We all want to help our loved ones in times of trouble, but who goes out looking for that kind of relationship? Me, apparently. Here’s why it’s totally unsustainable and how I’m learning to get out of that pattern.
I’ve always loved nurturing people. Maybe it’s maternal instinct, maybe it’s just that I’m a cuddle junkie—either way, I find a lot of joy in offering comfort and nurturance to people. This goes for friends as well as partners. Sometimes even total strangers! I love to give and I’ll take almost any opportunity to do so.
Somehow I keep being attracted to guys who need some kind of help. I’m seeing a pattern emerging in my romantic life. More and more, it seems like the guys I’m attracting and am attracted to are in some state of distress. Whether it’s their mental health or their bank account, I must have a beacon that signals to any guy in need of help that I’m open for business.
I find myself becoming empathetic to these dudes. Every time I meet one of these guys, my empathy drive kicks in and I find myself immediately offering support, comfort, and understanding. Sometimes I’m even prompted to give more than is practical, like lending money or playing psychologist. Somehow the drive to help overrides my own better judgment sometimes.
Part of any relationship is giving support. Don’t get me wrong, I think mutual support is an integral part of any relationship. The key word here being mutual. If you or your partner are going through a rough time, it makes sense to help each other out. It’s when the scales are unbalanced that there might be a problem and that’s very much the case for me.
It’s turning into a bit of a drag. As much as I love giving support, it gets old after a while. If all I’m ever doing is looking after someone else’s needs, that’s not a relationship, that’s a dependency. Without equality in a relationship (not to mention the ability for each of us to look after ourselves), we’re going to come up against some major problems.
Sometimes it’s way too much. A person can only give so much and when I find myself broaching the limits of what I have to offer, I know it’s unsustainable. This is especially true when it comes to guys I’ve just met. We hardly even have a relationship—you could see it more as a series of distress calls. There have been times that I’ve emptied my empathy tank and found myself totally exhausted by it. Surely this is not what a healthy relationship looks like?
It must be a subconscious thing. Like most inexplicable but recurring patterns, it most definitely starts in my subconscious mind. Whatever it is I’m looking for in a relationship, I somehow have it in my head that I’ll find it with a man who can’t look after himself. Time to look into those daddy issues…
Does the term ‘savior complex’ ring any bells? The term ‘savior complex’ refers to a compulsion or psychological need to save other people, especially those in desperate situations or mindsets. The more I investigate this pattern, the more I realize it’s an attempt to earn love by offering salvation. Yikes. That sounds wildly unhealthy and not something I’m too keen on continuing. There has to be an alternative!
I’ve experienced enough healthy relationships to know this isn’t right. Much as it might sound like I’m only attracted to energy-suckers, that’s not the case. I’m currently in an amazing open relationship and this is a great template for showing me what loving, mutual support looks like. Having this as a reference points helps me see once and for all how unhealthy it is to get involved with men who take more than they give.
Getting out of this pattern is an exercise in self-respect. As with most things, self-love and self-respect are the answer. There’s a way to give love, nurturance, and comfort without my worth depending on it. By finally recognizing these patterns and giving myself the love I deserve, I’m finally starting to turn away from these dudes in distress and look after myself for once!
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