Do You Have White Knight Syndrome?

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I’ve talked a lot about the various subsets of geek guys who have issues with relating to women as individuals, rather than an idolized goddess figure. We’ve talked about the Nice Guy, and the perils of the Geek Girl fantasy. Now it’s time to cover another branch of nerds and the issues they have with regard to women.

You may have encountered them before. Hell, you may have been one of them before. God knows I was, back in my younger days.

They are the ones who dream about being the great hero, riding in on their charger (or motorcycle, muscle car, what have you) to save the damsel in distress. They’re the ones who try to live by a self-imposed anachronistic code of chivalry and gallantry. They’re the ones attracted to the “distressed”, the depressed, needy or damaged women, convinced that they can “rescue” them from themselves.

They’re the ones who don’t realize just how insulting their attitudes are… or how potentially dangerous.

I’m speaking, of course, of The White Knight.

Hi! I represent your fear that if you don't trick a woman into loving you, you'll die alone!

If you or anyone you know has ever shown signs of White Knight Syndrome, you’re gonna want to read this.

What Is White Knight Syndrome?

White Knights are a subset of the classic Nice Guy, with a twist. Where a Nice Guy is passive, hoping that mere proximity and obsequiousness will eventually win a woman’s heart, a White Knight is active, working to “rescue” a woman in “distress”. Unlike an Orbiter, White Knights will actually take an active role with the women they’re drawn to, turning themselves into a combination protective – and – nurturing figure.

White Knights are attracted to “endangered” women, usually women with emotional issues or ones who have histories of abuse, trauma or addiction issues. They frequently have an overly idealized and romanticized vision of the women they focus on, and see them as impossibly pure and good. Similarly, White Knights see themselves as having only the purest of motivations, hoping to “save” women out of a sense of heroic altruism and expecting no reward other than the deed itself.

They are, of course, lying to themselves.

White Knights are frequently virgins or have had very few serious relationships. They frequently have little experience with attracting or dating women and often try to compensate for a lack of game by adopting an antiquated and romanticized code of chivalry instead, with an emphasis on treating women with respect and deference. The White Knight has severe issues with self-worth; he feels that he has little to offer to a woman, so he hopes to prove his worthiness by “rescuing” her instead.

Since there’s a dearth of dragons and ogres to be slain, and most of the trolls are infesting blogs and forums instead of hiding under bridges, White Knights focus on women with issues – usually involving substance abuse, past trauma or chronic illnesses, whether emotional or physical. White Knights fall hard for the Woobie1 . Although they will rarely admit it to anyone – or even to themselves – they’re motivated by the hope that by “rescuing” the fair damsel, she will be so overcome with gratitude that she will reward him with her love… or at least her body.

"Thank you for rescuing me from that abusive relationship! Please, allow me to repay you with infinity blowjobs..."


What’s Wrong With White Knight Syndrome?

A lot of you will likely be wondering why White Knight syndrome should be such a negative issue. After all, what’s wrong with wanting to help women or treating them chivalrously? Wouldn’t women appreciate a guy who treats them with respect, one who has a sense of empathy and compassion? A guy who wants nothing but the best for them? Sure he may be a little old-fashioned, but is there really anything wrong with that?

Well… that depends.  How do you think women would feel about a guy whose idea of a healthy relationship involves inducing women to feel a sense of obligation to them? For that matter, how do you think a woman would feel about a man who – as with Geek Girls – fetishizes her and her condition, rather than seeing her as a real person?

When you actually stop to think about it, The White Knight’s behavior is actually surprisingly misogynistic. It’s certainly not his intention; in fact, many White Knights would insist that they see women as being superior beings, so they couldn’t possibly be misogynists. And yet for all of their protesting, the White Knight’s behavior and actions are paternalistic in the extreme. By trying to come to her “rescue”, the White Knight is essentially denying that women have agency of their own and have to wait for someone else – the self-declared hero, in this case – to come to her “rescue” and “save” her from all of her troubles.

Similarly, the “chivalrous” code that White Knights frequently adopt is one with very firm roles; the man as the active partner and the woman as the passive one. After all, if the woman had a more active role, she might not need him in the first place. And if she didn’t “need” him, what other reason could she possibly want to keep him around? Of course, therein lies the paradox of the White Knight’s relationship with the object of his affection; despite the “need” of the woman, the White Knight is incredibly needy himself. He needs frequent reassurance from his partner that no, she really does love him, everything’s alright, she appreciates him, etc. etc. More than anything else, the White Knight fears losing her approval – or worse, being abandoned.

For all of the White Knight’s supposed altruism, ultimately the story is all about him. Much like someone with Munchausen by Proxy, the White Knight enjoys the “special”ness that comes with being the caretaker and champion of an afflicted young woman. The woman is essentially a prop in his own story; she’s not a woman so much as a prize.

White Knights are frequently manipulative or even controlling, in the guise of “for her own good”; once again, he needs to maintain his position as champion, caregiver, defender and aide, lest he not only lose the role of “hero” and the sympathy and admiration that comes with it, but the reason for him to be there in the first place. It’s worth noting that White Knights aren’t actively abusive, just passive aggressive and clingy to the point of being almost smothering.

Of course, for all of his championing of the ill girl or emotionally troubled, real life inevitably sets in. As appealing as the fantasy is, the reality is that helping someone with emotional or physical trauma or addiction issues is never easy, simple, pretty or terribly glamorous. It’s messy, it’s ugly and it’s complicated. It means dealing with setbacks – not ones that are suitably-dramatic-but-easily-overcome, but ones that can undo years of work and struggle and devastate people emotionally. A White Knight rarely understands – truly understands – that chronic conditions are often permanent, and being the partner of someone with one means that these entail a lifetime of dealing with them.

When that realization finally sinks in, the addictive rush and thrill of the fantasy start to pale and the reality begins to assert itself. The White Knight then finds himself faced with a choice: abandon the fantasy and deal with the woman as she really is… or make up an excuse and eject himself from the relationship, only to repeat the process again with another suitably “broken bird”.

The Hidden Dangers of White Knight Syndrome

Interestingly enough, men with White Knight syndrome actually put themselves at risk for abusive or exploitive relationships. Because of their idealized view of women – and their partners in particular – they’re almost pathetically easy marks.

There are women out there who will look to take advantage of a man, and a White Knight makes for excellent prey. Being drawn to women in “trouble”, they’re suckers for false drama and tales of woe. Their need to “rescue” a woman often overrides their common sense and the idealization of their partner means that they’ll sublimate any sense of suspicion. Their need for acceptance and tendency to be conflict averse means that even if they do raise any objections or suspicions, they’ll back down right away rather than risk a confrontation. A skilled predator will manipulate the White Knight into fulfilling her needs, whether it’s for money, resources or connections… and worse, convince him that it’s his idea in the first place.

Even if they don’t end up as the victim of a con or a thief, White Knights are especially vulnerable to emotionally abusive relationships. The initial thrill wears off and leaves them stuck in a relationship with emotional vampire, who drains the life out of him as he struggles to try to meet her needs. Her fears and constant need for reassurance can be alluring at first; after all, the White Knight loves to be needed and being able to assuage her fears will make him feel strong. Over time, however, that need becomes increasingly unreasonable and unmanageable; she goes from needing reassurance to requiring his presence at all hours. He will find himself making excuses for her to his friends; after all, it’s hardly her fault that she’s like this, she’s the victim of horrible circumstance and it’s his duty to help her… even as he slowly comes to realize he’s not allowed to have a life of his own.

Other unstable women might take advantage of his need to please and fear of abandonment by using it to excuse her own bad behavior. It’s his fault she made a scene while they were at the gallery show because he’s being overbearing… or not attentive enough to her needs. It’s his fault that she cheated on him because he abandoned her when she most needed him, so she had to find someone else to take his place.

White Knights often find it difficult to extract themselves from these sorts of relationships once they’re in them; emotional abusers and grifters are masters at using a White Knight’s sense of responsibility against them. One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from a White Knight is “I can’t leave her, I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself.” And to be sure, threats of self-harm or even insinuations of suicide are a common way that abusers keep White Knights in line.

Not seen here: the hostage negotiator needed to extract him from the relationship.

The Difference Between White Knight Syndrome and Genuine Respect.

The label “White Knight” is frequently applied as an insult, often online, and can have the effect of blurring the lines between treating someone with respect and genuine White Knight behavior. Trolls will call other men White Knights in order to shut them up; calling trolls out on shitty behavior or for being insulting isn’t being a White Knight, it’s about not being an asshole yourself.

Similarly, being willing to help someone in need isn’t White Knight behavior; it’s being charitable.

It’s only when a man’s “defense” or aid to a woman comes with unseen strings, the way a Nice Guy’s “friendship” comes with an agenda, that a line gets crossed

The line between being a good man and a White Knight is like the difference between a good guy and a Nice Guy – it’s about application and intent. A White Knight’s “respect” for women is in the form of worship and fetishization; a woman is someone who needs to be defended. A good guy’s respect is just that: respect. Respect doesn’t imply a lack of agency or the need for someone else to come riding to the rescue, nor does it carry with it the hope of a reward or brownie points that can eventually be traded in for sex.

Treating White Knight Syndrome

As with being a Nice Guy, White Knight Syndrome ultimately is a case of low self-esteem. The White Knight’s need for external validation and  his discomfort in dealing with women as individuals is what leads him towards this unhealthy behavior. He needs to learn to accept that he has intrinsic worth and doesn’t need to prove himself worthy by “rescuing” people. By building his confidence, he’ll be reducing his neediness; that fear of rejection and abandonment comes from the belief that he has no value outside of what he can do. Similarly, by learning how to act around women, how to build genuine attraction and pursue an honest relationship, he won’t fall back on outdated (and frankly, insulting) views of relationships.

He also needs to find a passion in his life… besides women. Part of the cause of White Knight Syndrome is the feeling of emptiness in one’s life and being convinced that women are the cure. Having interests that are fulfilling  intellectually and emotionally, whether it’s work, a hobby or even a pet charitable cause will help find a purpose outside of trying to rescue people for his own selfish interests.

He’ll be better prepared to have an actual relationship, a partnership of equals rather than one of the Defender and the poor Damsel in Distress.

" does this mean I rescue you right back?" "I'm going to try to forget you just said that."


If a recovering White Knight wants to feel that he’s being truly altruistic, the best thing he could do is find a cause to volunteer for; local animal shelters and non-profit organizations are always looking for people to volunteer their time and energy.

Plus… they’re a great place to meet new people.


  1. – now say goodbye to your productivity… []

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  • Laura

    Exactly right. And you are dead on with page two- this is one of those slightly misogynistic ideals that actually puts the holder of it in almost as much danger at the girl he's focussed on, depending on the couple. From what I've seen, it's one of the most common ways for guys to fall into an abusive relationship and it's the reverse of the way some women are about 'saving/ understanding' the violent bad boy nobody else understands.

    How can you leave her even if she's stayed out all night with her dealer, keeps asking you to bail her out of jail, has now been screaming at you for hours about how worthless you are and she just tried to glass you? She's hurting and she needs you!

    • FilmKiller

      "…it’s the reverse of the way some women are about ‘saving/ understanding’ the violent bad boy nobody else understands."

      It's a bingo.

  • A.

    The white knight syndrome happens because (some) men have internalized the idea that they're supposed to be the "hero" in a struggling woman's life, because she needs saving from herself. I'm in a relationship that's eerily similar to this, although I didn't quite recognize myself as the emotionally abusive "damsel in distress" until I started reading the examples of one and realizing that I occasionally fit a bit too snugly into the mold.

    One more thing; the DID's reasons for not wanting to cut off her White Knight may stem from her own emotional insecurity; he's become her strength, her foundation, and the thought of giving that up can be terrifying. So insecurity on her part feeds insecurity on his, and it's a mess, in general. Been there. Struggling to get out. Awesome article.

    • Cat

      You can do it. The first step is recognizing that you need to get out. It may seem terrifying, but you'll be way better off, and so will he.

    • FilmKiller

      A strong support system cannot be overstated here.

      True friendship – honestly, mostly coming in the form of other women in your case if not stable family members – is the safest port in a storm.

    • MadMan

      Great article. I just realized I suffered from the same disorder recently. In light of my background it makes complete sense since i grew up with a suicidial mother. The end result was that I always got into relationships with women whom I perceived as nice, vulnerable and needed rescue from themselves. My last breakup has been emotionally damaging and I am still trying to get out! Wish me luck.

  • Greg

    What a well written, insightful and honest article. I am a recovering White Knight. I ruined many a friendship by “heroically” swooping in when my female friends were having problems. I remember taking them to the mall to talk out their problems; always with the hope they would see me as a hero. However, the women involved would either re-entering their old or get into a new relationship, leaving me behind to try again with the next “damsel in distress”. I only changed my attitude after falling prey to one of the “skilled predators” you describe. She was my first true relationship and we were only official for three weeks but the emotional turmoil that followed lasted six months.

    Now I am in a relationship that budded out of a friendship with no “heroic” strings. As such I was able to abandon my old ways and realize just how bad my time as a Knight had been. It’s good to know I’m not the only person to experience this and I only wish I could have told my younger self to stop the nonsense.

    Keep up the good work Doctor.

  • Sue

    Actually, there are cases when the White Knight also gets abusive. When the "lady" isn't as easily rescued as he thought, when the problems won't go away, when he don't get to have that feeling of being Good Hero Man (some are in it because solving someones problem is a huge kick), or when the woman won't allow him to fetichize her, the building frustration can topple over into resentment. Which might lead to some really ugly psychological mechanisms.

    I was in such a relation that went rotten and the (mostly) psychological abuse left me with PTSD, social anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue syndrome, GAD and vulvodynia ON TOP of the depression I had when I met him. Still dealing with it years later. So, no, the relationship was not golden for him either (it's not easy to live with someone who is ill), but the denial and frustration that comes with the White Knight syndrome can be powerful destructive forces as well. I feel that while mentioning the manipulation this article down-played this factor: It's not all blue eyed gullibleness.

    Now, I'm not saying that all White Knights are abusive, not even remotely so. In fact I think that is the extreme. But I think that White Knights all over need to reflect on the possibility that they are causing more harm than good with their behaviour – even when they are oh, so good, they can become enablers or cement the problems by not letting the person get well (which would lead to them not needing the White Knight anymore). People who are ill or addicted are very, very vulnerable. Even the best intentions can go horribly wrong if one is not flexible and realistic about the situation, oneself and the person in question.

    • Xam

      Such an honest response, especially putting “lady” in quotes. Stay away fellas, a lot of women are not looking for anything other than enablers.

  • SpeedyShamrock

    This has been forwarded to my roommate who after 8 months of this and the "DID" (loosely) moving across the country still felt the need to plan an unannounced trip to her new house and "visit" her to make sure she was holding up ok and didnt need any more assistance with the moving process…Along with a new iPhone added to his contract for her and paying 1 months electricity/furniture rental/car registration. Doesn't help that he majored in Medieval History in college.

  • Vince

    Wow, it's like reading the story of my life through high school right up until… hell, to a lesser degree my most recent relationship, really. In university I've gotten better (having several genuinely close female friends helped a lot), but I definitely still see a lot of the White Knight-y type symptoms in who I am. The line about finding fulfilling passions OTHER than women hits me especially poignantly right now, and it's a direction I'm trying to pursue.

    Thanks again Doc. 🙂

  • Jonathan

    What about those idiots (AKA me) who want a White Knight to rescue them? Would you say that they (AKA me, again) will run the same risk as those who suffer from White Knight Syndrome?

    • Robert Squirrel

      That certainly was the case for me…

      At 25, never had a date, hopelessly uncool, I found myself "rescued" from my situation by a super-smart, cool, lady — which was all I had ever wanted, growing up as a dude with strong anxieties & a somewhat tenuous relationship to gender. And it was pretty great at first, but within less than a month she had started deriding me for not following the "script"; I *was* making positive changes in my life, but they weren't the changes she wanted. In her mind she was forming me into a "real man", but her idea of "real man" was kind of abusive & simple-minded. And when I didn't follow the script, when I didn't start playing the role she wanted for me, things got seriously bad between us.

      Now, this example is complicated by her borderline personality disorder — assuming you know how people should act and freaking out when they don't act that way is apparently one of the symptoms. I didn't know going in that the illness would be that big a deal (she was supposed to be medicated, but kept screwing with her medications)…

      Ultimately, though, I probably would have gone through with it anyways, cause overall she WAS extremely cool & smart & interesting AND it was my first relationship ever. But it still really really REALLY sucked, and hurt tremendously, and forced me to realize that "rescuing" is a seriously flawed approach to relationships, regardless of which direction it's coming from.

    • latebloomer

      That covers something on "being rescued" by a woman (or anyone for that matter). Someone might have a better one, but that was the one that came to mind after reading Squirrel's comment.

  • FilmKiller

    You hit on something without emphasizing it enough:

    "Similarly, being willing to help someone in need isn’t White Knight behavior; it’s being charitable.

    "It’s only when a man’s “defense” or aid to a woman comes with unseen strings, the way a Nice Guy’s “friendship” comes with an agenda, that a line gets crossed."

    One of the keys that you're not a White Knight is: Are you charitable to men in need as well as women? If you're quick to let an in crisis female crash at your place while trying to convince yourself that you aren't hoping that it leads to sex, try to mark the last time you extended such hospitality to a male – or a woman that you were in no way attracted to.

    Another thing to emphasize is that no in-crisis woman that you help grow should end up with you, the mentor, teacher, or temporary protector – roles that are perfectly acceptable so long as you don't put your dick in it. If you find yourself helping a broken bird, the goal should be to help them fly away. Even if a sexual relationship "just happens" (one of the biggest bullshit euphemisms in the history of language) know that you, as the White Knight, will be stunting the growth and long-term happiness of the person you claim to care about.

  • Kyle

    Wow Dont I Feel Really Dumb So Basicly I do need to Be Somewhat of an asshole to get somewhere or just not be the helper

    • Erik

      No, Kyle, you don't need to be an asshole. Not at all. However, the one thing the assholes do right that the White Knights don't, and one of the things that women seem to appreciate a lot, is being honest about their own motivations for being "the helper."

    • Lyla D.

      Helping is fine. Helping is good.

      Helping with ulterior motives? Yeah, that tends to turn messy for all involved.

    • Maggie

      Also, most White Knights don't truly give a rat's ass about helping that particular girl. Or even getting to know her. They will bend and twist reality in their minds until she is something else. An object. You leave charitable behaviour and enter White Knight territory when the girl could be any girl, just so long as you get to rescue her.

  • Casey

    Wow. So I feel like you really missed the mark here or are looking a very narrow margin of "White Knights" that I would barely qualify as suffering from the White Knight Syndrome. White Knights are not solely men for one thing, as the article feels like it is saying, and they are not out for some sexual favor for the acts they do. Yes they feel the need to rescue people, but the keyword is "people". The White Knight has a deep rooted desire to help those in need. Men, women, children, and hell, even animals. They have a tendency to want to help anyone in need to the point of possibly putting themselves in danger if need be. White Knights are drawn to careers in policework, emergency medicine, or even military combat medics because it puts them in the position to help those in need.

    This is the first one of your articles I have read and I was drawn to it due to topic of the White Knight Syndrome, but I am deeply disappointed in what I have read here. This feels more like ranting of some one that was burned in high school when he was trying to get tail from the "damaged girl" then someone that is educated in any way shape or form on the actual nature of someone that suffers from the White Knight Syndrome and how they go into relationships. I suggest staying on a topic that you have more knowledge on in the future so as not to paint a massively misrepresenting picture about a syndrome you don't seem to know nor understand.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      I'd suggest typing "White Knight Syndrome" into Google and seeing what the results are. I'm not the first person to come up with the term.

    • Jessica

      I think you need to read more carefully, Casey.

      If you just like helping people, that's fine. That's not a syndrome.

      It's when there are invisible strings attached to your help that it becomes an issue. Wanting to help — people, animals, whatever — is great. That's called altruism. Being obsessed with "rescuing" a damaged woman and expecting that she will fall in love with you, on the other hand, is a sign of low self-esteem, as well as being pretty manipulative.

    • Your image of what a White Knight and what the article are about are completely different. And I think what you are describing isn't really a 'White Knight.' A person who considers themselves a 'White Knight' is someone who thinks the world needs them to be a better place. And, while that can be helpful, I would argue that that is a terrible, terrible attitude to have. Because that will almost inevitably lead to the Knight ending up resenting society for not treating him right or society feeling over burdened with his need to help. Because being a 'White Knight' is absolutely about filling a need. And while it might be a slightly more altruistic need than others, it's still a need that one relies upon others to fulfill, and inherently unhealthy.

      There are other parts of being a White Knight that can be dangerous to oneself, as well. Someone who is always putting themselves on the line for others at the cost of leaving time for themselves will be emotionally stunted in comparison to other people who have similar experiences. And the police officers and firefighters and members of the military who do it because they feel the need to save people can leave the needs of their loved ones behind along with their own emotional development. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a great thing to help people. And I have gone out of my way more often than most to help others. But making that how one identifies oneself as a person can be an incomplete person.

  • Jess

    I've never dated a "White Knight" persay, but I agree that some things guys do in order to be respectful can actually be seen as mysoginistic. I've had boyfriends that refused to ever let me carry any of my own luggage, groceries, etc. to the point where I just felt useless most of the time. Also, it's ridicullously hard to get most men to let you pay for your half of the bill at dinner or for every other meal. While it feels nice to be respected (I enjoy the occassional door opened for me), please remember guys that sometimes your actions go too far. Some girls ENJOY being able to take care of themselves, and there is nothing wrong with that. A relationship is about relying on eachother, not one person taking on all of the financial/physical/emotional burden.

    • Jessica

      Oh yes. Chivalry can be so ridiculous it becomes truly insulting. I held the door open for a guy who had his arms full carrying a giant, heavy-looking box, the same way I hold the door open for anyone who doesn't have their hands free.

      He refused to walk through it because it wasn't right for a woman to hold the door open for a man. I told him that since I was strong enough to hold the door open, he should be strong enough to walk through it, but all that got me was a blank look.


      • vivaldiidlaviv

        I know this is a long way in the future but after reading Jess and Jessica's posts, I had to respond.

        I am a man who is, sadly, a rare breed in this patriarchal world. I would absolutely *love* it if I go on a date with a girl who not only offers to pay half but even goes all the way and pays for everything. But talking to a lot of men, I can't help but gag when I hear things like, "If you don't got the money, you don't get the honey." Talking to some guy once, I mentioned that I'm a little depressd that I can't find a girl. I also don't happen to make a whole lot of money. He advised that I save up money because, "with the money, the women will come." Except I don't want prostitutes. I want a woman who is my effing equal, not a pet that I'm supposd to take care of like a lot of men seem to believe is the way of the world.

        I met a girl once from an online site. She was polite and nice but didn't care for a second date, which is par for the course for a guy like me, I suppose. Anyway, at one point, we walked up to the door of a coffee house and I held the door for her. She giggled nervously with a good deal of embarrassment. I felt stupid but I let it go. she probably thought I was being "chivalrous" and apparently that's frowned upon in today's society. Well, I can see why things like that *should* be frowned upon. Again women are equal to men (in all things outside of physical labor) and it's a little silly to treat a woman like a pet who can't take care of herself. But I would have held the door for her if she was a man. I jus got there first and held it for this fellow human being. I've had it done to me and I didn't think twice about it.

        Inside, she paid for my drinks before I had a chance to take out my wallet. I didn't argue but just felt hopeful that there might be more and more people like this in the world today. But talking to most men, they'd find their manhood challenged if their woman (I mean, their *pet*) had the audacity to actually pay.

        I would get very offended if someone called me a "white knight." I was born in a big city but I come from small town stock. I've helped blind people and old women negotiate curbs when others don't even notice them. And when I see women carrying heavy baby carriages, I always approach and ask if they need help. More often than not, they appreciate my assistance. True, I don't approach men carrying baby carriages but men are typically stronger and don't need help. But if he's got an arm in a sling, I would see if he needed help, too. Point is, if I see someone struggling (man or woman) I offer assistance, and not because of that retarded yet still popular notion that women are weaker than men and constantly need our help.

        • Jess

          You sound like my kind of guy. 🙂

  • Skolaidhe

    There is an female ideological equivalent to this, which carries many of the same consequences: the Beauty and the Beast syndrome, where women go after genuinely "bad boys" solely for the purpose of restoring them (that is, "taming" them) and making them "open up" and be sociable.

    I think even the most entrenched White Knight can be reached by this comparison, since they are engaging in similar behavior, with similar outcomes, albeit for SLIGHTLY different reasons.

    I was agender throughout most of my high school career and considered myself a "gentleman" (which, socially speaking, is a VERY different role from a "lady," regardless of ones gonads). I was never one to discriminate by sex, but I accept chivalry toward my elders, and I used to bow people into rooms, accordingly. I never got one ounce of flack for it, though it did start conversations with my similarly chivalric guy-friends (none of whom were White Knights, just all-'round old-fashioned). They used to protest that I oughtn't to call myself a gentleMAN but a gentleWOMAN (unfortunately, this historically means a generous sort of middle-aged married lady with no particular champions or admirers), but we eventually settled on "gentle fellow" and put the matter to rest. My behavior itself was never in question, and they allowed me to lambast the sexist elements of chivalry most outrageously, because we ultimately agreed that holding the door was something we did to be helpful to EVERYONE, not women specifically, and that special deference should be for betters, elders, and equals (in about that order).

    • Lyla D.

      Ah, yes. The "I can fix him! WITH MY LOVE!" mindset. Every bit as frustrating to see, every bit as harmful. I've visibly cringed when seeing a lady friend (or even a lady who is not a friend) fall into this fallacy. Not good for him, not good for her, and you feel like the most you can do is strap in to watch the trainwreck because when people get into this mindset it's hard to shake them of it until it goes sour (in my experience, YMMV).

    • Xam

      The main distinction being that at least the woman in situations you describe at least get good sex it of the relationship.

  • Toast

    And sometimes White Knights go for women who don't have any problems in the first place! I've had dudes tell me "Oh, you sound depressed. Would you like me to hold you?" (Dealing with shitty customers != depression, and dude, I am MARRIED.) One guy went on obsessively, wondering how to make a hot girl realize that her relationship wasn't as happy as she thought it was so she'd start seeing a guy who respected her (i.e., him). This didn't seem to be one of those cases where there was an obvious problem and the girl wasn't admitting it – the would-be White Knight was seizing on little things (the boyfriend occasionally working late, a disagreement over finances) and building his own elaborate fantasy where the boyfriend was a villain he could defeat.

  • Brad

    Wow, good timing on this article, I was just thinking about this in regards to myself. I exhibit a lot of behavior that could be considered White Knighting. I fantasize about being the great hero, the virtuous knight. I fully embrace the concept of chivalry-I'm a member of the SCA for God's sake.I go out of my way to help people whenever I can. I'm the person you can call at 2 am so you can sob into the phone. I've spent several years working with "damaged" women, to varying degrees. I love what I do, and I wouldn't easily give it up.

    The thing is, I'm not motivated by the need to get in someone's pants. I'm just really, really altruistic, almost compulsively so. I've been like this all my life, way before I noticed girls or hit puberty. I just seem to have an overabundance of empathy. Do I embrace this? Oh yes, it's a major part of my identity as a person. And I really do love what I do-there's no better feeling I've found than the sense of elation after helping someone talk out their problems for a couple of hours. Better than sex, I tell ya.

    So, does this still make me a White Knight? Should I stop what I'm doing? Is it wrong? I really do want to make a difference, but if I'm off course, let me know.

    So, does this make me a White Knight>

    • Anthony

      What you are doing is just being a good person for the sake of being a good person. It doesn't seem like you are doing it to receive recognition or honor or rewards. You're doing it because you believe it is the right thing to do. That's not bad, it is good. I would say if you are doing it for the recognition you should cut back. And, like one of the above posts, don't try to force someone to have the issues you think they have. And, lik I said above, don't hurt yourself. Ultimately, you need to be happy with yourself. It sounds like you are, so I wouldn't be worried. But if your life outside of helping people starts to suffer, then you might need to cut back. Otherwise, keep being you and making everyone around you a little happier.

    • Doctor Mead

      Hello, fellow SCAdian!

      The difference between being a "White Knight" and a True Knight (have you achieved that honor, m'lord?) is rather like the difference between a "Nice Guy" and a guy who happens to be nice. It's all in the motivation and attitude. From what you say here, you seem to be a True Knight but I'd caution about getting in over your head.

    • Myth

      I would say that the big difference between your's and a White Knight behavior is that White Knights rely on "chivalry" to compensate for their lack of social acumen. By "rescuing" a person who is in distress, they aren't doing it to be a good person (although what they are doing may, as a secondary effect be a good thing) but they are doing it to give themselves an opening with their target. Where a truly good person just sees a person in need and provides assistance, a white knight sees such as situation as an opportunity to use someone else's misfortune for their personal/sexual benefit.

      • Sexual Benifit? I tend to think I have white knight syndrome. For example: This girl I have known for years I have always cared about. She always had a problem with the guys in the neighborhood. They would always touch her and try to do stuff with her when she clearly didn’t want. I would always get them to leave her alone. When I moved away she would message me saying they were doing it again so I threatened them and told my friends to watch keep an eye on them. I think about sex with her, but I don’t want it I would simply want a healthy relationship with her and wait when she wanted it. One girl on here said this is “stalker” but I was never attached or anything when I lived in the same neighborhood as her. I don’t completely get the WKS. Btw I’m 17 so it’s a thing I just realized and started thinking about and it makes me feel kinda bad.

        • snickeringcorpses

          I think the important difference to note from the girl who talked about a stalker is that you were, as far as one can tell from what you've written, reacting to an actual problem, and she apparently welcomed the assistance since she messaged you about further problems when you weren't there. A stalker clings to someone who doesn't want them there. You sound more like a big brother sort of protector. That's not to say you could never go too far; it's good to keep checking your motivations and the reality of the threat. But it sounds like you're watching out for her from a legitimate threat. I'm making an assumption from the way you described things that you've actively observed guys in the neighborhood making unwanted advances on her, so it's not a case of a dependent girl making things up. You sound like just a good guy, not someone looking for your own advantage in the situation.

  • dvid22

    so let me figure this right, if a male is a gentleman and will actually treat women and or girl decently/dignity, it is because he thinks she is emotionally damaged and needy/depressed.

    all the articles i have read all come out to the same male are negative and females are positive, for a lot of people they get there values from there parents and lack their of. So because a bunch of women decided holding a door for them is sexist all are suppose to let it slam in ones face if that someone is behind who happens to be female (some would called that courtesy an consideration for others) cause heavens if a female should feel obligated to say thank you or hold the door back in the same situation. what the is the point, courtsey, consideration for other, giving a female a compliment,etc isnt trendy, cool and or hip.

    • latebloomer

      No, that isn't right. The point of the article isn't to say "OMG MALES ARE BAD AND WOMEN ARE AWESOME." This is geared to *help* men see that what their doing just might not be working out for them. Men who give in to the "White Knight Syndrome" can become miserable victims to women that might be "broken and damaged" but are still manipulative and evil. It was mentioned in the article. Heck, I have seen it. Also, women are just as guilty as suffering from the White Knight Syndrome as men are. However, this blog is dedicated towards MEN.

      And complimenting women is all right, but it is a lost art. The problem with most compliments that men give women come on far too strong for two strangers interacting. It's also how you do it. Otherwise it comes off as creepy and usually makes a woman feel like you only value her for her appearance, which, let's face it is the only thing a stranger can truly compliment.

      Also, all these articles frequently point out that men and women are both flawed. The difference is that this blog is dedicated to helping men, not women. Yes, Dr. Nerdlove treats us all with respect and if a woman writes him he treats her problems just as seriously, but as he has mentioned many times before that women have plenty of places to go for help. Men don't.

    • Myth

      Dvid22 I think you have this all wrong. It isn't the action of treating a woman with dignity/respect that is a problem. The motivations BEHIND those actions are the topic of this post. White Knights don't look for people in distress because they are trying to be nice, they look for people in trouble as a way to form a relationship based on the target being beholden to the White Knight's generosity. More importantly, the overall argument is that a White Knight will use a person's weakness as a tacit way of showing that White Knight's target is incapable of solving his/her own problems. This, naturally, means that the White Knight does not have respect for his/her target because the White Knight doesn't believe that the subject of his/her emotions is ever capable, requiring the White Knight to swoop in and save the day.

      Your second point about feminism is a common straw man that I think most feminists would not argue. The argument is not that opening doors to be a nice person is a bad thing. Nor is the solution to slam a door in a woman's face. Quite the contrary, I think many feminists would argue that opening doors and being courteous is generally a good thing. The problem that feminists have with chivalry is that it is based on a notion that you only open doors for WOMEN, with the reasons generally being that men SHOULD open doors for women (why should they only open doors for women?), women are incapable and need a man's help to solve their problems (in this case, opening a door), or because of sexist attitudes about women being fair and tame, therefore requiring the help of a sturdy man. The feminists question the motives behind the courteous act, and if the motive is itself suspect, then feminism calls that motive to account. I don't think many feminists would argue that opening doors for others is generally a problem. The feminist solution, I think, would be to just be courteous to both men and women and open doors as an act of kindness and generosity to both men and women.

      • dvid22

        you both have some points but to clearify (i said a bunch of women ) i implied nothing about feminism.

        • Myth

          That is fair, I made an assumption based on arguments that I have read that are similar to yours, leveled against feminism.

    • Maggie

      There's a difference between a guy who's genuinely courteous and a White Knight. I've had plenty of guys open doors for me, offer to carry heavy things for me, etc, not because they were White Knights but because they were gentlemen. The difference is that a gentleman will offer, but won't be offended if a lady politely turns down his offer of assistance. He's done his duty, the rest is on her. A White Knight will take this refusal as blame. He did something wrong, to have her refuse him! A gentleman will help a lady not because he's hoping for anything in return, but just because that's how he was raised to treat women. A White Knight does these things because he,s very, very desperately hoping for attention. A gentleman will decline, if a lady asks something of him that's really unreasonable. A White Knight won't refuse his lady anything because by god, if he's subservient and worshipful enough, maybe she'll sleep with him!

      And that's the fundamental difference. A gentleman respects women. A White Knight worships them and places himself in a role of either total subservience or of paternalistic protector, still subject to her every whim. The White Knight has no limits. He won't say no to the girl who orders him to stop seeing his friends because she just doesn't like the look of them. I know a guy whose girlfriend hates anyone female who ever came in contact with him. She actually hissed at a friend of mine when they crossed paths at an event. She has tried, pretty successfully, in fact, to cut him off from everyone female who isn't her or his direct female relations. And because he is a White Knight, he doesn't dare say no. He cannot impose limits, because that would be unchivalrous. And because he can be her all, her crutch and that role, despite whatever costs, is what makes him feel validated. His chivalry isn't about deep rooted respect, it's about deep rooted fear and self-doubt.

    • obsidianjaguar

      no … A white knoght is attracted to someone BECAUSE of thier weakness.. As a way in .. then to use the "resucing " as leverage to get what he really wants " love, respect , sex and security that comes from partnership… All this happens on a subconcious level of course , but it is much less about feeling secure and stable and then offering to help your fellow man out .. It is about feeling such low self esteem , that your only worthy enough for a relationship with a damaged person , and even then ONLy if you can add value by "saving " them .. you dont fully see the person as a person , you see them as accesble because of this weakness and you feel validadted through the act of rescue … it is far less about how much you aprecate the indivudal , and far more about how you have a deep need to be up on a pedastal as the hero , because you dont feel worth as a "equal"

  • DrNavi

    I think game of thrones taught me that there are no true knights, so I figure why try act like one

    also i've seen some of this attitude from people I know, including the scared to break up with someone encase the partner hurts themselves, good article

  • Kalla

    My nerdy ex-husband suffers from this in droves. Perhaps a glimpse into the future for the men who aren't able to overcome their chronic chivalry. My ex figured that once he got the girl (at 17 years of age) he had succeeded at his life's most sincere challenge and that everything else would fall into place. We both realized after I dragged him through his education, into his job and into financial security, that he was right. Except HE hadn't accomplished anything, and I was tired of the white knight constantly off to find another damsel while his already-won kitchen wench toiled at her job and at home. There's only so long you can live off a single victory of getting a girl to go out with you, and getting treated like a prize to be won/kept gets old fast. I'm very happy now with my nerdy feminist man who treats me like a person.

  • Gracie

    The White Knight reminds me of Edward Cullen… who is at once the White Knight AND the person he's supposed to be rescuing the Damsel in Distress from 😀 Go figure!

  • chrisjozo

    You should read the Dresden files. The main character suffers from White Night syndrome so badly it almost distracts from an otherwise good story.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      At this point I think I can say with some certainty that I've read just about everything Jim Butcher has ever written. Including his shopping lists.

      (ssssh. He thinks it's the raccoons getting into his trash.)

  • Catrina

    Erm… What would be the term for a female who has White Knight syndrome? The expectations are a little different from a female perspective, but after reading this I am still fairly convinced that I have this White Knight Syndrome.
    The only thing I have to add in is that I think you forgot to mention the crushing guilt and sense of worthlessness and shame the White Knight feels when he/she cannot save someone.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      I believe it's popularly referred to as Florence Nightengale syndrome, although White Knight applies just as well.

      • Michael

        Hi Catrina, wow what can I say. This article is so true. I am a White Knight, and to keep a long story short I must agree 100% with you when you say "The only thing I have to add in is that I think you forgot to mention the crushing guilt and sense of worthlessness and shame the White Knight feels when he/she cannot save someone." That is so true

  • George

    "…and all the whores and politicians will look up and scream "save us!" And I'll look down, and I'll whisper: "No. I'm cured of white knight syndrome."

  • Lee

    I need to send this to a friend who suffers from this. He thinks he's being a good guy & a gentleman by constantly "defending my honor" and "seeing how I'm doing" through a constant stream of texting. I've tried telling him that asking his friends to protect me when he's not there and treating me like a fragile flower is beyond the most insulting thing he could ever to. I know he really believes he's being a good person and a good friend but a girl wants a guy to protect her from a bullet, not a leaf in the wind. I like a guy who is a true gentleman, not a stalker. It's beyond a turn-off, it's a signal for a restraining order.

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  • Bios

    I'm not sure it's as black and white as all that. Some women _are_ emotionally damaged though, and i think there is some redemptive power to love. and the fact that the 'white knight' perhaps is also emotionally damaged means that the playing field is level essentially.

    The real problem, i believe, which you have identified, is not from the woman's side–as an emotionally damaged woman is far better off with a white knight than a thug or player or emotionally indifferent man–but from the man's. It is absolutely true that it leaves him open to emotionally abusive relationships. How do i know? Because in my teens and early 20's i also suffered from this 'syndrome'. Although i had decent looks and game and didn't find it all that hard to attract women, i noticed i tended to gravitate towards ones with problems. and no doubt this was fulfilling some deep rooted psychological need(I also tended to be friends with these kind of people too, so the W.K.S is merely an extension of this aspect of my personality).

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, i did end up with a woman that was incredibly abusive. She appreciated me at first, then started taking me for granted. I respected her space and did not smother her, but i had the feeling that she 'needed' me for emotional support and she believed this too, otherwise the relationship wouldn't have 'worked', at least in the short to medium term. And she became too reliant on me and began to dominate the relationship. It was a complete role reversal that occured in no time. I let her walk all over me because, quite pathetically, i figured that she was just 'venting', then it eventually got out of control. and she is the one that came to me btw.

    Anyway, to me white knight syndrome is more dangeorus to the man than the woman. I think it's a bit of an exaggeration to say it's insulting to women if they are emotionally damaged. and white knights tend to be attracted to those kind of women, not just any woman.

    • sunflower

      Actually no. The emotionally damaged man or woman is better off healing their wounds first so they can be a good partner in a healthy relationship. Love does not conquer all. I speak from experience.

  • Lucky

    Stumbled on this as i try to sort myself out. I'm old fashioned and care about the women i have dated. My ex-wife saw this as an opportrunity to use me, she saw it as a weakness. I realised at the end she was taking the proverbial and split.
    I still get drawn in by a womans sob story but am now so wise to it that i avoid dating. As soon as i hear from a woman of their past troubles then i am gone. White Knight to complete risk averseness….not the best eh!!
    I have just had to mentor a young woman at work and she is now leaving. I helped her through some bad times and at the end, she has helped me through some bad times. I am depressed at her leaving but her cycnicism at relationships has made me realise it isn't healthy. I hope to try dating again one day, just for the companionship. I will be happy to help her out within reason, else how can you experience love.

  • Michael

    This article is so true, so so true. I am a full blown White Knight, my last relationship I was in was four years ago, it lasted for two and it was a typical example of White Knight syndrome and how the girl turned manipulative and abusive and I just hoped things would get better and change but they never did; after extreme emotional torture I couldn't take it anymore and left. For four years I have never been the same and I have never been with a girl again, I am afraid to fall for any female, I am a strong man but that turned me into a sobbing mess for more than two years after the relationship ended; I blame myself for how she went haywire and out of control when I left her, getting drunk and using drugs and wasting herself away; I blame myself for messing with her heart in the first place, tried to rescue her but I did more damage in the end than good.

    I can't help it, when a "candidate" arrives on the scene it's like I become hypnotised and it makes me feel strong and purposeful, drugged. To chase her down and rescue her. I am currently in a situation where I'm trying not to lose myself again for this one girl I am currently falling for, she has many problems and I truly, truly want to see her happy; it breaks my heart to see her with the burden she carries. I can not explain how much pain it is causing me and how devided I am about the matter. What FilmKiller said I agree with: "If you find yourself helping a broken bird, the goal should be to help them fly away." This is such a problem that for a long time I have struggled with this internal battle to go join the French foreign Legion, or to become a rescue worker in war zones. This is not easy, it's not a choice to be like this; yet we can teach ourselves to change our mindsets, we can remind ourselves that good intentions don't always have good consequences. I just had to talk, to get that of my chest, it helps.. Bless all

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  • Im 17 and am realizing I have white knight syndrome. I have my passions like surfing, singing, and mixed martial arts. I’m always the type that’s wants to help people. I’ve looked into things to volunteer for but I haven’t found anything. I just need to look harder. Reading this made me feel bad because I do not want to put anyone in harm. I tend to care about people more then myself maybe. Idk I’m a really a confused guy who doesn’t quite know his sexuality. I do know I want to help people and I do not want to hurt my family and the girl I like. And reading this makes me feel like it was all my fault. I don’t understand all the way but I want to get better. Should I just focus on having fun with her? Why wouldn’t someone wanna save someone though? People please reply I’m kinda confused on the topic!

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  • Jacqueline

    I have just broken up with a White Knight. He has very few men friends and surrounds himself by helpless females. He finds his self worth boosted when he can 'help' a woman move, get over a relationship, needs a DD, needs to go shopping for a formal event, needs a ride to a train station, needs help getting into different circles of friends, needs an esteem boost.
    I met him earlier, when I was just starting to come out of my shell. I had talent, looks, but still exuded a few insecurities. But I work internally to figure out my own self worth. He started to ignore me and make excuses for not being around because someone (female) needed help with something. He created dependency and these women adore him–giving him what I couldn't. The hero worship he craved.
    He grew up with a mother who leaned on him when his father left and he saw her constantly pine for his father and fall apart whenever his father came back to town for a couple of weeks only to disappear again. He saw women as beings who needed financial assistance and as long as he could deliver that, he felt his role as protector male was fulfilled. He would swoop in, give advice, buy some things, and then expect the relationship to revolve around him.
    Women are beings who cannot exist without a man. We cannot function without the constant call for help! Oh big strong helpful man–please help me. I fear I cannot lift this box or hold me because my boyfriend broke up with me. How do I compete with that?
    Hurtful, because he ditched me for other women, and yet he looks like such a 'good guy'. But where is the mutual respect that I am craving?

  • EQF

    Sounds like Edward Cullen to me

  • So I grew up in a household where my parents were very well versed in this White Knight/Damsel in distress dynamic insofar as my mom was that emotionally vampiric victim and my dad got high off being a martyr. This was compounded by the fact that my mom was ACTUALLY physically handicapped. If I can offer any, any deterrent or inspiration that keeps people from being involved with this pattern of behavior is that it detracts from a harmonious home life once you have kids and negatively impacts their self-esteem and process of self-empowerment as well. To sum up: it was hell and has defined the failures in many of my relationships by proxy.

    This actually looks like an idea prevalent in counseling psychology called the "drama triangle"; look it up.

    I think the short of it is real women–the kind you want to be with– want a partner and friend, not a martyr, not a prince charming. And as woman, it sounds a hell of a lot more fun to be with somebody you can play with than somebody who assumes a caretaker role.
    Thank You for writing this!

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  • i am one of them, but to the entire humanity, not only women. maybe it's because i have already find my cause in the Army?

  • Glides

    Reading these articles are making the concept of human relationships sound more and more hopeless by the second.
    I know that's not the reason you wrote them, but this is making me wish I was asexual more and more by the second.

    • enail

      Don't worry, they're not so bad! Everyone's just people!

      I think these articles go into a lot of detail, which can feel intimidating, but it's really just "here's stuff that might be useful, apply as needed" rather than that you have to master everything he talks about before you can successfully date or even interact with another human being.

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  • David

    Oh jesus I so have White Knight Syndrome, it's tragic. but these articles are just too funny

  • Neaves

    I have White Knight Syndrome, and I’m trying to recover from it. My main problem is that when I start to feel good about myself my family makes me feel awful again. My mom is bipolar and depressive, but she takes her problem out on us. She’s going to therapy now, so I’d like some advice about how can I start to get better. Right now, I’m holding myself hostage until I’m safe to be around for girls xD

    • eselle28

      I'm sorry to hear you're having problems with your family. I can relate to some degree. I take it that you still live with your family? That makes it tougher to disengage, but there are ways you can pull back a bit until your mom is someone who's safe for you to interact with again. Sometimes it's possible to learn the other person's cues, so you can set some boundaries and refuse to do the little dance that leads to the awful conversations or choose to withdraw from the situation entirely by going to your room, getting involved in another activity, and the like. It doesn't make things perfect, but it can make them more bearable.

      Also, I don't know if it's in your family's budget, but would it be possible for you to get a little therapy as well? Living with someone who's depressed and bipolar and not managing either well can be hard in its own right, and having someone to talk to about your mother's behavior and how everyone else in the house ends up interacting with her mental health issues could be very helpful.

  • Lady Z

    Well…… I married my white knight! i am grateful that he exsisted, how else could an ugly girl like me have such a wonderful relationship? Sure there ain't much sex, but we are there for each other—- He never has to cook his own food or wash his own clothes…. In exchange for not being lonely, you have got to do what you got to do in this materialistic, superficial, shallow world– without my White Knight, I would be dead inside for sure……. Not everyone can have Hollywood fantasies you know!

  • scott

    I hate white knights with a passion! They are the generally feminazi scum like Obama and Biden, who pass anti-male laws, and ignore men's issues completely. This also includes bouncers in bars, who, if they see a man and woman in a fight, who beat up the guy in all cases, even if the girl is punching him..They ask if she is all right, and never him..Well, down with chivalry!! Stop caring about women's needs and issues, you white knight mangina assholes!!!!! I'm throwing a tantrum, because I hate your guts!!! Burn in hell!!!!

    • Dr_NerdLove

      You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.

      • I'm choosing to read the comment as a brilliant piece of performance art.

  • An interesting adjunct to this is the female equivalent. I would call them Florence Nightingales. I myself have been a white Knight when I was younger, and still have to watch out for potential care taking behaviour. I have also been on the receiving end of a caretaker. In fact, my last relationship was with a woman who believed that all women were essentially mothers (and therefore should mother everyone around her). I never did point out that women are mothers to their children, and shouldn't do it to their partners! But, there are lot's of men who want to be mothered and will seek out a woman who will be responsible for them, so they don't have to take responsibility for themselves.

    I think it's important to note that relationships involve two people choosing each other. For every White Knight, there is a girl who abdicates responsibility for herself, and hopes to be rescued, either consciously, or unconsciously. Takes two to tango, as they say.

    I try to remember that whenever I end up blaming or judging myself, or my partner, that people are usually attracted to someone with the same level of dysfunction, the same degree of 'crazy' as each other. Sobering thought.

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  • Queenly Woman

    Really great article, and helped me understand my last partner. I would say he is most definitely a damsel rescuer, he even was in the military, like a modern day knight. I am not needy, perahps you could call me a stately Queen instead of a damsel? So it means the only option was to grow and match me and celebrate eachother. But I see this was difficult for him because he struggled with his sense of self, wasn't sure what he wanted, depression, etc. And so with no solid sense of self, and no need to rescue me, no wonder it ended because he couldn't avoid working on himself, nor could distract himself by rescuing me because I didn't need it. With no self-worth, he looked for it in another damsel, and messiness incurred.

    I also see a lesson for me in this. My intuition told me about this next woman, as I met her while we were dating. I could smell her a mile away and see her dysfunction, and that something like this would unfold. But call it a higher power, or just simply connecting with my soul, my intuition also said that I was not to do anything, that he was meant to see this through to the end. I didn't know it was an intuition at the time, until things unfolded. He didn't cheat, but was a little too quick to start dating her after it ended. So that is my lesson, and actually the lesson that the White Knights don't get. When you try and rescue someone, you are violating a soul's journey to learn lessons for themselves. Protecting them, instead of allowing them to come to important conclusions or empower themselves, is inhibiting their growth and is actually a disservice to them because you are blocking important learning. It is a difficult lesson.

    Thanks again, this was a very thorough and thought-provoking article, while I'm doing my healing and releasing from the relationship 🙂

  • Vanessa

    coming from an abusive family, i inevitably attracted White Knights, i refuse to put up with them anymore. it took me almost 20 years to realize that the guys who were looking to save me were white knights, i dont want them, i dont need saving

  • missy

    I hate to say this but 80% of the relationships Ive had Ive been dumped by men who went for the more damaged ones that needed to be rescued, who made them feel needed. so wanting a man is better than needing one?? HUH?? Thats what I always thought.. such insight

  • ktmick

    The definition of this "affliction" is all over the place. I don't see anything wrong with wanting to help people. Now if you're being abused then that's another issue. But not everyone who enjoys helping those in need will allow this to happen. Also, not every person who wants to help someone is out to manipulate them. The person taken advantage of and the person who is a manipulator are two entirely different problems, and I don't understand why these are being lumped into the same category. Also being a fantasy lover I dislike this bastardization of the word "white knight" into a psychological disorder. I consider myself a "white knight" of sorts female. I like helping people and coming to their rescue, man or woman. I enjoy being a leader as well. I also respect men who like helping others. I think that this entire thing is lame and instead we should focus on the specific maladaptive behaviors. Wanting to help someone is not the problem. Letting yourself be manipulated, manipulating others, and seeing another gender as inferior, are. Let's focus on the problems and not discourage people who genuinely enjoy helping others out.

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  • doctorfishcraft

    Now I'm no expert and this is totally based on my own observation but has anyone else noticed that a lot of White Knighty guys came from families where their dads left and their moms subsequently made them the extra-special new Man of the House? Might just be my crowd but that's the case for literally all the ones I know.

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  • RandomLady

    I LOVE this article, yes a female loving this article lol, I have been single for 2 yrs now out of a nine year relationship, and dating i have met the guy coming in trying to dig up my past, stir up old emotions, then consistently trying to do EVERYTHING for me, and talking to me about what a REAL man does and is, and not to sell myself short, like I fealt he was literally trying to convince me i was disabled, so i spoke with him about his past relationship i like to know a guy has got his stuff together if hed just come out of a relationship and how long its been, well it was the ex was a drug abuser and totally destroyed him, that was not too surprising, and i decided no way he's ready to start anything in my view. Also that I'm not THAT girl, i do not need to be SAVED, I'm independent and want a well growing relationship not a co dependent one. I like a RESPECTABLE guy that is my number one thing, its just mutual respect.

  • Rob

    This is not a bad article and I agree w. most of it. However, I disagree with the premises White Knight Syndrome is related to being a nice guy. Ive seen hollow headed muscle boys act like White Knights. These guys are not nice. They are usually egotistical and act like they own everybody.
    White Knight Syndrome is related to pedestal worshiping. They see women as being up on a pedestal.

    • sunflower

      Tough to say. I can see my ex being a white knight. He pursued me at a time I was emotionally vulnerable, still reeling from a string of tragedies. He did everything he could to convince me I was weak and helpless and needed his "love." He used to say "you can't live without me." He convinced me to "pursue that career change I wanted" which meant quitting my job to go to school and of course him supporting me financially. As I got better and came to my senses, he got angry and controlling and abusive, then simply replaced me with another dependent female, this time a foreign girl from a poor country. Within months of me leaving, she was living in his house, totally dependent on him.

      On one hand, he could have been a white knight in that he wanted to rescue women from bad circumstances and when I no longer could or wanted to play the role of the weak and helpless female, he wasn't having it.

      The again he could have just been a misogynistic asshole who needs to dominate a women to feel better about himself.

      It's a fine line.

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  • The white knights are morons but they are 100% correct in saying that those battered women have no agency of their own to get out of their situation, as this is true in 100% of the cases I have witnessed. The woman always always always goes back to the abusive boyfriend/husband and any median guy only gets used, or stay in the situation they are in.

    To be fair this is not an issue that has anything to do with sex. Men who chronically are in shitty life conditions will not do what's needed to get out of it and will not follow the advice from people who know what to do to get out of such situations. It just isn't going to happen, it is the staple of the datum that says that someone cannot be helped unless they first realize they have a problem and want to be helped out of it. And further– wants to get out of it. Because if someone truly has had enough they will do whatever it takes to get the fuck out of the situation they are in.

    This is reason #2 to always have sex with the girl as soon as possible because then you can at least say you are getting something out of it. If she won't have sex with you, it usually means you don't fully have her, and if you don't fully have her, it is likely because she's still thinking about or even being with him behind your back.

    They say that "All you want is sex" No I don't want to get used. They say "We're not in a relationship you're super clingy because you appear angry about me being with him" Um, no. You're a moron for being with him, and you're jerking me around. That's why I'm opposing this. Not necessarily angry.

    Ladies reading this, stop thinking guys just want sex if they push for it fast, because if a guy doesn't push for sex fast he is being this here, a white knight, or a nice guy. He is DENYING his nature in hopes that he will win you over. So what if he does want just sex? You're not gonna have sex with a guy you don't want to have sex with but if you want it, do it.

    And actually most guys do want just sex at first. What reason have you given him to want anything more from you? He doesn't know you. Playing along with "let's get to know each other" is going to drive good men away because they will assume that you're playing them by withholding sex. Especially if your ex is still in the picture. You are going to eventually ALWAYS fuck a guy anyway without getting to know him and it will likely be the wrong guy when you've denied tons of other guys sex on the false assumption that that's all they want.

  • alllbetta

    i can't read all these comments, i just have to say that i am a "geek girl" AND a "predator of white knights." i also feel like i'm a "white knight" as well, but i felt that more strongly when reading only the beginning of this article, before getting to the bitch predator section. i'm so, so happy this article exists because, even though these problems are no where close to being solved.. (you know, how unlike science where a problem can be proven wrong, this one will forever remain pseudo).

    i'm happy not just because i've learned more shit in general, but because i really am better understanding myself as this so-called predator (i think the reason why this will always be so confusing is because everyone has their own way of classifying things, so to convert something which depends on individuality into something universal is probably impossible)..

    i retract my reason for why i'm so happy after reading this. it isn't because i've uncovered knowledge about being a white-knight predator, because truthfully i've already known all that, but reading this has allowed me to see my behavior in others' eyes, in particular the "white knight" i've been trying to pursue. just like they ought to check themselves, i really need to figure out how to change, because, setting my instability as innocently aside as i'm allowed to, i do not want to be this way. i don't want to do what i do, and i don't want these actions to affect others in such a way that sounds so horrible, even when they ARE asking for it. (to reciprocate to one of your comments i have to say it is VERY easy for us to spot and target white knights, as well.. remember white knights are just as strong/weak as we are). it is more difficult for me to put my bra on in the morning, though it (may not mean much) than it is to walk into a bar and immediately identify the white knight, hero loser woobie man-baby…, the next guy out there who's practically BEGGING for us to find them. yeah, baby, we can so play our game together, that's just how it works.. BUT, i couldn't help but also feel terror over all this doctornerdlove happiness…, because now i don't know what to do. to illustrate, and i think you called it out yourself, i'm finding it very difficult to believe i'm ever going to change. should i be this scared? to be honest i don't think i've ever witnessed a healthy romantic relationship in all my life. i just think it's great that we are uncovering more about each other, and even though it's universally and scientifically impossible for bonds to exist without any kind of conflict, i do actually have a shred of hope.. for all of us bastards… and that place called happiness and resolution.

  • This article just confirms what my friends and I have discussed at length and gives more insight to the affliction. We are a group of strong women, able to provide for ourselves and we want a man in our life, because we want him not need him to rescue us. White Knights and needy basic bitches ~smh~

  • To my dear friends who had to put up with my white knight syndrome during the days…thanks. Proud to say i live! i died! i live again!

  • my brother is a white knight and got involved with a woman who was mentally and physically messed up and he lost his soul….havent spoken to him in 12 years we were very close until he met her.

  • simpli_kreepi

    While I disagree with a lot of the reasonings behind this "White Knight Syndrome", I've had it for as long as I can remember and there are some very interesting and valid points…Also, as a girl I'd like to point out that it can go both ways.

  • Well done, Doc.

    This is eerily accurate and kind of hurtful. I am this dude – minus the relationships. The used part and kept in the "bullpen" in case they want to call me up rings true. This syndrome is all about me. It's how I see women, but more importantly, how I see myself as being valuable to women (and people in general?). Somewhere along the way I took up the idea that I am not desirable or readily desirable. I needed to develop something so I could be. Attractive women was always something I saw as above me or better than me. I think this progressed with not being a very good student and feeling out of place at college. I put all my effort into women/preying (and what I do DOES feel like preying) on women and finding one to save me (by helping her). This article hurt and is spot on. I read the curing section intently. I'm currently taking a break from dating AND working in order to discover myself. Break my cycle of really awful/pathetic relationships and weird work relationships. Find my own self worth and move from there. I don't know where it is but I AM valuable, AM talented and CAN stand on my own. Or, at least, that's what I will find out in the coming months … Thanks for this.


  • SomeMan

    This is an amazing text. I AM a "recovering White Knight"!! The strange "twist" with me is that I have LOTS of "experience with women" and I have lots of "success". I am "masculine" and I attract super hot women, I treat people with respect, etc… yet obviously, I have a "beta core" that needs to be killed!! I attract and can build attraction, etc. I am 43. Obviously, this syndrome takes on many forms, since I am NOT "the typical nice guy", and I am NOT also the bad mofo and I genuinely want my partners to grow and become prosperous and build their autonomy. But I still ave deep and complex problems. I am a "masculine good guy" with passions and a generally good life… BUT… i DO have self-worth issues!! The very few women I have mentioned this to can't believe it, since I SEEM to be a walking "success" on many aspects of life. I now understand that my syndrome has many inter-twining root causes, but the root-root cause is my parents: my father was (and still is) the all-provider / organizer / saviour and my mother is in total stay-at-home inertia and without any personal life or identity of her own. She has a weak "sense of self". She "loved her kids more than anything", especially me her "amazing son"… and this created a "program for relational patterns" that I have repeated many many times and it all become a mix of commitmentphobia and codependency. For those of you who have this syndrome, you know what I mean: you end up feeling a mix of "feeling trapped", "wanting out" (with intense anxiety), deep love, neediness… and unbelievable guilt and shame… and it all becomes totally paralyzing… break free, it's worth the effort! Thanks to Doc Love for such an insightful text – 10/10! All the best.

  • obsidianjaguar

    Also there is real danger to the girl too .. for example if your being a white knoght to save a girl from addiction issues , and your not qualified medicaly, psychologically or emotionally .. you are litteraly putting the girls life on the line by try to "save her"

  • hialu

    I was with a recovering White Knight. He wanted a "normal girl" for once and that was me. I did allow him to be my hero at times because that's important with almost every guy. It kept our relationship good.

    But once I started getting critical the relationship died. He couldn't get out fast enough. He told me he didn't love me anymore.

    He could take all kinds of crap and rejection from women as long as it never got real. He would break up and make up even when the women had another love interest or just dropped him out of the blue. This man would sit and wait and beg to prove himself. But criticism? No way. Especially if it's based on truth. That is the White Knight repellent in my experience.