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Mini Man-sode 23: Main Character Syndrome


JJ Tomlin

Join JJ as he dives into the first red flag of the season, main character syndrome and how that can surface in dating. 


Hey fammm! We’re finally into season 11 with RED FLAGS and you know what that means?! We’re back with some mini mansodes!!! Today, JJ is jumping right in with main character energy/syndrome. 

Main Character Syndrome / MeMonster

Let’s start by identifying what main character energy or main character syndrome is! Basically, it’s a funny Gen Z way to talk about narcissistic tendencies. And we KNOW, narcissism is the hottest and most overused word today. The unfortunate thing about that, is that it loses its weight when someone is a true narcissist. 

What this looks like for JJ is that it really is behavior that is completely self centered. This main character syndrome can surface in BOTH genders. However, the stereotypical way we would see this is a 24 year old woman who is recording and romanticising everything in their life. She is the main character in her world, all the lights are focused on you, camera’s are turned in, this person is the central character, the protagonist, and star of their own lives. 

Some Quick Examples

  • Taylor Swift’s song, “It’s me, I’m the problem, It’s me”
  • TikTok videos of kids who stop in the middle of traffic at a stoplight or cross walk and rip out a 30 second dance. 
  • Gym Influencers who get upset with people for walking in front of their camera. 

There are moments of this main character energy that people use to romanticize moments of their life, love stories, career, etc. and we’re actually HERE for that! It’s COOL to celebrate the mundane moments in life. There is a very quick way that this progresses PAST this to it being a total hallpass to live a very self-centered lifestyle and behave however you want. 

Initially, main character energy/syndrome might be super CHARISMATIC, charming, and even GIVING! This can be attractive especially for other people who are more comfortable taking a backseat. At first, that can be really enticing to be around these people, however over TIME it seems to lose it’s attractiveness or givingness. 

Here is where it surfaces most in dating…

The first thing is that this main character energy that may be attractive, fun, hilarious, at FIRST, over TIME you realize that EVERYTHING CATERS TO THEM. This can be really hard in traditional gender roles in dating where men are built to purse. Men love it, however men do notice over time when things are not being reciprocated or even just simply appreciated. The number ONE killer of a man’s ignition or pursuite of a woman is ENTITLEMENT. The attitude and chacter trait of entitlement is genuinely a massive red flag.

It’s one thing to have a really awesome, high standard and expectation of your person and you can have this and be WARM and KIND. The main difference between having a standard and being entitle is HOW THEY RESPOND. Someone who is kind, aware and has a high standard can KINDLY and LOVINGLY let you know their standard. This gives the other person an opportunity to deliver, and if that person doesn’t deliver, that’s OKAY, that’s just not what that person was looking for. Entitlement is a DEMAND not a REQUEST. More importantly, when they don’t get their need or wish they are highly sensitive, reactive, and volatile. It truly is their way or it’s over.

The best way to evaluate someone’s character is to see how they RESPOND when they don’t get their way.

The second thing that surfaces is that they TAKE AND TAKE AND TAKE. Men love to give and pursue, and that’s AMAZING! But, when there is a pattern, not just in your dating relationship but everywhere in their life (spirtually, emotionally, in family, career, friendships) where they’re taking and taking and taking this is something to pay attention to. Look at their actions, even when they give, is it to take? Is it so they feel good about themselves and to get something back? A lot of times it’s not a gift given with no strings attached, it’s a gift given EXPECTING something in return. A great way to test this is to look at how they interact with people who have nothing to give them.

The third thing that surfaces in dating relationships is that they relate EVERYTHING back to themselves. Every single conversation, close friends, family, every topic, skincare, football, travel, God, dessert, EVERYTHING! They always find a way to relate it back to their experience. They are fixated on when the other person is going to stop talking so they can talk about themselves and have their turn.

SPOILER, this is actually not just a red flag for JJ, this is a DEAL BREAKER because the world revolves around them and their experiences alone. More importantly though, it is the lack of CURIOSITY about others, their experiences, their life, their likes and dislikes. Now, of course there is a huge level of this where we relate to people who have things in common BUT when the relate to somebody or something is EXCLUSIVELY defined by their experience, and there is no room for the other person’s experience, that’s trouble!

JJ’s verdict on main character energy/syndrome is that there is a very clear line between a FUN main character energy, side personality where you’re just enjoying life and having fun and then it growing into a syndrome (see the previous three things that can come up). You can love them as a friend and talk about them as much as they want to a DEGREE. More importantly though, JJ loves to do two things with these people!

First, he loves to show them what curiosity looks like. As much as possible try to keep the conversation on someone else and show them what it looks like to be genuinely curious about another person and their experiences.
Second, he personally stops rewarding conversations that go back to them exclusively.

Main character syndrome truly just exemplifies a lack of empathy. There’s no ability or space for anyone else’s experiences or curiosity. Without empathy or an ability to understand other people they have a need to hijack every moment and opporuntiy to redirect the focus back to themselves.

Simply said, we have to have room or capacity for another main character in our story. Which actually, as believers of Jesus, we aren’t the main character, we are on the sidelines permanently as we push the conversations back to Jesus.

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JJ Tomlin

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JJ Tomlin is a missionary kid born in Belgium, originally from Tennessee, and currently residing in the OC. He currently works in Gaming/E-Commerce, enjoys watching his Tennessee Titans on Sundays with his Goldendoodle Teddy and loves working with Christian men to raise the bar in singleness and dating.

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