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Rescue me!

Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 in dating, Happiness, Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

Mia, Sara and I had gone to an author reading, one of those authors — you know the kind, the passionate, sensitive ones who write about how their dysfunctional family past made them seek ways to live in the moment, find compassion and forgiveness, and give their time and energy to help others.

It didn’t hurt that he was drop-dead gorgeous.

As we sat there, listening to his stories, his vibrant blue eyes sparkling as they flashed up to make eye contact with the audience, his dimples dancing, his voice faltering as he recalled his a soul-searching journey, the hardships he’d experienced and seen in the world, we were overcome. I felt my eyes well up, and as I reached up to wipe away a tear I saw Sara do the same, too.

“Wow,” that was something, Mia said as we sat at a nearby bar after.

“Very inspirational,” Sara said.

“I could soooo go for a guy like that,”
Mia said.      

“Me, too,” Sara agreed. “Couldn’t you, Kat?”

“He’s gorgeous and obviously has
a huge heart. But, man, he’s one damaged soul. I mean, the guy admitted that he can’t get close to people. I’ve been the woman in that kind of relationship — it didn’t feel
too good.”

“Hmm, you may be right about that,” Sara said. “It seemed like he was laying on that dysfunctional childhood thing a little heavy.”

“But, he got better!” Mia said.

Maybe. Still, I have to wonder why
so many gals are attracted to damaged souls. Because, if it
were a woman at the podium talking about her family’s divorce and death and abandonment and how that made her fear intimacy, how many men in the audience do you think would be saying, “Hmm, wow, what a great catch!  I am soooo attracted to that”?

You get the picture.

Not too many — maybe a handful who suffer from knight-in-shining-armor syndrome or something. And then when one or the other gets exhausted and walks away from the relationship, those women end up being the “psycho” exes so many guys seem to have.

I’ve been sucked into falling for the damaged, vulnerable types. I’ve dated men whose past would make anyone pause, but I saw enough good stuff in them to hang on — especially because I believe we’re all sort of damaged souls to one degree or another. Then, in moments of strength and reality-checking, I’ve ditched men to whom I was attracted for various reasons but recognized that here was a man who needed to work through a lot of things — on his own, if he wanted to — before I’d get any closer.

But, let’s face it — people who have trouble pasts have a vulnerability that appeals to the nurturer in all of us.

I’m all for being compassionate about people’s past hurts, but you have to have an awareness of it and not use it as a crutch of why things are messed up for you today. Unless, of course, you can become famous for it …

  • Why do some people gravitate toward damaged souls?
  • Does it make us feel good to “save” someone?
  • Do we think someone’s more likely to stay with us if we do, like the faithful pound pup (who would probably still drop us in a New York second if someone else started showering love and treats)?
  • Are some people drawn to drama because it’s more exciting (and maybe easier) than a “normal” relationship?
  • Is it true that damaged women are easier to get into bed?

Photo © Petr Ivanov –

Bring on the comments

  1. Steve says:

    Why do some people gravitate toward damaged souls?

    I think the “bad boy” thing women have has a *partial* basis in human biology. The “bad boy” during evolution was a male from group/pack/tribe……genetic diversity….a good thing for healthier children.

    I just finished a book a few weeks which I think you will enjoy Kat. It is about explaining modern sexuality in terms of our evolutionary biology. It is a very provocative book that kicks many sacred cows:

    Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

  2. brian says:

    if she is hot a man will definately go for her damage and all
    and if the sex is good (recall the urban legend/truth how psycho women are great in bed) it will enable him to rationalize that the reason she is the way she is is due to the other men in her past back to and including daddy
    of course he isnt like all those previous men so problem solved right?
    been through that once
    thought she might even be the one to settle down with
    fortunately dodged that bullet with a few scars to remind me
    or maybe there is a God and he was looking out for me?
    as far as i know 15 plus years later she is still divorced living alone somewhere in OC the kid grown and out of college

    see in the end people choose whom to involve themselves with

    you can’t save them
    in many cases they really need professional help

    or as another far more better adusted former lady friend said to me once “You own your own sh#t.”

  3. Brian says:

    I have found this to be true, but from the other side of the coin. I’m a straight up guy, who, to paraphrase the above, “owns his own stuff”. I’m the custodial parent of my 17 year old son, and have been since he was 4. I’ve been the responsible one, as a boyfrend, husband, provider and a father. I can’t be it all, but I try my best. Yet, incredibly, I see so many women gravitate towards losers, that it’s not funny. Your statement above, Kat, that you’ve dated guys with rough edges, but you thought that you saw some good in them, only reinforces my belief that most women look for guys that they think they can change. Self assured men, yet who are willing to own up to their fundamental flaws, who are still solid human beings- we don’t even cross your (and your fellow traveler sisters) radar. Fortunately, there are a few women out there who know who they are, and realistically won’t settle for less than they deserve.

    That kind of segues into a friend of mine’s theory of attraction- that a big component of attraction is that people are attracted to their mutual dysfunctions, and not by the conventions that we hold oh so dear. But, that’s another topic for another time.

  4. Janet says:

    A friend of mine once observed that if you listen to enough family stories from a friend, “Everyone’s life has some soap opera in it.” I’ve found that to be true in relationships too. It’s just that some people like to be in ongoing soaps where others tire of it and seek more balanced connections.

  5. Kat Wilder says:

    Why do women love men who project #rescueme?

  6. payaxo says:

    RT @KatWilder: Why do women love men who project #rescueme?

  7. VJ says:

    Q: Why do some people gravitate toward damaged souls?

    Because their masochistic loser loving idiots!

    Q: Is it true that damaged women are easier to get into bed?

    Yes, but it’s seldom worth the bother or effort.

    This has been the shorter version. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  8. Kat Wilder says:

    You're not a #hero if you #hookup with someone to #save her, and she'll still end up as your #psycho ex.

  9. Kat Wilder says:

    Thanks, Steve. I tend to veer toward the evolutionary biology explanation of things. But I wouldn’t put “bad boys” and “damaged souls” as one and the same.

    brian — how true! Hotness supersedes a lot of other stuff.

    Brian — I didn’t date men with rough edges in hopes of changing them — I just liked their edginess. There was an excitement and energy to them (and, yes, good stuff, too; we’re not all one-dimensional!). Of course, when you’re with that for a while, you realize the dark side.

    As for Self assured men, yet who are willing to own up to their fundamental flaws, who are still solid human beings … uh, we gals certainly do want that. Are there many of them out there?

  10. Mike says:

    I know for me. If I save that person they will love me and never leave or hurt me. That’s the message in the back of my head. I don’t listen to that voice anymore.

  11. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    Harper’s recently had an article about how Freudian psychology and drudging up all the shit from your past is taking a major back seat to Postive Thinking.