Before You Can Save Others, You Must Save Yourself FirstLately, I’ve been honing in on the notion that you can’t expect others to save you, you have to save yourself. First.

I tend to think that sometimes people walk into relationships that ultimately fill a void. They look to the other person to give them something that they cannot give to themselves, such as a sense of security.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we may be in the middle of acquiring a safety net. The realization that someone else is doing the saving may be romanticized (think about the enchantment of being “rescued”). But if you don’t do the work and confront yourself what needs to be confronted, you’ll never really be able to learn those lessons and move forward.

This “saving mindset” was demonstrated in one of the more recent episodes of the HBO series “Girls.”

The characters Jessa and Thomas John entered into a whirlwind marriage pretty quickly, without really weighing whether they were right for each other. They most certainly were incompatible, but they latched onto each other, hoping to fulfill what they each personally found to be lacking within themselves.

Jessa is a free spirit and floats to various relationships, trying to cure her boredom. Thomas John is made out to be someone who wasn’t the most popular guy with women, and someone who may have possibly rushed into his relationship with Jessa out of fear of being alone. Based on the glass-shattering breakup scene, the relationship ultimately fell apart; they couldn’t save each other. They’ll have to save themselves.

On a similar level, Psych Central’s article entitled Self-ishness: The Key To Finding Lasting Love discusses the conception of “completion” when it comes to love. This is an idea in American culture that another person can become your “other half” in an attempt to give you what you feel isn’t present within yourself.

I actually used to adhere to that belief, but then realized that it didn’t make much sense. Shouldn’t a relationship consist of two “whole” individuals who want to proceed through life together?

“Wanting others to fill in your ‘blanks’ is a delightful fantasy,” author Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D, said. “Wouldn’t we all like someone else to do the hard work necessary for helping us grow up? But growing up by definition requires effort.”

We may find ourselves in relationships that feed what may be absent within ourselves. We may be looking for someone to “save” us or complete the missing puzzle piece. As idyllic as it may sound, it’s more helpful to do the emotional work yourself, without depending on another to make you feel whole.



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Feb 2013
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Suval, L. (2013). Before You Can Save Others, You Must Save Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 2, 2015, from


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