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 friends. Their favorite phrase is, “Please, let me help.” More often than not, they will sacrifice their own happiness to make someone else’s dreams come true.
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 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 (as in, “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”), Sidekicks can’t bring themselves to do it because it would mean sacrificing their sense of themselves as endlessly giving. And more importantly, they run the risk of severing the 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.
If you fall into this pattern, you will notice that you have had a series of relationships where you gave all that you are and got nothing but suffering in return. Sidekicks 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.
Hum along to this Sidekick’s lament by Michael McLean.