An important lesson I have learnt in 2013 is that abusers are often your knights in shiny amor.
I’m not joking. The person who jumps to your rescue without asking for anything in return (at first glance), making it out to be only their golden heart that makes them do it, often over-dramatize the “rescue” and hold you accountable to it even years later like they are now entitled to you for having done something good to you once.
They know, when you’re in a pinch, you won’t say no. They take advantage of your situation in the worst way possible.
Often that’s because these people need validation and they boost their ego and little self-esteem with your gratitude.
Almost no one would say to someone helping them with a difficult situation: “sucks to be you, now get out of my life”. And it’s going to turn into a ritual of “I HELPED YOU, BE THANKFUL” (abuser) and “OF COURSE I’M THANKFUL I’M NOT AN ASSHOLE!” (abused)
Very seldomly do people understand that gratitude is nothing physical, nothing you can grab and hold onto. People feel that way for you or they don’t. You shouldn’t coerce them into being thankful.
What I’ve also learnt is that most of your problems are solveable without someone jumping to your rescue and that friends don’t put your well-being before their own because they don’t define themself through what they do for you.
Sometimes it may even seem hard to see people as friends who don’t jump to your rescue when you’ve been through several of those friendships and relationships with abusers or grew up knowing nothing else, but friends don’t not jump to your rescue because they don’t like you. They don’t because they know you’re a human being with their own resources, autonomy and that you are strong. Friends will listen to you, and help you find a way in which you will deal with your problems, not solve them for you.
I’d add the caveat that sometimes people do need large amounts of help, and that sometimes friends can and should help one another in major ways, even over the long term. And when a friend helps another friend in a major way, it can look superficially similar to what a heroic abuser does. But it’s not the same.
One major difference is how people react to no. A helpful friend recognizes that you are a separate person, and that you might disagree with them about how to live your life.
An abuser in shining armor will be emotionally committed to a particular plan for saving you, and they will get angry/upset/punitive when things you do don’t match their rescue plan.
For instance: If you are homeless and unemployed, an abuser in shining armor might offer you a place to stay and then insist that you wear their style of makeup daily and grow your hair long in order to be more attractive to potential employers. Or try to enroll you in classes that have nothing to do with your work, and get angry when you don’t think that will help.
And they will often also get especially angry or explosive if you try to move out or stop depending on them as much.
It’s important to learn how to detect and avoid people like that.