She's Using You, Man

I struggled with the title of this one. Others considered were:

'This One is for the Heroes'
'White Knight Syndrome'
'Are You a Rescuer?'

I went with the
most edgy and click-batey one. Sorry. 


After coaching so many men, there are a handful of patterns that I have observed that come up frequently. This one in particular, is one I can relate to a lot – I can smell it from a mile away, having suffered quite a lot from my previous unconsciousness of it in my past relationships.

I’m currently witnessing this play out in a couple that I know, and am having to bite my tongue – hard – not to blurt out unsolicited advice that would almost definitely fall on deaf ears anyway. I’m ‘projecting’ a lot for sure, but I also feel quite strongly that the outcome for this couple are rather predictable.

So here’s what I want to say, but won’t. This is me ‘externalising’ the thoughts in my head, so I can get them out of there and onto paper (well, my laptop screen). I’m also going to use this as an opportunity to process my own negative experiences that witnessing this situation is bringing up in me. This is as much a letter to my former self as much as it is to him, written in a flow-state (words not 'chosen' but allowed to spill out as-is).

Mate… she’s using you.

Not consciously; she’s a good person. But her subconscious is using you to process experiences from the past that are fighting to be consciously processed (like I am experiencing as a result of witnessing your situation).

Do you feel good when you’re fighting her battles and slaying the various dragons in her life? Do you feel like a hero when you stand in the line-of-fire?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s better to be virtuous than the opposite.

But I remember that feeling. And it’s a dangerous one. One that starts off well, giving off various highs for the both of you, but it rarely ends well.

I remember ‘having words’ with several people that wronged my ex. It felt good at the time – I felt tough and manly.

Now, several years later, after that relationship exploded into a thousand pieces of shit, I feel kind of dirty… kind of used… when I think about it.

I don’t regret trying to do the right thing. And God knows, I failed her in other ways. But what I’ve come to realize is what I want to share with you.

She was using me.

Her trauma-story that laid dormant and unprocessed was literally engineering scenarios in which it could re-play itself in an attempt to get processed. Over and over. And what hurts is that this made me particularly un-special. If I was the only person in the world that was selected for this task, I’d at least feel a bit special! Ha!

But in hindsight – that cheeky bastard – I realised that I rescued her from her previous rescuer, who rescued her from her previous rescuer, who rescued her from her previous rescuer, who rescued her from her original rescuer; her mum. The pattern played out with friends and lovers alike (and has continued to since as far I know)… she gets recued, then when the relationship with that person breaks down (but usually only when there is someone else lined-up to be the new rescuer), the pattern repeats.

So, maybe I’m completely wrong, but when I look at your relationship, and I see you jumping in to defend your woman, getting in between her and her dragons, in the way you have been, I get an uncomfortable feeling in my belly.

I recognise parts of myself. Because here’s the truth about my past relationship…

I was using her too. And my unconscious stuff was using me.

My own trauma-story is one of having to rescue and defend. And so, as is so common in intimate relationships, our unconscious minds were made for each other.

In my case, and as with so many of the men I’ve worked with, the original damsel in distress from my story was my mum. Who I never actually got to save.

I don’t know too much about your family history… but as a kid, was your mum by any chance unhappy? Did she confide in you? Or, maybe, you wished she had?

Maybe I’m way off the mark… but I see the choice you’ve made in this current partnership, and wonder if her apparent vulnerability isn’t a central piece in your attraction to each other.

Do you make it your job to protect people or things?

Just… be careful. You may feel like ‘Dom the Don’ or ‘Dan the Man’ right now, but I’ve seen this story before. And without serious introspective self-work from both parties, it never ends well.