We’ve all grown up listening to fairytales about how the knight in shining armour always saves the damsel in distress making us women seem like we always need saving. This is also why romantic relationships usually tend to have one person who is the rescuer. While it’s normal for partners to save each other every now and then but sometimes this can become unhealthy if one partner has the compulsive need to play saviour for the other. There’s a term for it too, it’s called the ‘white knight syndrome’. And I promise you, as romantic as it may sound, it’s actually very unhealthy.
This term refers to someone who feels the compulsive need to be the saviour in a romantic relationship and it may sound heroic but the truth is that this saving usually comes at the cost of one’s own needs and well-being. Most would assume that men are the ones who rush to save their partners, the poor little damsel in distress but you couldn’t be more wrong. This is something that a person of any gender can suffer from. While we have known men to be the saviours, women are often the ones doing the emotional labour and end up being the emotional caretakers in a relationship which can lead to them suffering from the white knight syndrome meaning they may be the ones making silent sacrifices for their romantic partner.
You tend to pick a partner with problematic behaviour or problems in their lives because you consider yourself to be a “fixer” and try to rescue them. More often than not, you gravitate towards people who have problems and idealise them while trying to save them. You consider them to be fragile and try to take care of them at the cost of your own pain.
Forget idealising, you end up overly romanticising the idea of your partner and put them on a pedestal even after they display unhealthy, toxic or problematic behavioural patterns. You don’t accept them how they are and stand by them, instead, you try to fix them or fix their lives or even save them from their own demons because of your own need to rescue them.
It’s not uncommon for people with white knight syndrome to be independent on their partner. This can make one clingy which means that you need your partner around to feel complete and not having them around makes you feel like they abandoned you. And if, for any reason, they choose to walk away from you or you’re unable to “fix” them, it makes you feel like a total and absolute failure.
While you manage to provide a safe space for your partner to be vulnerable and open up, you choose to hide away your vulnerabilities and always try to be the strong one in the relationship. People with white knight syndrome can’t help but portray that they’re strong and provide the emotional care and love that their partner needs while ignoring and sacrificing their own needs. This makes people feel that they can save their partner but they themselves don’t need saving or emotional care or rather that their partner is incapable of giving it to them because they need to be rescued themselves.
Someone with white knight syndrome often makes their sense of self and self-worth all about the people who they’re trying to fix or rather the fixing part of it. They feel a sense of pride upon being able to save someone which is what their identity is in a relationship. Instead of focusing on healing their own wounds, they tend to others and when they fail at “saving”, “rescuing” or “fixing” someone they are romantically involved with, they begin to feel like a failure. For them, their life is all about saving a certain someone and they tend to get fixated on healing this person’s wounds while neglecting their own wounds and needs.
You may have been accused of being controlling, a control freak or a micromanager if you have the white knight syndrome. In an attempt to “fix” your partner, you might be controlling their actions and life in a subconscious manner because you don’t want anything or anyone to harm or hurt them but TBH, can you really ever prevent that and protect them or even yourself? What you’re trying to achieve is essentially impossible.
The white knight syndrome usually means that you have abandonment issues or unhealed wounds from your past. So, maybe it’s time you heal, fix and save yourself before you become the knight in shining armour for someone else.