A while back I had a few long conversations with friends about the White Knight Syndrome and the weirdly high expectations women have about getting guys. I saw it reflected in all kinds of books, where so much of the YA books especially, are so concentrated on the romantic relationships between the main character and whatever male love interests they are always chasing.
From what I’ve seen, it appears that there is a formula to all of this: Women feel as if they have to be in a state of despair before prince charming shows up. Prince charming “fixes” the problem by rescuing the woman (thus taking any need to save herself out of the equation) and then they live happily ever after. That’s why so many stories end when the couple finally gets together. However, there comes a time when the female character has “fixed” herself (read: saved herself and found some self esteem lying around) and then prince charming is suddenly shown for what he is: a two-dimensional love interest. His whole point was the fix the girl/rescue her, right?
That’s how it should go anyway, at least the way I see it. When a woman (or man) attracts a “rescuer” type when they are at their lowest point, you do have to wonder about the sort of person they would attract. Twilight, as always, the easiest punching bag, offers a great example. Bella Swan is “clumsy,” not too smart, not too dumb, average in every way we can see except that she seems to lack any sort of motivation or energy to determine her own future. She attracts someone who wants to fix her life for her, give her direction when she has none, and take away all of her issues for her. It’s no wonder they both have no personalities to speak of. In fact, I would even suggest that when Bella suddenly becomes a vampire, Edward’s role becomes obselete and he becomes some sort of sex-giving robot for Bella at night (summarizing a great deal here but that’s essentially what happens).
In real life, it looks like this:
1) Prince charming shows up, expecting to be needed, princess is in despair, they click because they feed what the other needs
2) Woman grows confident in relationship (because she has a man who validates her value), woman starts having her own life
3) Prince charming no longer feels needed, keeps trying to rescue someone who doesn’t need rescuing anymore
4) Couple clashes
5) Couple breaks up
6) Woman thinks that she must despair before prince charming shows up again
This is, of course, a generalization of a trend I see so obviously not meant to apply to every couple everywhere ever. It’s just…one of those trends that makes me cringe.
This trend also tends to exclude all kinds of other relationships that are not romantic, which you can read about here in this fantastic post about platonic love. You can also read a bit more about this from the man’s perspective and how having poor boundaries and low self esteem can lead to problems with both sexes (read everything by Dr. Nerdlove, he is made of awesome).