“Don't save her. She don't wanna be saved.”
Rap legend Project Pat first said this infamous phrase close to 20 years ago. And despite repeating it several times when I was a child, this lesson apparently never sank in for me.
When J. Cole echoed the phrase on his song "No Role Models" in late 2014, I learned I still hadn't taken the lesson to heart.
When it comes to women, I have a tendency to want to “save her." It's called "white knight syndrome."
The phrase was made famous by psychologists Marilyn Krieger and Mary Lumia in their 2008 book by the same name. It's simply defined as having a destructive need to rescue others (usually from themselves).
There are a plethora of reasons supporting this phenomenon, most of them rooted in some form of insecurity.
I meet a girl. We get to know each other. I find out she is struggling with some sort of flaw (and a major flaw at that). I fall for her.
I try to help her heal and cope with whatever she's struggling with. Most of the time, she doesn't even know she possesses said flaw, so I'm pretty much spending all my time trying to simultaneously convince her of her flaw and fix it.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece about my damn near unconditional love for an ex-girlfriend of mine who was, for lack of a better term, crazy.
While there's a reason some guys like crazy women, I noticed a particular pattern in myself.
No, not all of my exes or love interests were crazy by any means. But they all had one thing in common: a (sometimes fatal) flaw that pulled me closer to them.
Some of us just have a natural urge to be a hero of sorts. For some strange reason, if you're like me, you seem to be completely drawn to emotional vulnerability. We tend to want to save women from themselves.
It's almost as if the bond is formed over the weaknesses we share. We strive to heal; we want to be the one to save you from yourself.
Whether she's insecure about herself, narcissistic, extremely financially irresponsible, spoiled, immature, eats unhealthy or even watches way too much "Basketball Wives," I tend to want to be the one to heal her and deliver her from all of the "hardship" of the so called "flaw."
There's an element of my own insecurity involved in this. There's comfort in knowing you're not the only one who is flawed, after all.
You can see someone else's flaws and love them for it, but still try to help them be better. Together, you can grow and become better people. We can save each other! (At least, that's what I think.)
Nah. That's not how ANY of this works, Shaun.
In every "white knight" situation I put myself into, I find out I'm not Jesus. Salvation isn't in my job description. It's ultimately up to the individual to save themself and become a better person.
Despite your own insecurities, there's also an element of pure humanity involved in white knight syndrome.
We tend to gravitate toward something we know is harmful in the name of love.
We go into these type of situations with the best of intentions because, well, we just care about people.
We want the best for the people we love, even if they don't seem to want to want it for themselves. We see the good in people that they just can't seen to see for themselves.
In the end, things hit the fan and you find your tires slashed and car windows busted. And it's all because to tried to rescue someone who didn't ask to be rescued.
You're left to pick up the pieces, and you end up being the broken one in need of rescuing.
It becomes taxing after a while. But most of the time, you just end up in a worse place than before by trying to take someone else's flaws and make them yours.
Loving someone is cool, but sometimes you just have to love them from afar.
People aren't meant to be fixed by others. If they weren't seeking to be fixed, don't come to their rescue.
It's a new twist of the classic phrase, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
When it comes to putting an end to your white knight syndrome, remember this: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You'll end up breaking yourself in the end.
Bottom line: Don't save her. She doesn't want to be saved.