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Saviour complex - any experience?

(21 Posts)
Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 10:12:54

I recently came across this phrase and had a lightbulb moment because it perfectly describes why I recently fell out with a friend.

Has anyone else experienced this?

I told her about a traumatic event in my past, purely because she is a friend. I was over the worst of it and wasnt looking for a carer or support worker but she put herself into this role.

She kept suggesting things that I should do to help with my healing, eg support groups (she wanted to come along), tried to set up meetings with contacts of hers she thought could help. Then started doing this amateur psychology on me, which was pretty damaging. I kept politely declining this "help". She was also making subtle digs at me in a jokey way.

She got in touch once lockdown eased and I couldn't face going near her so said I needed a break, which prompted an angry response from her. How could I do this after all she'd done for me...she listed a few things she'd done, tried to make me feel guilty, denied saying some really hurtful things.

I found it really hard to explain to other friends why I couldn't bear to be around her any more as it all sounds like she was just trying to help. She herself probably believes she was trying to help. She kept telling me what a good person she is and always shares the #bekind stuff.

So I think saviour complex is the thing that sums her up. She was enjoying me being a victim so she could be seen to save me. Just wondered if this strikes a chord with anyone else?

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Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 10:13:28

That was long!

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Mynameisrow Wed 23-Sep-20 10:36:53

I had a friend like this when I was younger. I felt indebted to her because of ‘everything she did for me’. The reality was that I had confided in her a traumatic experience and she held it over me that she had helped me through it.
I was already at peace with what had happened, I just spoke about it with her as I trusted her and was ready to talk about it.
I am no contact now because I couldn’t take it anymore. It went beyond help it was more look how good I am. Especially when she told others how ‘great’ she was for helping me through a tough time.

From what you’ve written I believe your friend has saviour complex, and although I’m sure the intentions initially were good they have now turned into something else. It’s almost as if she feels entitled to your success of overcoming your trauma.

Bunnymumy Wed 23-Sep-20 10:41:06

Just sounds like a narcissist or similar to me. Has to involve herself in your pain somehow. Enjoys you being the victim because she wants you to continue feeling like a victim.

That angry response and giving it 'after all ive done for you're blah blah is textbook narcissist too. Their typical brand of batshit.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 10:44:06

That sounds so similar to what my friend did with me Mynameisrow. Its definitely a case of look how good I am. In truth, she might have done more harm than good.

I'm so relieved to be able to give it a name and pinpoint why it all made me feel so uncomfortable.

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Bunnymumy Wed 23-Sep-20 10:45:02

Also 'she keeps telling me what a good person she is'. Ick lol. It's the 'I'm a nice guy equivalent. Good people don't feel the need to tell other people what hood people they are.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 10:47:42

Yes Bunny, the response I got definitely revealed some layers of batshit I wasnt aware of before. Also helps me to be sure I did the right thing walking away from this friendship.

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Bunnymumy Wed 23-Sep-20 10:51:01

Yeah she was a big old energy vampire and you spotted it. I guess it's a bit like dates who lovebomb. They get too close to you, bulldoze your boundaries, do little 'favors' for you (that they later throw back in your face). Theres a lot of disorderd people out there. Good on you for trusting your gut and telling her no.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 10:56:36

Thanks, when I was younger I would have stuck with a friend like that and put up with it, but it's great getting older and feeling ok about losing people like this. Gotta keep an eye on the boundaries!

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AllWashedOut Wed 23-Sep-20 11:03:08

If it helps to think of it this way: people with saviour complexes feel they need to help others or they themselves feel worthless, or at least lost without a role. Sadly, this can override the feelings and wishes of those apparently 'in need'. I think it comes from a compulsion to do good (in order to feel good) combined with a lack of observation skills.

AllWashedOut Wed 23-Sep-20 11:06:06

OP's feeling of rejection towards saviour friend comes from healthy boundaries asserting themselves btw. If you wanted OP you could reassert your friendship on new terms/boundaries. Your friend may be happy to be accepted with love even though she no longer serves a saviour role - could be quite healing for her.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 11:12:14

Allwashedout, maybe in time there could be a friendship again, but that would involve a conversation with ex -friend where she ackowledges that her actions caused me hurt. I don't see that ever fitting into her narrative of "I'm a good person, I would never hurt anyone". But you never know...

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Bunnymumy Wed 23-Sep-20 11:27:30

Omg no. Do not go back to this toxic person. You cannot tell people like her your boundaries. They will simply treat them like a bull would a red flag.
Besides, boundaries arent for other people, they are for yourself. You set boundaries for yourself regarding how you allow other people to treat you.

This person is disordered. She is spiteful and showed you clearly that she didnt believe you had the right to your own boundaries when you asked her for a bit of space.

Please forget the idea that she somehow meant to help you. She didnt, her kind only really care about themselves.

Mynameisrow Wed 23-Sep-20 11:56:58

I wouldn’t let her back in. People like this do not accept boundaries.

They don’t believe they don’t have boundaries because they think they have such a strong moral compass. They think everything they do is right even if people question it.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 11:57:10

Yeah, thinking about that it's not really my job to heal her. Plus all my instincts are screaming stay away, save yourself, run! So I'm going to leave well alone.

Also shes someone who is very mean about people who she feels have wronged her in some way, once you're on the wrong side that's it.

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Prisonbreak Wed 23-Sep-20 12:01:30

I have the opposite issue. My friend insisted on my help when I assured her I wasn’t qualified to be assisting in the way she demanded. I did what I could and she completely screwed me over so I walked away and I have her now saying ‘how can you turn away from me when I need you so much’

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 13:05:53

That's hard prisonbreak because your friend has put you in the uncomfortable position and you tried to help. I always think I wish I had realised sooner this was crossing my boundaries, but sometimes it takes a bit of time to get it all clear.

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WellQualifiedToRepresentTheLBC Wed 23-Sep-20 15:33:25

Yep, had a friend when I was a new mum who was like this. I was in an awful relationship, money worries, constantly exhausted, and we had confided in each other about our awful families. She sort of swooped in and was around constantly for about 6 months. Bringing around cooked dinners, etc. Lots of advice. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, I was having a hard time but I've always been one to get on with things.

Then things started to improve, better job situation, money coming in, better boundaries with family, etc and she became really funny with me. We stayed friends but it felt awkward. I remember she once invited me to a dinner party, got very drunk and ended up berating me in a weird way for bringing homemade bread to the dinner, as if I were showing off somehow??

About a year later we met up for the first time in many months. She asked how I was and I told her I had just self published a novel (it really wasn't a big deal to anyone but me!!! About 5 people bought it! Just a personal accomplishment that I wanted to tell my friend about)... She suddenly got really really arsey with me, eventually made an excuse and left. I was confused. As it turned out she then blocked me on everything.

A few weeks later I realized the pattern in it all. She'd only liked me when I was an exhausted, needy person who never achieved anything much. Once I got my mojo back, the fun was gone for her. She was the kind of person who loves to rescue, not to have a friendship of mutual support and respect.

Its an icky thing to realise about someone you trusted. Sorry this happened to you.

Imaydestroyyou Wed 23-Sep-20 16:13:45

Congratulations on the novel Wellqualified. Sounds like your friend only got what she wanted from your friendship when you were down and she could have the upper hand.

You're right it is an icky feeling. I'm not looking forward to the first time I run into ex friend, think I might be sick and run away! Sorry it happened to you too.

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Sakurami Wed 23-Sep-20 16:28:06

I love helping people and it does make me feel good. But I don't force my help, it is offered if I think they need it but if they say no or don't seem to want it then I don't continue with it.

I've had a couple of friends who weren't such good friends when my life was going well but if I had issues they were really helpful. Almost like they didnt like to see me succeed.

Angrymum22 Thu 24-Sep-20 13:52:12

My MIL is like this, it’s ok to help someone but to claim that you are a hero for doing so or to berate someone for not being grateful to you is very narc behaviour.
MIL will claim to have helped you out when in reality she has merely facilitated a situation she can take credit for without any investment by herself. She pulled a fast one with DH over a property so she could claim to have helped him onto the property ladder when in actual fact she gained massively financially from the complicated transaction at the same time defrauding her own DM.
I could write a book about her behaviour.

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