White Knight Syndrome

What is White Knight Syndrome?

White knight syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where mostly men, but also women enter relationships with a distressed or vulnerable partner, hoping that they can transform the partner’s life and become the hero.

For example, a white knight might get involved with a partners suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse, in hoping to change them (see neonatal abstinence syndrome to read about dangers of alcoholism).

Persons affected by this condition can be of any age, race, gender or culture, but they are united by the need to rescue. White knight syndrome is not limited to only romantic relationships. It can also be seen in business relationships and friendships [1].

Who are white knights?

The white knights are usually men, who are attracted to women they feel are endangered. These women have emotional issues, like history of abuse (see battered woman syndrome), trauma or addiction. These men believed that they only have the purest intentions in mind and they can save these women from their problems.

People with this syndrome usually have limited or no sexual experiences and they have had only few romantic relationships. Most likely they have not experienced a serious relationship.

They have limited skills in attracting women and they compensate it by acting in an overly romanticized way, emphasizing respect and defense towards their partner.

Affected persons have low self-worth and “saving” the partner makes this person feel like they have something to offer. The motivation of White Knight usually comes with hope that the “saved” partner will be grateful and reward them with love [2].

White Knight Syndrome 1

Common problems

Although it might seem like a truly romantic idea, white knight syndrome rarely works out in any relationship. Most likely, both people in this relationship will end up suffering.

One of the biggest problems in these relationships is that the intentions of white knight are left unanswered. Most common reason for it is that the person of interest does not want to be rescued.

Many women are capable of taking care of themselves and most likely will have a better social and economic situation than the white knight. When he gets rejected, white knight will feel confused, but then starts to rationalize rejection as the lady being polite, and trying even harder to offer help.

Some women get fooled by the chivalry of white knight, but soon realize that this person as an ulterior motive. After realizing their agenda, these women start to see white knight’s needy and insecure nature. Read about Munchausen syndrome.

In some cases, the woman is willing to accept white knights giving nature and need help from them. But after a while this relationship becomes co-dependent and toxic. The woman will not learn to solve her problems and the man will keep on helping her, because he knows no other way to show his affection.

Lastly, there are also women who will like to receive nice gestures and help from the white knight, but it does not mean that she will be romantically interested in this guy. This woman might use the white knight for her needs, but most likely will never enter an intimate or romantic relationship with him. She also sees him as needy and less of a man [3,4].

white Knight syndrome2 (1)


One of first steps of getting over the white knight syndrome is to begin recognizing the dysfunctional behavior and admitting that this type of behavior does not work for relationships. The white knight needs to start a transformational process, which includes several steps. These are:

  • Improving self-image
  • Finding personal strengths
  • Learning to stop idealizing women
  • Stopping to seek for approval
  • Developing attractive male traits, like confidence, ambition and integrity
  • Working on social skills and sense of humor
  • Taking care of personal needs
  • Finding healthy male models to relate to
  • Building a socially rich life, including friendships with men and women.

Curing white knight syndrome usually takes a lot of time and self-awareness. It is a process of self-transformation which can significantly improve person’s romantic and everyday life [5]. Read also about Grunting baby syndrome.

If you found this article helpful, share it on social media. If you would like to share your personal experience, use the comments section below.


  1. What is White knight syndrome: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-white-knight-syndrome/200905/rescuing-yourself-your-need-rescue-others
  2. Personality type: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/01/white-knight-syndrome/all/1/
  3. Issues for white knight: http://iameduard.com/whiteknight/
  4. Types: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/White_Knight_Syndrome_Subtypes.html
  5. Treatment: https://www.henrymakow.com/2015/10/white-knight-syndrome.html#sthash.krMvW0ju.dpuf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *