Unless you just came out of a coma, you know that the late Anna Nicole Smith’s ex-boyfriend is Larry Birkhead. He has been in the news since he announced he was the father of Dannielynn. One interviewer asked him why he continued to stay in the relationship despite Anna Nicole’s drug use. He said he thought he could “save her”. He had “knight in shining armor syndrome”.
In her book, “Why We Love” author Helen Fisher states that: millions of years of protecting and providing for women has bred into the male brain this tendency to choose women they feel they need to save. What separates man from animal is his ability to think and reason. Just because it may be natural for men to be chivalrous, it doesn’t mean they can’t place a limit on just how far they will go.
Should they open a door, pull out a chair, take a woman’s hand when crossing the street or give her their jacket if she’s cold? Absolutely. Should they try to save a woman whose life is a mess? They do so at their own peril.
Men try to save damsels in distress because it makes them feel powerful, in control and manly. Sometimes they are afraid of women and think they won’t be rejected if they fix a woman’s problems. They hide their inadequacies behind what looks like strength. They know they don’t have their act together, so instead of working on themselves they’d rather work on someone else. Such relationships are doomed to fail.
If these men really were strong, they would not be trying to save someone that appears to be a victim. They don’t realize that aside from a few circumstances beyond one’s control (acts of God, accidents, disease, etc.) one’s position in life is based on who they are on the inside, not someone or something “out there”. There is an axiom that says: There are no victims, only volunteers.
Knights believe that if the woman gets better, she’ll become the perfect girlfriend. The only problem is that if she does become healthy, she will not want to be with someone who is so flawed that he tolerated being with a “broken-winged bird”. Healthy people do not want to be with unhealthy people.
On the other hand, if she doesn’t get better, the man will never have the perfect girlfriend because he won’t get his needs met. In addition, his fears of an intimate relationship will not be repaired by staying with an inadequate woman. It’s a no-win situation.
Why else do men choose damsels in distress? According to Dr. Laura in her book, “Ten Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives” other reasons for “stupid chivalry” are: guilt for past transgressions and lifestyles, feelings of real or imagined inadequacies, fear of the pain of abandonment, loneliness, ego aggrandizement, fears about women’s (aka Mom’s) approval and acceptance and a fragmented sense of masculinity. If you’re currently trying to be a knight in shining armor, what’s your reason?
Just because a man doesn’t acknowledge that a woman is responsible for her circumstances, it doesn’t mean those same circumstances won’t come back to bite him in the butt at some future date. Larry Birkhead’s life is now chaotic as the result of trying to save a woman whose life was chaotic. Would you want to be in his shoes?