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The meaning behind “Savior Complex” by Phoebe Bridgers

“Savior Complex” is the eighth track off of Phoebe Bridgers 2020 album “Punisher”. In the song Bridgers talks about the ups and downs of having a savior complex in a relationship. A savior complex is when people feel the need to constantly try and help others, which often leads to romantic relationships where they will seek out people who they feel they can fix and help. This can often be used as a way to avoid dealing with their own problems and makes them feel a sense of purpose trying to help someone else deal with theirs.

In the first verse of the song Bridgers says “Crocodile tears, run the tap til it’s clear”. Crocodile tears are often associated as fake tears or tears people will put on for a show or attention. In this case the tears are used as emotional manipulation. By crying and showing emotion you are essentially getting the other person to break down their walls and be vulnerable so that in turn you can save them. You make them think that they need you in order to be ok. In the same verse she also says “Wake up and start a big fire in our one room apartment but I’m too tired to have a pissing contest”. She is essentially saying that she does not want to fight with this person and cause issues, she wants to be the one that can help them with theirs, not create them.

What I find very interesting about this song is that at the end of the first verse we get the line “All the bad dreams that you hide show me yours , I’ll show you mine”. But the last line of the song is “All the bad dreams that you hide show me yours”. In the beginning of a relationship you want the person to open up to you as much as they can, you want to reach this level of emotional intimacy with them. As you get more comfortable around each other, you don’t always feel the need to open up to them every time they open up to you, especially when you have a saviors complex. The whole idea is for them to open up to you so you can try and fix them, not the other way around. It makes the person feel like they have a sense of purpose but eventually they burn themselves out.

This song is so daunting to me much like her other song “Moon Song”. Although we may not all have a saviors complex, I think most people can relate to the feeling of wanting to try and help someone or feel like just maybe you can fix them. Television and movies have made people think this for a long time I believe. We often get shown relationships where the girl meets this bad guy and she changes him and he becomes this person she always knew he was meant to be. That’s not real life. I’m sure it has happened before but it rarely ever does happen, it gives people a false sense of reality and what a healthy relationship is. When we try to fix people I think what we are really doing is voiding the own issues in our lives. I also believe that trying to fix someone gets mistaken for love. I don’t always believe that in relationships like this there is always a romantic love there, I think a lot of the time the person being helped just likes having someone care for them and the person caring likes to think that they are being wanted and needed. In a way it’s a very selfish relationship on both ends in a sense. But then this begins to tie into Bridgers other song off of this same record “Moon Song”. You do all you can for this person but the feelings are not reciprocated in the same way. You’re both just using each other in a sense and neither one is really happy, you’re both just trying to fill these voids.

As we get older we being to see just how complex relationships can be, they are not like the movies we grew up watching, and a lot of times there is more heartbreak then happiness. I think everyone just wants to be happy and to be loved, two very universal things, but being genuinely happy is really hard and being loved is not the same as loving. I know as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize that being loved by someone and loving someone are not the same. The people we love don’t always love us back, no matter how much love you give to them.

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