There was a time when the savior complex was mentioned, you immediately formed a picture of a narcissistic man attempting to rescue the damsel in distress. Well somewhere in the last few decades the roles were reversed. Women have taken on the role of the savior. We have donned our capes and become the super heroes to our men. And while some may not find this to be problematic as women continue to find a balance in this new age society. Relationships are suffering; men have lost their identity and many women are left to pick up the pieces of shattered hearts and misplaced love.
Women are born nurtures. It’s not something that we ask for. It’s just a part of who we are. The creator in his infinite wisdom planned it that way. Our nurturing quality is primarily for the children that will come from our womb and/or the ones that we will love as our own.
However, the nurturing quality can be used in many roles including different kinds of relationships. In fact we nurture friends, plants, animals, spouses, partners, and more. The point, is that women have an innate nurturing ability that is often used in the wrong way.
The dictionary describes nurturing as caring for and encouraging the growth of…. The problem is not the nurturing quality but rather how that quality gets confused with other harmful qualities like rescuing and enabling. Women often have an affinity to anything that is hurt and wounded and in need of care. We tend to rescue stray cats, dogs and men. Dog and cats are capable of appreciating misguided love. They were made to be subject and loyal to humans. The more love you lavish on them the more they give back. It’s their nature.
Men are not wired that way. Men are wired to be the givers. They will willing receive but only after they feel they have earned the love and trust given back to them. Now, mind you this is not something that they will often confess or readily admit until they have completed some serious soul-searching. When men are treated as rescue animals it tends to backfire on the woman. While she thinks she is lending a helping hand she is really stripping him of his dignity and taking away his manhood. This causes resentment, bitterness and anger, and the domino effect rips apart the soul of the very one that rescued him.
Men were created to take dominion, pursue and hunt, kill the lion, tigers and bears, protect the family, till the ground, be breadwinners and so on. When they are taken out of their element even if it’s what they think they want, their nature knows the truth and no matter how much they may try to be appreciative at first, there is a rebellion that is bubbling up in their soul waiting to spill over. They lose respect for their rescuer and pretty soon nothing is right about the relationship.
The woman is left frustrated and frazzled; she is weary from doing everything and yet not getting any appreciation. She is baffled at this strange behavior since she is working, and doing chores and supposedly helping him get on his feet. Shouldn’t he be grateful? Shouldn’t he show some appreciation? The problem is written very clearly on the wall. Unfortunately, no one is looking and/or there are no interpreters. She has left the nurturing stage and crossed over into the rescuing stage. When you nurture you are encouraging growth, you are facilitating goal planning and processes that leads to progression. In rescue mode you are doing the exact opposite. You are coddling, shielding and protecting, ensuring as little pain as possible. You have become the protector.
Your roles have switched and now you are no longer looked upon as one that needs to be protected but rather one that he should protect himself from. This begins the breakdown of the relationship. A few years down the road when your relationship has run its course you will find that he is in a relationship where he gives over and beyond the call of duty, he protects, treasures and love. You are left scratching your head asking, why? Why couldn’t he do those things for you? The simple but oh so complex answer is, you didn’t allow him to. You became all that he needed to be. YOU were all that YOU wanted in a man. When you stopped nurturing and became his rescuer he lost his identity. His role became fuzzy. He was no longer able to see you in the proper light and so he took you for an enemy instead of a friend. So we ask ourselves, how much is too much. How much help do we offer? How much nurturing do we give? When are we crossing the line from nurturer to rescuer?
The following three signs will tell you if you have a savior complex.
Do you see your partner as a project?
Do you have your own list of things that he needs to work on? If you have a to-do list for him, mentally or physically you have left the nurturing role. You are now crossing over into the rescuer role. Now, it is perfectly okay to make suggestions, but the goal is to work with your partner not to fix or save your partner. If your partner needs fixing that is probably not the best relationship. Relationships should be partnerships with both parties’ balanced and holding their own, bringing your different strengths and weaknesses to counterbalance each other.
Do you feel like the parent in the relationship?
Are you constantly reminding him of his duties or the things he needs to do? Do you feel you have to remind him that he has a job interview? Or today he should be going out searching for a job? If you’ve become the parent or if you feel like you have become the parent. Houston we have a problem! Think about your own relationship with your parents. After you became an adult you no longer wanted your parents to make decisions for you. In fact, you began to resent them if they continued this overbearing behavior. If you are in a parent role you are no longer in balanced partner to partner relationship.
Do you find yourself having less and less open communication about things that matter?
In rescue mode the goal is to keep away the pain. So we tend not to address those thing that need to be addressed. We keep more and more to ourselves, bearing the burden because we feel like it’s too much for our partner to handle. In this scenario not only has he lost his cape he has lost his ability to think, plan and prepare. Instead of being useful his entire being is useless. There is simply nothing for him to do but find issues and log complaints against his rescuer.
If any of the answers to the above questions are yes it is imperative that you immediately stop the love train. If you have any hope of salvaging your relationship you must step back from the rescuing role and simply encourage and cheer from the sidelines.
Stop leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Give him back his cape and ask him for help in rescuing your relationship. Try letting him be the superhero. If he is your superhero he will rescue the relationship. If he does not come to the rescue of the relationship He is simply not your superman. Your Superman is on his way and he needs no rescuing. He will be there to conquer the world with his Superwoman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Tonya White Johnson, a wife, mother, professor, entrepreneur, small business owner, management and marketing consultant, life and career coach, mentor and author. I am inspired to lead. To leave a path that others may follow. I am inspired to help others reach their destiny. I am inspired to create positive change. I am inspired to help you find your passion and live the abundant life you were meant to live.