What Is “White-Knighting?” And Why It Won’t Get You A Date

Lately I have seen the phrase “white knighting” used more and more across the internet. You have have even come across it. So what does it mean?

White knighting refers to behavior of a certain type of guy. We all know what a “white knight” is in relation to fairy tales: it’s a reference to stories where a knight in shining armor comes and rescues a damsel in distress.

In modern dating and relationship slang, a “white knight” is a guy who:

– Treats a woman like a goddess because he is attracted to her.
– Tolerates bad behavior, bad attitudes, and jerk behavior from a woman, because she is a woman and/or he is attracted to her.
– Rushes to defend a woman no matter what, simply because she is a woman, even if she is in the wrong.
– Outwardly agrees with a woman even when he really disagrees.
– Spends a lot of time outraged about the “bad” guys his women friends date, and spends even more time counseling the women about these bad guys.
– Believes women really are “better” than guys.

Knight riding a horse

A friend of mine thinks he is the guardian of every woman on the planet. He is a level 10 white knight.

On Facebook he randomly calls out the supposedly bad behavior of men (never to their face of course): men are “pigs,” men aren’t interested in women’s brains, “how dare older men be attracted to women in their twenties?” He frequently apologizes for being a man. The funny thing is that not only is he perpetually single, but typically the women in his life find his white knighting to be pathetic, unattractive, and whiny.

The reason is that women probably know the truth about this guy and every other white knight: when a guy is a “white knight,” it has nothing to do with actually liking or caring about women. It is all about attraction to women.

Because a woman is pretty, he agrees with her, no matter what crazy or mean statement comes out of her mouth. Because she is cute, he tolerates behavior from her that he would never let his guy friends get away with. Because she is cute, he buys her things he can’t afford. Because she is petite, he unfairly puts down the entire male sex regularly when he is around her.

There are many obvious problems with “white knighting.” First, it is bad for both men and women. Treating a woman as if she can do no wrong simply because she is pretty (or just because she is a woman) is incredibly illogical and sexist.  No woman would ever treat another woman this way!

Second, this behavior assumes women are totally incapable of standing up for themselves or functioning in the real world without the help of a man. Feminists should be disgusted by white knights more than anybody.

Third, “white knighting” won’t get you a date. Women prefer guys that have a confident edge, and who actually stand up to women when necessary. Being a white knight is pretty much an instant ticket to being in “the friend zone.”

We have no problem with being friends with women, but if the entire point of your “nice” behavior to a woman is to get you a date, then you may want to at least try techniques that work. White knighting doesn’t work.

I believe men and women should be equally treated with respect and dignity. The opposite of white knight is not “misogynistic woman-hater.” The opposite of a white knight is a strong, confident, and assertive guy who isn’t going to let attraction get in the way of being his normal excellent, assertive, and confident self. And, there is nothing wrong with trying to stand up or doing nice things for women. Just make sure you are equally willing to stand up for and help out guys.

How can you know if you are  entering into white knight territory? Ask yourself, “would I be acting this way if I were dealing with a guy?” If the answer is “yes,” then you are probably okay. If the answer is “no,” then you may be putting on the armor and entering the role of “white knight.”

For example, let’s say your attractive female friend is complaining she lost her job for showing up late to work, and you know she is a horrible employee who broke all the rules from day one. She is telling you how “unfair” it is. If your guy friend was doing all this, you’d likely remind him he was a bad employee. If your instinct is to agree with your female friend, then, sorry to break the news, but you’re a white knight.

So guys, stop playing the white knight. Your “gallant,” “noble,” and sexist behavior isn’t going to cause your female friends to stop dating charming and confident guys, and suddenly run into your arms. Your behavior is probably more repulsive than attractive.

And that distressed damsel you keep trying to rescue? She’s at the movies right now…with your confident and funny roommate you tried to save her from.

About David Bennett

David Bennett is author of seven self-help books, and an in-demand speaker and consultant. Over a million readers per year read his online content, and his writings have been referenced in many publications and news outlets, including Girls Life, Fox News, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and BBC. He also writes for The Popular Teen, and other sites. Follow him on Twitter.

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