The Dangers Of Dating With A Savior Complex

“You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house, so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.” – Sarah Kay, Poet
Flickr / Destructive Compliments
Flickr / Destructive Compliments

I have a history of dating guys who I thought I could change, and I know I am not the only person (male or female) who has suffered because of this misguided expectation. It’s like this savior complex would take over me when I’d meet someone who I was attracted to, but was clearly emotionally unavailable. I have definitely said things like “I can help him,” or “It’s different between him and me,” about a few different relationships I was in. This kind of thinking, I’ve learned, is dangerous. In the process of trying to pull someone out of a hole they’ve dug for themselves, I have found myself up to my elbows in their shit.

Maybe this dating pattern was a way for me to avoid my own problems, looking for validation from my romantic partners as a way to stroke my ego without ever taking responsibility for my own happiness. After all, it is much harder to face the person in the mirror than it is to distract yourself with someone else’s problems. Furthermore, is much easier to excuse someone else for treating you poorly, while we hang on to personal shortcomings and beat ourselves up over small mistakes.

Whatever the reason may be for being drawn to toxic partners, this kind of behavior is not efficient, at all. I have found that guys who are out of touch with their emotions, or can’t cope with their emotions tend to leech onto their partners and suck all the positive, healing energy from them. People are influenced by whom they surround themselves with, and it is more likely that a cold-hearted lover will bring you down even if your intention is to help them.

This is not to suggest you can’t change people or positively impact someone’s life. The fallacy occurs when we are so invested in saving your partner that we don’t see the situation for what it is: draining, unsatisfying, and toxic. When you are able to accept a situation for what it is and can refocus the energy back on yourself, then personal growth happens. When you are able to become more content within your own heart, you acknowledge your humanity, and you recognize that you can’t be anyone’s savior. Save your heart for someone who will reciprocate the love and kindness you share. TC mark

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