Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Case Study: Knight in Shining Armor Syndrome

One of the greatest and worst things about dating in your 20s is the fact that it's still very much a trial and error process. But, you have your friends to bat it out with as you try to understand each situation for what it is. And, interestingly enough, I find that many of the guys in my life do things that would make for fabulous case studies.

One of these guys is Patrick (mentioned only recently), who I'm finding has many an interesting situation up his sleeve when it comes to the ladies. When I last left off, he and Lady #2, or Ms. Slow Burn were really picking up steam. Sounds good right?

Not so fast. Herein lies the hurdle: a ten year old ex she seems to have a hard time letting go of -- and who she is considering living with once again.

Now, here's where I see a huge flag: This situation, to me, screams baggage. Like, seriously. Enough for anyone to keep at bay. I mean, do you really want to deal with a situation and a history like that? Logically, I would argue no. But here's where Patrick, a smart, witty and good-looking guy defies this very rule. Essentially, instead of letting this one slide, he decided to up the ante and ask her to live with him.

When he tells me, my eyes bug out of my head. I mean, I had a hard time taking this one in only because a few months hardly seems like a basis to become roommates with someone... Especially when there's an ex of a decade, who, for all intensive purposes, is still very much in the picture. Well, at least as far as the girl is concerned.

And so I'd have to label this "Knight in Shining Armor" syndrome. Prime example of trying to save the quintessential "Damsel in Distress," which I would say is quite accurate for a woman caught in the trappings of an emotional struggle with an ex that has drained her emotionally.

In drilling it down, I'd have to say that situations like this one set the stage for a syndrome as old as time: the idea a girl needs to be saved. Or the idea that a man needs to be a hero. What's more compelling about this is that the syndrome has a little side effect: the guy channels his emotions towards a woman who is emotionally unavailable, which doesn't make it easier for a woman who would be willing to commit.

In summation: While this plays off of an old fairy tale notion, this can exist in many forms across genders and in multiple situations. The gesture can be considered sweet, but its effects can have lasting impact.

The Mystery of this Syndrome: Why it happens. Is it our instinct to protect? Maybe. Is it our desire for companionship? Could be. Is it an excuse to avoid real commitment with someone who is emotionally available? Possibly. I'm sure we could give it tons of reasons, although I don't think we could give it one satisfying answer.

So we won't. But instead, I found a great song that discusses this very topic, with the lyrics on the screen so you can see how well it applies. It's corny but appropriate... Enjoy. :-)


  1. I'm 14 and I am pretty sure I suffer from this syndrome. The girl I'm "dating" (we're freshmen in high school, I mean come on!) has abusive parents and I'm pretty sure part of the reason I like her is because I feel that I need to save her and help her through it all. My dad has it to. He has practically only been with single moms ever since my mom (he's not biological to me) and it can be a very dangerous "disease." I just hope it doesn't get me into trouble.

    1. Correction: My dad has it, too.

      I am a grammar Nazi so that just drove me really crazy and I feel like an idiot.

    2. Thank you. Your example has helped me in finding that I'm not the only one. I'm 16, and ever since my first girlfriend, I've subconsciously been searching for girls that I could help, and until my most recent girlfriend, I had no interest in long-term commitment. I met them, I asked them out, I helped them, and then I set them on their way before I got too comfortable, so that I wouldn't let any of my own problems begin to surface in any conversations we might have (again subconscious). In the case of my most recent girlfriend, (let's call her "Tiffany") I wanted to stay with her forever, but the at the start of the relationship it wasn't so. My bro (let's call him "Ned") told me that I should look around and see if I could find myself a chance for a "normal high school relationship". Well, I tried that and, the day after I asked her out, I found out that she had been cutting herself since she was 11. So I stayed, because what kind of boyfriend would I be if I left right after I found out she cuts? Then I fell in love, and I planned to stay with her for the rest of my life, despite disputes on wanting kids and moving to "New York". Then I made a stupid mistake with my friends and decided to boldly try parkour without any experience. I fell off of my roof and onto the sidewalk headfirst. I got a severe head injury and have miraculously recovered the full anticipated 100% within the past few months, however, I've been moved from my hometown of "Seattle" to "Los Angeles" and despite my endless recipient-acknowledged efforts, and the certainty that I would get a job, pay for a bus ticket, and run home thereby, she broke up with me, and now she's in a relationship with a taller, more muscular dude. So yes, my friend, it is an extremely, insanely, detrimentally dangerous "disease" (quotations optional due to borderline legitimacy of title). Be careful. This next part applies to females and to parkour, start slow and don't speed up too fast.