Rescuing the Damsel in Distress

Rescuing the Damsel in Distress by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist (FREE LDS online dating site)

In a previous article, I wrote about how some women tend to be attracted to and choose to be in a relationship with "the bad boy". Men also have a tendency to get involved with a troublesome type of relationship choice: the damsel in distress. A damsel in distress is basically any woman who is very troubled emotionally, practically, or otherwise, which is attractive to some men. This usually subconscious attraction centers around the idea that "I can save her", "I can help her", "I can rescue her", "I can be the hero", and so on. Embedded somewhere underneath those good intentions is often a fear and insecurity perhaps that a healthier, more stable woman would be more likely to reject him. Conversely, the choice of a damsel in distress can seem strangely secure and "more of a sure thing": if she is dependent on me and needs me, she won't even hurt, reject, or abandon me.

So, what is wrong with a man being attracted to, picking, dating, even marrying a damsel in distress? A lot. The short answer is, by definition, she is not really in a current position to be in a committed dating or married relationship, so the relationship will likely end and end badly. Why is she not ready? Because by definition, she is in trouble and distress. Perhaps emotionally or psychologically she has just ended a relationship that has traumatized her and she needs to heal first before dating and committing. Perhaps financially she is in over her head in debt or even bankruptcy and may need to sort that out before she dates and commits. Or perhaps she is dealing with other trauma or psychological and emotional issues that otherwise render her not currently ready and able to give herself to the needs, requirements, and demands of a full blown committed relationship.

Whatever the problems are, she is by definition "in distress", making this a bad time to be trying to date her. If you feel like trying to help such women in certain ways out of the goodness of your heart, that is fine to a degree. I just don't recommend dating or marrying them. It will most likely fail because she is not currently equipped for the needs of a relationship.

The Healthy Alternative

So, what is the healthy alternative to a damsel in distress? A healthier woman who is basically ready, able, and willing to be involved in a committed relationship both emotionally and practically. A woman who can handle the stresses, challenges, and rigors of life. A woman who can cope with disappointment, hardship, frustration, and other times when she doesn't get her way. A woman who is emotionally available, open, and willing to give herself completely to a man--but only the right man. A woman able to demonstrate patience, resilience, and self sufficiency. A woman who is OK on her own, but sees value in a positive relationship with a man. A woman who rejects and refuses mistreatment, and requires respectful treatment from all.

Everyone, male and female, has their problems. I understand that. That is why I'm offering these ideas in a general, basic sense. Does the woman have these basic developments in her life? And does she expect these same basic developments in you? If yes and yes, you probably have a decently healthy woman there that in my opinion, you should give an opportunity to for a relationship. Otherwise, it is far better to be alone for months or years than to settle with being with an unhealthy woman and relationship. Although it can be hard to remain patient, greater unhappiness usually resides in unhealthy relationships than when we are alone. Breakups and divorces are usually devastating--both emotionally and practically.

Final Thoughts

If you can only seem to find and be attracted to damsels in distress, you may need to take a break from dating and focus for a while on working on yourself, your self esteem, and your confidence and security in relationships. Perhaps working with your bishop, going to a licensed psychotherapist, utilizing quality self help materials, and other efforts can help you prepare. So when you can finally identify and be attracted to healthier women, you will know you are ready to pick better and date again. You can find and date a good, healthy woman. That is the way it was meant to be. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Dr. G
**To readers: to submit a question to Dr. G for a future Q and A column, please send your questions to Also, please register for a free account at for access to previous and future Dr. G articles.

2016-12-08 Randy Gilchrist Understanding men, Understanding women, Dating, Healthy relationships

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to