The Hero Effect: What is it and why should you use it when dating

Do you fancy yourself a superhero (Picture: getty)

Who doesn’t want to be a real life superhero?

We’ve already delved into what the princess complex is – and why people like to feel taken care of in a dating situation.

Now, it’s time to flip the script and satisfy those who like to be the protector – or the hero.

In simple terms, the hero effect is a person’s desire to feel wanted, needed – and as though they can protect and support those closest to them.

Generally, this shouldn’t be a one-way street. Both partners need to cater to each other’s needs – but it’s natural during the course of a healthy relationship for the scales to tip slightly one way or another, and you’ll be need to be each other’s hero at different points.

Dating and relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan told about what the hero effect can do for your relationship.

Married couple embracing on sofa

The Hero effect works both ways (Picture: Getty Images)

Mutual validation

‘The hero effect could take place in a relationship with a person who wants their partner to safe, supported and protected – they want to make their partner feel needed,’ says Sarah.

‘The validation of the hero effect goes both ways, as when the person is being “protected” and supported by the other, they equally feel seen, heard, looked after and connected.’

This in turn will boost the ego of the person they are dating, creating a dynamic where both parties get the validation they need.

It may come down to biology

While this could apply to any couple – whether it’s a heterosexual or same sex relationship – biology seeks to suggest that the hero effect is a primal instinct for males.

It comes from the age old community ‘norms’ of a hunter gatherer society.

Many outline it as a biological and societal want from a male to give, and be needed, by those who he cares about the most.

When men do this they might feel validated, respected and purposeful. But this will not apply to all men nor will it just apply to just men – some people simply enjoy being the ‘protector’ in the relationship.

It can help create a relationship where you both feel valued (Picture: Getty Images)

It creates inclusivity

When you ask your partner – the hero in this situation – for their opinion on important decisions – even if you feel like you have made your decision on your own – it creates an inclusive space. 

It helps create a sense of a team. And while most people – no matter how they gender identify – enjoy independence and can make decisions alone, making decisions together as a team creates a solid emotional connection.

So when the hero is asking their partner for their opinion or advice, they may feel a sense of belonging and respect – while you could make decisions alone, you choose to have their input and insight into the situation.

They will feel respected and, in turn, respect you for that.

It may show to a partner that you are creating space for them and that their thoughts, opinions and experiences are meaningful and add value to your life.

It can strengthen trust

We all seek validation, it’s human nature. One of our deepest desires is to have a strong sense of belonging.

For people with a hero complex – and for people in general – the greatest sense of belonging they can achieve is with a romantic other who is emotionally, intellectually and sexually connected to them.

Validation makes us feel seen, heard, valued and respected. This turns to trust and from this love can develop.

It can improve respect and intimacy (Picture: Getty Images)

Use it carefully

The Hero effect shouldn’t be used all the time on other people as well as your partner.

It could be seen as devaluing for your partner if you ask others for their opinion and disregard theirs. It could create cracks in the connection.

If it’s because you would like a collective opinion and that’s innocent then it will not be detrimental.

However, if its a strategy of emasculation it can only serve to break trust, respect and that feeling of being equal in a romantic relationship. 

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