Getting Ready for Valentine’s Day with the Wicked Truth About Love: Part 5, Sidekick

Sidekick, illustration by Susan Drawbaugh

Sidekick, illustration by Susan Drawbaugh

In my book, “The Wicked Truth About Love: The Tangles of Desire”, I identified 5 obstacles or “tangles” that trip us in our love relationships. In previous blogs, I’ve given an overview of the Best Friend Forever, Celebrity Chef, Super Hero and Rock Star tangles. Today’s article is about the last tangle in my book. On Friday, the day before Valentine’s Day, I’ll explore what it looks like to get untangled and back on track to healthy, happy relationships of love.


Did you ever hear the expression, “Love hurts”? It sure makes sense when someone you love lets you down or breaks your heart. Then there’s this one:  “We only hurt the ones we love”. At least we can only be hurt by someone we love, because if we don’t care what other people say or do or think about us, how can they hurt us?

Somehow Sidekicks have made a tragic mistake about this relationship between love and being in pain. They think they are the same thing. For Sidekicks, the sure sign of being in love is that they have to work really hard at it. They think their lover should make lots of demands or be extraordinarily needy and consume all their time, energy and emotion. If their lover exhausts them, Sidekicks are sure they’ve found the real thing.

Sidekicks have enormous hearts and are incredibly intuitive about what other people need. They live to serve and get real joy out of helping those around them be successful. They don’t need the spotlight, but celebrate when the spotlight shines on their family or friends. Their favorite phrase is, “Please, let me help.”  Here’s the essence of the Sidekick tangle: Sidekicks need to be needed more than they need to be loved. Being needed and making sacrifices may cause them suffering, but the suffering lets Sidekicks know that they have done something extraordinary for someone else and that makes them feel necessary, as if that other person couldn’t get on without them.

There is a certain kind of suffering that Sidekicks cannot endure, however. It’s the suffering that comes from “tough love”. If the sacrifice that is required to help someone is to say no to them in some way (like “No, you can’t have another drink and the keys to the car” or “No, you can’t use my head as a punching bag even though it makes you feel better”), they can’t bring themselves to do it. Because then they are sacrificing their sense of themselves as endlessly giving. And more importantly, they run the risk of severing that dependency that is so essential to them, the sense that they are needed by someone else. In its worst manifestations, the Sidekick is the enabler to an addicted person. If you say no to someone, they might just say “To heck with you, then. I don’t need you anymore” and that’s the Sidekick’s worst nightmare.

For Sidekicks, love really does hurt all the time. These sweet people have to be very careful that they do not fall into abusive relationships. If you fall into the Sidekick pattern, your path to true love will open up when you learn to recognize the difference between self-sacrifice in a healthy relationship and suffering that is unnecessary and unjust. Choose lovers who will not only accept your sacrifices with a spirit of gratitude, but will offer their own sacrifices in return.

Take The Wicked Truth About Love quiz to find out if you fall into the Sidekick, Rock, Star, Super Hero, Celebrity Chef, Best Friend Forever or one of the other patterns. Whatever is getting you tangled up on the way to love, learning about the triangular nature of desire is sure to help you back on your feet again – romantically speaking!

The Wicked Truth About Love: The Tangles of Desire contains a full discussion of the triangular nature of desire and all the tangles, including advice on how to get untangled and back on the path to love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

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