A Scathing Indictment of White Knight Syndrome


“Unfortunately this article nails it for me,” 

a male reader whose life has been  
governed by WKS wrote to me. 

Men all have an instinct to protect 
and nurture a woman. But
at what point does it cross the line 
and become unhealthy? 

(Abridged by henrymakow.com)

The white knight.

In fairytales, he is the brave, noble, chivalrous man who comes to the rescue of the fair, helpless damsel in distress, asking nothing in return for his good deeds. In the real world, well, things are a bit more complicated.

Many men have adopted the behavior of the white knight from legends in the way they relate to women. Problem is this behavior often comes from a very dark place, and proves itself fatal for the man possessing it…


The White Knight Syndrome represents a strong inclination to seek women who are or appear to be in need of help (usually the more help the merrier), and on his own initiative provide that help (often no matter the sacrifice), without requesting anything in return.

Such a man is called a white knight. Not to be confused with the Dark Knight, who is a genuine badass.

With this penchant towards saving women comes a whole set of perceptions (many of them unconscious) that model the white knight’s emotions and behavior. Your archetypal white knight:

   -Sees women as powerless and unable to defend or take care of themselves.
   -Sees women’s problems as the result of misfortune or the cruelty of this world, never as their own fault. Women are never responsible for their troubles.
    -Considers it is men’s responsibility to help women solve their problems and sees doing so as a sign of nobility.
    -Thinks a woman will forever be grateful to a man who helps her. She will praise him, love him and give herself to him.
    -Sees men in black and white: they are either good or bad, there is no middle ground, and the decisive factor is how they treat women.

There are many clich├ęs and stereotypes in the way a white knight perceives men and women, and this perception is indeed much more descriptive of folktales than of actual reality.

The White Knight Syndrome essentially stems from two erroneous beliefs that all white knights have in common. Deep down, they believe that 1) it is imperative for them to be liked by all women and 2) they are not good enough to be liked by women as they are.

Thus, the White Knight Syndrome ensues, as sort of a coping mechanism.

The white knight craves female approval, attention and companionship, as well as sex, a romantic relationship and perhaps marriage. But he doesn’t believe that he can obtain these things by just being himself, because he thinks he’s not good enough.


He believes he has to do something special to cope with this predicament. And the something special he discovered is trying to save women from their troubles. It’s no wonder he is drawn to women who need saving like a fly to honey.

At some level he thinks that if he can find women who are weak and in dire need of help, and he will swiftly jump in to provide that help, he will get these women to like him and give him all that he craves from them. Without him openly asking for any of it…

Unfortunately, to the white knight’s utter surprise, instead of providing him what he wants from women, his behavior mostly generates steep negative consequences.


The biggest problem with being a white knight is that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t grant a guy the appreciation, attention, companionship, sex or relationships with women that he seeks to obtain. And this happens for several reasons.

One reason is that women oftentimes don’t really need or want any help. They are capable of handling whatever challenges they encounter on their own, and keen to do it. This is true today more than ever, considering many women actually have better education, better jobs, more resilience and more social intelligence than many guys out there.

So when the white knight tries to come to the rescue, his help is rejected instead of being eagerly embraced. This frequently leaves the white knight confused, but then he’ll usually figure the lady is just trying to be polite by declining his help, se he tries even harder to offer it, to the point where he becomes annoying.

Another reason is that few women are fooled by the white knight’s apparent zeal to help them without any ulterior motive. They’re smart enough to know he has a hidden agenda. And realizing this, they perceive the white knight as needy and insecure rather than noble and chivalrous, which aren’t exactly attractive male traits. And they don’t succumb to his agenda either.

Some women do embrace the white knight’s aid entirely, appreciate it and also need a lot of it. They’re the type with a knack for constantly getting themselves into trouble and having difficulties getting out of it. They do resemble the damsel in distress from fairytales, minus the innocence.

But even that’s bad news. The trouble is that by coming to such a woman’s rescue all the time, the white knight forms a toxic, codependent relationship with her. It’s a relationship in which she never learns to solve her own problems and she is constantly in need of him to solve them for her, while he cannot stop rescuing her because that’s the only way he knows to keep her appreciation.

In addition, even a woman who wants and appreciates a man’s help won’t necessarily appreciate him for eagerly offering it all the time. Sure, she likes the gesture, she likes being helped, but not necessarily the guy who performs it. Because to her as well, it shows that he’s needy and desperate for her approval. So she probably won’t respect him or sleep with him, but she will accept his help.

And supposing a woman really believes the white knight helps her out of pure chivalry, do you think she’s gonna offer him something in return? Not likely. She feels no obligation towards him, since after all, doing a good deed seems sufficient reward for him.

That’s why so many men end up empty handed when trying to be white knights…


Fortunately, there is a solution for the white knight.

The solution begins with recognizing the dysfunctional patterns in his behavior and admitting to himself that his behavior is not working.
Then, the white knight needs to enrol in and commit to a personal transformation process… This process entails:

    *Seeing his strengths and improving his self-image.
     *Learning to stop idealizing women and stop seeking their approval.
    *Developing true attractive male traits such as confidence, assertiveness, ambition, social skills, sense of humor, authenticity, integrity, leadership, etc.
    *Learning to set personal boundaries, to ask for what he wants, and to say no.
     *Taking care of his needs and getting personal interests other than women.
    *Finding healthy male models to emulate and hang out with.
     *Building a rich social life for himself, which includes both men and women.

It’s a process. It takes time, it requires perseverance and effective guidance, but it is well worth it. Overcoming the White Knight Syndrome means much more than becoming less accommodating and available towards women.

It means a personal transformation on the inside and outside, which will revolutionize the way you interact with women, your results with women, the way you feel about women, the way you feel about yourself, and eventually your entire life as a man.
First Comment from P:

I used to have this syndrome.
It definitely perpetuates co-dependance.
It will constantly bring the man to falling short of his expectations.
The solution is that he gets his fulfillment solely from God, and if there is to be a woman in his life, is secondary. She will appreciate this.
It is fuelled by good works=positive response, ad nauseum.

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