The Savior Complex: Relationships with Hurting People
Are you starting a relationship with someone who is hurting, or someone who still has a broken heart? They are some people who feel they should be with those who need someone to pick up the pieces and heal them. They could be people with the phenomenon known as the savior complex.
However, they’re often not conscious of the risk they’re taking in diving into a relationship with a person who has suffered in a relationship. Often, this type of person needs to spend some time alone and overcome the pain themselves.
The savior complex
Having a savior complex makes someone alert to any person who is hurt and in need of care. Maybe this is a person who has suffered in a toxic relationship, a violent relationship, or felt humiliation. It’s someone who didn’t receive the love they deserved to, and who the “savior” welcomes in.
The savior may try to help heal their wounds and wait until they take that first small step forward. Maybe you recognize this type of person. If you have a savior complex, maybe you’ll also recognize the following:
- Your parents couldn’t fulfill your basic needs as a child and didn’t give you the love and care your needed. To compensate for this, you give other people what you never had.
- You parents were very authoritative and aggressive, so you consider other more vulnerable and damaged people as possible perfect partners. You go to the other extreme.
- Since you were very young, you have lived trying to please other people. Now, you find yourself caring for someone and trying to do everything they could possibly need.
- Due to your fear of being alone, or of rejection, you believe that by trying to please and help people, that will make them want to be with you. You believe that by being the way you are, other people will return the favor in kind.
As you can see, the attitude of embracing a hurt person, without giving them time to themselves to heal, comes as a result of our own experiences. However, what we often don’t realize when we start a relationship with someone who is hurt, is that we will be the ones who end up getting hurt.
When the hurt person finds healing
Once that wounded person feels “reborn”, they’ll continue as they were, thanks to the care of the person who took them in. However, what happens next? What happens is that, often, the hurt person takes flight and abandons the person who took on their pain.
This leaves the ‘savior‘ distraught. This isn’t just because of all they had done for the other person. It is also because they’ll be wondering what’s left for them. As well as having to pick up all their broken pieces, they have to recover their dignity. But, above all, they have to face their deepest fears: being alone and feeling abandoned.
They will, quite logically, consider the other person to be grateful. However, they won’t hesitate to grab the hand of the next hurt person they find, and begin a new relationship.
Save yourself from the savior complexPeople who tend to be “saviors” often think that it’s something positive. We can’t save everybody.battles
Entering into a relationship with a hurt person is a huge risk. The risk is that, once they’re better, they’ll leave. It’s a risk of caring for someone who may later become toxic. We need to stop ourselves from starting a relationship with someone who is hurt, and who feels incomplete. To begin a healthy relationship, both people must have solved their previous issues themselves.
It’s this is not the case, the relationship will almost certainly fail. In the worst case scenario, each party may end up even more wounded than before.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Mills, B., & Turnbull, G. (2004). Broken hearts and mending bodies: The impact of trauma on intimacy. Sexual and Relationship Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681990410001715418
- Johnson, S. M. (2005). Broken Bonds: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Infidelity. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1300/J398v04n02
- Dennison, S. M., & Stewart, A. (2006). Facing rejection: New relationships, broken relationships, shame, and stalking. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X05278077