Recognizing A Possible Savior Complex In Your Relationships

Feb 01, 2021
04:10 P.M.
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It's time to address riding and dying and other destructive relationship patterns. If being the "fixer" is part of your identity in relationships, you may have a savior complex.


Do you find yourself in relationships where you're always helping someone in need? It may be financial, like paying their rent, or emotional. While being there for your partner is important, being "the fixer" in your relationships can become a problem.

"A person with a savior complex believes that saving the other person is the right thing to do. They believe that they are helping the other person ... Although a savior complex might seem altruistic on the surface, it is rarely a healthy thing."

Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS, tells Bustle.

The Problem With A Savior Complex

Photo by Michelle Cassar on Unsplash

Photo by Michelle Cassar on Unsplash


A savior complex can seem like a harmless or even positive thing. Upon closer inspection, however, one may notice that it isn't as altruistic as it may appear. Not only that, but it may be mutually destructive, and you may not even be noticing it.

Having the need to save someone from themselves can be emotionally taxing. You can easily fall into feelings of failure and frustration towards people who might not want to be "saved." Moreover, you may drive a wedge between you and your partner as it can feel as though you may want to change or control them in some instances.

Attracting People Who Need Help

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Sometimes, you like a "bad boy" type because they're fun, but they can also be emotionally unavailable. You may be intrigued by this "mysterious" quality and feel like you could help them learn to love you and themselves.

Doing this can easily lead to disappointment and feelings of being insufficient. Attracting people who need help also includes people who you feel you help overcome their past.

Taking On Financial Responsibility

Photo by 金 运 on Unsplash

Photo by 金 运 on Unsplash


Finances can be a big part of a relationship and a difficult topic to talk about. In a relationship, you shouldn't feel that you are taking on all of the financial responsibilities to the point that you are negatively affected.

Financial over-commitment and generally stretching yourself beyond yourself can be a sign that you are white knighting.

You Try To Change Your Partner

Photo by Nadine Rupprecht on Unsplash

Photo by Nadine Rupprecht on Unsplash


You can identify a savior complex if you find yourself feeling like you know what's good for your partner and in what ways they can "improve."

This can also include pet peeves that you feel like you just can't get past but feel you can change. While being in a relationship includes wanting to better each other, having a savior complex usually means you can't look beyond the attribute you find "undesirable."

Perpetual Fixer

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

Having a savior complex can look like you always comforting someone who, in turn, may always be worried or insecure about life and the relationship.

In some instances, when you are talking to your partner, you're not really listening for the sake of hearing and communicating. Instead, you're waiting for your moment to give a solution.

Being A Baggage Carrier

Photo by Caroline Selfors on Unsplash

Photo by Caroline Selfors on Unsplash

Think about your relationships. Have you found that you are often the one doing all the emotional work? Healthy relationships require a balance, and if you're the only one doing the emotional work, well, that may be a savior complex.

[It's not a good sign if] you are the one doing all the work in the relationship. If the other person is not putting in the same amount of work as you, then it may mean that you have a savior complex.“

Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS, tells "Bustle."

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