“I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”
Bonnie Tyler might have been holding out for a hero, but what she probably didn’t realize was that just as much as she needed a hero, a hero needed her too.
That’s because a new psychological theory says that the secret to long-lasting successful relationships is tapping into a man’s fundamental biological drive. An innate drive to be your hero.
So what is the hero instinct? And how can you trigger a man’s hero instinct?
In this article, I’d like to share hero instinct examples that I have used in my own love life — including exactly what I said and did, and why it worked.
Hopefully, doing so will offer you some insights into your own relationships with men, to create more loving, committed, and passionate partnerships.
What is the hero instinct?
The hero instinct is a form of relationship psychology first coined by author James Bauer in his popular book “His Secret Obsession.”
Bauer defines the hero instinct as a man’s deep, built-in desire to protect and provide for the ones he loves.
It’s a primal urge that makes him want to step up to the plate for the woman in his life. We don’t always know why we do certain things. But when it comes to our instincts, there are reasons behind them.
In a nutshell, you can sum up the hero instinct by saying that guys want to be your hero, and it’s up to you to make them feel like they are.
When you fail to trigger the hero instinct in your guy, he doesn’t feel needed.
Which can ultimately leave him feeling undervalued and emasculated. And that’s obviously fairly disastrous for your relationship.
Why I turned to the hero instinct
I am an incredibly competent woman. I know that I’m smart, capable, and can easily juggle many things at once.
I’m also a self-professed feminist so I’ll be honest, the idea that I should try to make a guy “feel like a hero” felt uncomfortable to me at first. It seemed like some archaic sexist idea. But it also made sense on a very intuitive level, and I couldn’t ignore that.
The men I’ve ended up in relationships with have usually been drawn to me exactly because of my strength. They’ve found my intelligence and independence sexy.
But I noticed I kept falling into similar relationship patterns. The things that guys seemed to love about me in the beginning, were ultimately turning into our problems later on.
When a woman can “do it all”, where is the room for the man in her life? I realized that I had a tendency to take over in a relationship (which is never good). Men and women both have an equal role, and I was steamrollering over my man’s role.
The end result was I felt like their mother (which I hated) and they felt emasculated (which they hated).
When my current relationship started experiencing the same sorts of issues, I was determined not to let it fall foul like past romances. So I turned to the hero instinct as the antidote. Looking back I believe it saved our relationship.
10 examples where I used the hero instinct on my man
1) I asked my man to help me redecorate my apartment
Asking for help makes you stronger, not weaker. But I was so used to habitually doing everything for myself, that I often didn’t give it much thought.
But a relationship is ultimately a partnership. If you don’t need your man for anything, he’s going to start to feel obsolete in your life.
There’s a huge difference between being needy or clingy and turning to the man you love for help.
Once upon a time, I would never have dreamt of asking for my boyfriend’s help with manual tasks. I’d think to myself I was putting him out, or somehow suggesting I couldn’t do it myself.
But the hero instinct says that allowing him to feel useful to you is vital. So I asked my guy if he’d help paint my apartment. Could I have just hired someone, or done it myself? Of course.
But my competence in being able to look after myself actually made him feel even more boosted by me choosing to turn to him.
Far from being a burden, I could tell straight away that asking a favor of him made him feel good about himself.
2) I bought him a cake when he did really well on a work project
This way to trigger the hero instinct is all about celebrating his wins. Men are looking for your admiration. Let’s face it, we all want to feel admired by people we love.
That’s why it’s important to acknowledge his success in life. You’re showing him that you see him as valuable.
So when he had worked really hard on a particular project and got amazing feedback from his boss, I decided to buy him a cake to let him know how proud of him I was.
You might be thinking, that’s a really mothering thing to do, but here the big difference. I wasn’t mothering him this time, I was being his cheerleader.
That is why it worked. He felt special because I showed him I thought he was special.
3) I told all his friends about him beating his personal best in a marathon
It’s so easy to start nitpicking in a relationship. I think it happens to us all. It doesn’t usually start that way, but in a long-term relationship, this can especially be the case.
Plenty of couples also fall into bad habits of criticizing and complaining about one another in other peoples company.
Tearing him down in front of his friends is a big hero instinct no, no. Bigging him up when you’re with his pals or family is a huge double tick.
So when we went out to meet his friends for drinks, I made sure I bragged about my man on his behalf.
I told them all about how amazing he did in a marathon he had recently run, totally smashing his personal best time.
I was showing him (and them) that he is a total hero in my eyes.
4) I asked his advice on my career
When I was trying to decide whether to go freelance or stay with my full-time job, my man was the very first person whose opinion I sought out.
I let him know that I value his opinion both professionally (as someone experienced in the same industry) and also personally (as someone who knows me and has my best interests at heart.
His hero instinct was triggered because I was seeking his input in my life. By turning to your man for his counsel, you make it clear that you respect him.
5) I asked him to help me with my luggage
Asking my guy to carry my suitcase when it’s heavy is just one of the many examples I could give you of ways I’ve started to try and make him feel more manly.
- When a bottle of wine has a cork, I always ask him to open it.
- When there’s something on the top shelf I can’t reach, I ask him to get it for me.
- When the lid of the jar won’t budge, I ask him to loosen it.
There are 1001 ways you can make him feel subtly (and probably secretly) proud about his manliness.
I never fake it, or only ask him to do things just to flatter his ego. That would only come across as insincere anyway.
And laying it on too thick is something the hero instinct suggests you avoid. A guy wants to feel like a hero, not be condescended.
But these are the small daily occurrences that make my life easier by enlisting my man’s help. So everybody wins.
6) I text him to say thanks again for giving me a ride
Our partners usually do lots of little acts of devotion within a relationship. But many of them will go unnoticed and unthanked.
Of course, you expect the person who loves you to help you. But it’s so important to always show appreciation for everything they do.
Gratitude is powerful. It offers us an instant boost.
Showing your man that you feel grateful for everything he does for you allows him to know he is appreciated.
I was meeting some girlfriends for a few drinks. Rather than grab a taxi, my man offered to give me a lift.
Once he’d dropped me off I send him a quick text whilst my friend was in the bathroom, just to say how much I really appreciated the gesture. And that it made me feel loved and cared for.
Not feeling appreciated by a partner is one of the reasons men say they have affairs.
Remembering to say thank you is such a small act that has a huge impact on the relationship.
7) I suggested that he spent the weekend with his friends
Even when we love our partners dearly, we don’t want to ever build our entire world around them. It’s not healthy and can create codependent patterns.
Encouraging your man to have his own playtime is a great way to trigger his hero instinct. For me, this one comes easily, as I also love time alone to do my thing.
Giving him space to pursue his interests and hobbies, or simply hang with his friends is really important.
To show my man that I want to support his other interests I suggested he did something with the boys one upcoming weekend.
I know they all love hockey (which certainly ain’t my thing). So I suggested they go to a game.
Being moody about your guy spending time on his other passions is a sure-fire way to push him away.
8) I told him that he makes me really happy
**Soppy alert** I wrote my guy a list of 10 reasons and ways he makes me happy every day.
I won’t go into details, as it’s obviously pretty personal but the point is if he makes you happy, be sure to let him know it.
Life is short, the people who are important to us need to know it. A real man feels good by knowing he makes you feel good.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get annoyed at him and have angry words for him too. It’s not about always pretending to be happy.
But even by smiling, laughing, and showing him you have a good time around him, you are letting him know that he’s a positive influence in your life.
9) I tell him he’s the smartest guy I know and he can do anything he puts his mind to
It’s important to point out here that I really do believe my guy is the smartest man I know. Remember what I said earlier about being sincere rather than blowing smoke up his ass.
Maybe your man is ambitious, driven, or amazing with his hands (get your mind out of the gutter, I mean at building things of course).
Whatever it is, encouraging and supporting him in his goals is a great way to trigger his hero instinct.
A partnership is about growing as an individual through having someone else believe in you.
He wants to hear that you know he has the skills and abilities to take him wherever he wants to go. Always encourage him to be his best self.
10) I asked him to take a look at my car when it was making a weird noise
When you take a deeper look at the hero instinct you’ll discover that a lot of it is about enabling a man to feel useful.
The key is to find those things that he can do, which you can’t really do for yourself. In this instance, it was to fix my car. I know nothing about machines and he’s a natural.
If you know that a guy is great at practical things it can be a good opportunity to trigger his hero instinct.
Not only are you asking for his help and making him feel needed, you’re also letting him feel manly too.
So whether it’s the flatpack furniture you can’t face, your laptop that’s giving you trouble, or some sort of DIY that he can help you out with — put your man to good use.