other person and not you! You can still help but there needs to be a shift in why you are helping.
Reflect on what was making you save in the first place?
You are useful and important even if you aren’t constantly trying to control someone else’s life. There are ways of helping without saving you might want to explore them.
Saving vs Empowering
I learned that rescuing is for example if someone wants you to help with an essay if you are rescuing you would just write the whole essay for them or edit it for them and not tell them why you changed a sentence. Empowering is giving the person the tools so they can reach the solution without you. So if you aren’t there they are still able to do it. This way if something goes wrong you aren’t responsible. It will be less stressful for you as well.
Now think of a time that you rescued someone. Write down how you could have helped if you were trying to empower the person instead of saving them. Writing in a journal helps with this exercise!
Liked this blog? Looking for other ways to improve your relationship? Check out our blog on how to a strengthen a relationship.