I’m writing this in direct response to the article "Synergies between Tanks and Healers" by SaladFork of Omen of Clarity in which he describes a special bond that he’s formed with a Holy Paladin frequently assigned to help keep him alive during raids. Be sure to read the whole article, but here’s a snippet for context:
Being a tank means you’re a constant magnet for heals (obviously), but it still sends a tingle down your spine when you see your health bar topping off and noticing that one healer giving it their all just to keep YOU alive. It’s almost an instant friendship, and it’s hard to describe.
As SaladFork is typically specced Feral for the purpose of tanking, he’s written the article primarily from a tank’s point of view. I’d like to share my own thoughts on the matter from a healer’s perspective.
I definitely think there is a sort of empathy that develops between tanks and healers, and that this relationship is even more pronounced when the healer is played by a female and the tank is played by a male. Typical gender roles hold that women are generally nurturers while men are generally protectors. I think this is one reason so many real life couples — including Mr. Phae and myself — often gravitate toward Healer-Tank pairs. In such a relationship, the female player will sometimes even make suboptimal choices in terms of talent spec and gear selection while leveling to further enhance her healing abilities (i.e., speccing more deeply Restoration and forgoing more damage-oriented talents in the Balance tree). This behavior is likely less pronounced in male players who tend to play more min-maxxed characters and have little reservation about "tanking with a 2-hander."
Real life relationships aside, a bond can develop between a healer and her tank(s) over time. There is something that feels very protective about being the healer to drop out of Tree form to cast a Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch for 9K hit points on a tank who you just know would otherwise have been so much Cream-of-Bear without you. Likewise, a tank that uses an addon that displays incoming heals and the person who casts them (with a threshold to prevent the overwhelming display of HoT-ticks), is likely to feel a special affinity for the healer(s) who consistently go above and beyond to keep him alive. I would like to think that this is especially true for Druids since rolling one or more HoTs on a tank represents a constant influx of healing and attention, almost like — at the risk of sounding corny — wrapping him in a warm blanket.
It is for this reason that I have developed and foster a relationship with one of my guild tanks in particular. I send him the Healing Potions, Protection scrolls, and Stamina food I come across, and he, in turn, sends me any Super Mana Potions, and Intellect or Spirit scrolls. And while I don’t frequently assign myself as his specific healer (since he is one of the better-geared tanks and can get by without my constant attention), I make an effort to keep HoTs on him even when I’m healing someone else.
Besides tanks, a healer’s frequent need-to-nurture can work to the advantage of DPS players. There is a female Gnome Rogue in my guild (with pink hair, no less) that SQUEAKS every time she’s hit. Even though I know she’s played by a male in real life (and a very nice one at that), there is an automatic "OH NO DON’T LET HER DIE SHE’S SO CUTE!" reaction the instant I hear that sound. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. If I ever did play a Warrior tank, I’d make sure she were a Gnome. Then I’d get all the heals!