Hello, it’s me again. It’s Hannah, coming back with another edition of One Last Thing – The Level MY’s column where I tell you about things that I’m mad about. This week’s edition is inspired by the mildly horrifying number of people I’ve encountered in the last 10 years of my life.
Look, I’ve made it pretty clear: I’m not the most mentally sound person out there and I know this. In fact, the bunch of people I hang around with aren’t exactly the most sane but I love them nonetheless. What we’ve all got in common is that we’ve encountered a lot of people (mostly men) with saviour complexes. What is the saviour complex?
Reinforced by the media, the fairytale of a knight in shining armour saving a damsel in distress makes the idea of saving someone romantic, and the idea of being saved very attractive. Someone with a saviour complex will specifically seek out these sorts of relationship dynamics.
The saviour complex refers to someone who is compelled to rescue other people. Basically, you’ll see a lot of people who are inexplicably attracted to people who have issues, problems or whatnot. They believe that they can save their partner, or fix their partner. That sends up some major red flags. By saying that they can ‘fix’ a person, they’re saying that their partner is project. It’s a relationship, not a home renovation.
This complex can manifest in many ways, from the White Knight Syndrome that most Nice Guys are guilty of, to the Edward Cullen-like controlling behaviour that can lead to ridiculously unhealthy relationships. Twilight isn’t something to aspire to, and most so-called romantic ideals are a) heteronormative and b) remove the onus from the receiving partner/women to take an active role in their relationships.
I will not tell you to be your own hero. I know how hard it is to get up and face the day when you don’t have a support system. However, your partner is not your therapist or your parent. They are not there to fix past wounds or fix you, because you’re the only person who can get up and fight those demons. Your partner can make your life easier, but in turn – you can’t depend on them solely for support. You have to be there for them too.
I can tell you about my personal white knights, the boys I’ve dated who got upset when they didn’t have the money to pay for our dates and refused to let me pay. In fact, they hated it when I paid because they found it emasculating. I can tell you about the people who got angry when I wasn’t getting better before I was diagnosed and medicated, who threatened to leave me because ‘they weren’t making an impact on me’. I can also tell you about a wannabe saviour who obsessively followed me around, trying to ensure that he was my only support system – and got angry when I wasn’t getting better, when I didn’t want to rely on him.
In short, don’t be a white knight and stop thinking that people need to swoop in and save you. It’s toxic, and the real world doesn’t (or shouldn’t) work that way.