I’ve fallen into the trap of falling in love with people who needed help and were struggling.
First, I fell for someone who was trying to escape from her strict parents. She wanted a way out from controlling parents and curfews. She was in her 20’s and was in college yet her life was guarded and protected. She couldn’t leave the house or attend social events. She wanted a way out and I was her escape.
Later I fell for someone whose legal status in the country was in jeopardy. She was having some issues with her immigration paperwork. I was drawn into her life story of struggle and pain. She had created none of it on her own but due to her parent’s actions, she had to suffer the consequences which meant her job and education were always in jeopardy. Her ability to stay in this country was always uncertain.
A little after that, I fell for someone who had also gone through a painful divorce herself in life like I had. She had then lost her younger brother due to some tragic circumstances. She was filled with pain and grief when we met. We immediately hit it off and I was captivated by all the struggles that she had gone through in her life.
Rescuing people could be a sign of unavailability.
After noticing a pattern of dating people who were suffering and dealing with their own issues in life, I came to some realizations about myself.
I realized that the people that I was falling in love with and being in romantic relationships with were people who needed healing and help. They were struggling with their lives and needed support. They needed grief counselors, therapists, and other professionals for the dark places they were in. The last thing they needed was me.
Yet I was drawn to people who were hurting and suffering. Instead of simply loving them for who they were, I was seeking these relationships because I wanted to help them. In the process, I realized that by helping them, I would be able to avoid my own pain and suffering. Helping others was a way for me to overlook what was going on with me.
I also realized that I was seeking unavailable people. It wasn’t that they were outright unavailable and weren’t interested in a relationship but they couldn’t be in a relationship fully because they were dealing with these other big issues in their life. That’s when it struck me that the real person who was unavailable was likely me.
I came to see that I was seeking unavailable partners because I was unavailable myself. I was seeking out people who could not form intimate relationships with others because they had so many issues going on in their lives.
My interest in them showed me that I wanted relationships that wouldn’t grow and progress because a large chunk of their lives was focused on the struggles they were facing. We would both end up working on their problems and struggles instead of becoming a compatible couple.
I was the one I was waiting for.
Since my realizations, I’ve realized that the real work that I needed to do was on myself. I can’t love others until I heal parts of myself that are still hurting and broken. Instead of rescuing others, the person I needed to rescue was myself.
Instead of trying to save others in relationships, I had to start saving myself.
Relationships are a place of mutual growth. It is not the place for one person to help, save and rescue another. What you may be doing when you’re showing up fully for the other person is avoiding your own work. You may be so consumed with your partner’s struggles, that you have little time for your own internal work and growth.
If you find yourself attracted to people with deep wounds or pains, turn the question around and ask yourself what it is about yourself that’s drawing you towards these kinds of partners.
Become more inquisitive and curious about your intentions in choosing partners who need rescuing.
Instead of putting all your attention and resources towards your partner, see if you are working on yourself. Start examining what it is about your life that needs attention and healing. What are you lacking or missing? What support and resources do you need?
Are you avoiding doing your own work by choosing partners who need all your time and attention? Are you rescuing others by avoiding yourself?
What do you need to heal? What do you need to change in your life? What are you still hurting from? What work do you have in front of you?
How to find a partner that is right for you
As an empathetic and kind-hearted person, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be there for others but when your romantic interest gets intertwined with your desire to help the people you want to date, you have to look a bit further and see what’s going on.
Are you opting for unavailability by being completely present for someone with lots of problems?
Are you avoiding doing your own work by dating someone who has a lot of work that needs to be done?
Are you avoiding your own growth by being there completely for someone else’s growth and development?
Are you not valuing yourself enough to make your story and your journey a priority?
Once you understand why you’re drawn to those who need lots of attention and support, you can start creating stronger boundaries for yourself. You can look out for people who need help and intentionally decide that you will not date people who need help or rescue.
If someone is in need of mental health, emotional or other support, they don’t need someone to take pity upon them or want to save them. They need help, not a romantic partner.
You can also change the way you go about dating people.
Being more aware of your tendency to choose the hurting can help you become more cognizant of your behavior.
Instead of choosing people who are hurting and in need of support, consider what values and qualities you’re looking for in future partners.
Who would be a fit with you? What kind of partners will be compatible with you? What types of people, based on your past experience will be the best type of partner for you?
Change your focus from looking for people who are hurting to looking for healthy people who will make a suitable partner for you. Look for qualities, characteristics, and values that will match yours. Look for partners who are at the same place you are in life so you can grow together.
Instead of falling for the people who are suffering and in need of help, you can opt for healthier romantic partners who are more compatible with you.
The route to finding a healthy relationship is to understand your underlying tendencies and being aware of what it is you want in a partner.
Remind yourself that dating and relationships are not a social service. Keep your desire to help someone away from your desire to be with someone.
Are you a saver or rescuer when it comes to dating? What additional suggestions do you have?