9 Ways To Stop Trying To 'Save' The Lost People You Always Seem To Attract

Photo: Aramyan, annebaek | Canva
Troubled man and a woman curiously looking at him, planning to 'fix' him

Your inner voice tells you, “I can save them! I’m the one they need!”

The thousand-yard stare pulls you into their orbit. You are tempted to take them home for some lengthy R-and-R to help soothe their suffering, but this is hazardous territory. I have been down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland, and it’s as dangerous as exhausting.

Many of us have tried to rescue someone and barely escaped.

You might end up in worse shape than them because no one but certified lifeguards should ever jump in the pool with a drowning swimmer. Even psychologists and psychiatrists let other professionals heal their family members and friends, no matter how tempting it looks to try to save them.

If you are empathetic and have attempted to rescue a traumatized person before, ask your friends to remind you of the outcome of the last time you jumped into the metaphorical pool to save someone. What did it cost you?

Trust me, you don't need to save them from their broken hearts or lives. Feel free to save your compassion for friends who are open to it and step away from the poolside before you dive in after someone who lacks sufficient skills to reciprocate.

Before their magnetism has you flying into their arms, please stop for a few minutes and focus on what YOU need in a relationship. You probably have ended at least one romance, so check your history and friends’ stories for proof of the times you jumped into the pool without checking for sharks. What did that do to your health, happiness, and financial stability?

Ask yourself, "What do you know about them?"

Open yourself to seeing the truth, and please take careful notes because you don’t want to slide into denial about something as important as your future. Don't worry, you don't have to go it alone, I'm sharing a helpful list to get you started. 

RELATED: What Your Long History Of Toxic Relationships Is Trying To Tell You, According To A Therapist

Nine ways to stop struggling to 'save' a person whom you think needs rescuing

1. Ask yourself what you know

Have you taken the time to gather enough information about them before contemplating letting them “in”?

2. Know what you want

Are you looking for a place to give away your loving feelings because you feel lonely, or do you have evidence they deserve you?

Pause for a few minutes before you answer. After you’ve let yourself absorb this self-awareness, answer.

3. Decide what to share

Are they living a life you want to share, and would they easily fit into your life? Could you be vulnerable and safe with them?

4. Stop looking for a fixer-upper

Do they demonstrate the life skills you now possess that allow you to be happy, peaceful, and successful most of the time? Or are they another crumbling fixer-upper that will take time and effort to fix?

RELATED: To The Girl Who Tries To Save Everyone But Herself

5. Consider your shelf-life and sell-by date

America is a youth-oriented culture, so men and women are assigned different shelf lives during which society deems them the most desirable to potential partners. When you hit the expiration date, some people will consider you much less desirable. That's their loss and your gain since they have saved you time.

If you are a woman, you can find a partner later in life, but it can be more difficult! However, a healthy, self-supporting person becomes more desirable after 60 because the field becomes smaller. Older people perish. Therefore, you must ask yourself, how much time can I spend on this candidate if I want to become happily married by a specific year?

6. Save your own life

“Lifesaving” also means saving your own life. Lifeguards are trained so they don’t get drowned by the person they are rescuing. If you’re a person who has codependent tendencies, which is also a dangerous path. I created my career as a Life Coach by productively applying my “over-caring”.

The shift to helping people transform their lives with proven tools, skills, and support is different than inviting a tornado inside your home. If that is your habit, please shift to focusing on yourself and your goals.

Some abusers may act helpless or like they "need" you in order to survive, but this is just manipulation and you deserve better. 

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that approximately 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S. More than 12 million women and men over the course of the year suffer from instances of domestic violence and abuse. Being a victim of abuse is not a reflection of your value. 

7. Know you can leave

If you discover unpleasant realities about a person, you can turn the corner, turn the page, and LEAVE!

Paul Simon reminded us of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” which includes:

“You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free”

If you want to surround yourself with reminders, here is another song for you. The original “Walk Away, Renee” from The Left Banke or my favorite version by The Four Tops. We’ve all been there, and that’s why “Rolling Stone Magazine” voted this song 220 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

“Just walk away, Renée
You won't see me
Follow you back home”

RELATED: 5 Red-Flag Signs That Indicate Hidden Trauma Is Destroying A Relationship

8. Let time tell

With some people, the closer you get, the faster they run AWAY! To create a satisfying long-term relationship, you need a similar ability to connect physically and emotionally. During your dating experience, you must acquire evidence of the other person's capability and longing for different forms of intimacy:

What skills do they possess to generate emotional intimacy?

What talent and ability do they demonstrate to create intimacy?

This process takes time, and my 2nd husband was on his best behavior for six months until I agreed to marry him. After the wedding, I was shocked that he snored. “Why do you snore now, but you didn’t while we were dating?” I asked. “Oh, that’s because I never slept!” YES, you can be fooled, but not if you observe your partner before you say, I Do!”

9. Build better communication skills

Problem-prevention and problem-solving are all based on communication skills. Many people don't know how to communicate actively about their feelings and needs, so they need to learn and demonstrate this ability if quality relationships can grow.

The common denominator to these steps is you must face the reality of who they are before it’s too late to exit gracefully. If you keep moving forward with an inappropriate potential partner, you may suffer, as many of us have done by trying to help someone who needs a lot of professional help to have a more stable life.

If you want to make them your friend instead of your lover, please remember that friendship requires kindness. If someone lacks relationship skills, becoming their friend is another version of jumping into a shark-infested pool without a shark cage to protect you. Instead, please use the skills you have read here to stay safe and find a great partner.

Now, you can see the danger of trying to save someone who isn't ready to be saved. Remember, you can extricate yourself peacefully and powerfully from any involvement that can never become a mutually satisfying relationship.

RELATED: 5 Ways People With PTSD Love Differently In Relationships

Susan Allan is a Life Coach whose Evolution Revolution® Trainings offer proven tools to experience joy, and happiness and let go of suffering.

Editors' note: If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help. There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto TheHotline