Single Men: STOP Playing the Hero

supermanMy husband and I were out with our family about a year ago, eating lunch at one of those fast food restaurants that have a playground inside.  My son was happily playing (places like that are like Disney World for him), and when the food arrived, my husband told him it was time to eat & to come sit down.  While we were there eating and talking to each other when suddenly there was a yell from inside the playground area (high up where slide was).  My son… jumped out of his seat... ran as fast as he could to the opening of the playground at the bottom, climbed up faster than I’d ever seen his body move, and all in pursuit to save this little girl who had yelled.

It wasn’t a scream of terror – there was nothing wrong, no parents were alarmed, but my son… my adorable little boy, took the situation at hand and decided to become her super hero.  To make matters worse, he was actually wearing his Super Man shirt that day.  We watched as our little boy ran to her aid… in a Super Man shirt – oh the irony.

My husband leaned over and jokingly said to me, Our son has Hero Complex.”  No kidding.

Being a hero is innate to men.  Men are designed to be strong, brave, a little dangerous even (my husband always carries and is always ready to use his weapon if need be).  Women love this, we’re drawn to men that emit confidence and assurance… the kind of man that you know that if he were to be in gun fight, he’d come out ok.

The problem is when, as a man, you start to feel the need to always save every woman in distress, even when she is in control of her situation, (and not really in need of dire help).

Like the girl at the playground who “yelled,” instead of truly screamed, nothing is usually wrong, however, sometimes a man will feel this strong urge to protect or shield a woman from something.  This desire becomes a Hero Complex when a man feels the need to protect when he shouldn’t be protecting, to save when she doesn’t want to be saved, or to rescue her when she’d rather stay put.  It quite honestly is often times a problem she needs to be solving herself.

With male friends, we’ve seen this play out in several different scenarios, if you are a single guy, and are finding yourself frequently in this position of trying to “be there” for her, or rescue her (physically, financially, or emotionally) then you just may have Hero Complex.

  • The woman who always complains to you about her bad relationship(s), but never ever leaves them (or continues to choose the wrong guy over and over again).  In this scenario, we’ve seen male friends try to cling to women who are either in a slightly abusive relationship (with a boyfriend or a husband), or are simply venting & complaining to another male about her significant other.  If you are the single guy in this scenario, here me now: you are being an emotional outlet to her only… she is NOT interested in you more than likely (or hello, she would’ve gotten with you), she is just using you as an emotional dumpster to literally dump all of her frustrations out on.  You are her emotional trash can.   I know it sounds harsh, but the reality is that you will more than likely never get this woman to be with you, so why are you wasting time trying to play the counselor or “hero” in order to rescue her from her bad choices?  You can be a friend, but counseling someone constantly who is not interested in making any positive changes to alter the situation is only draining for you.  The best thing you can do for her is to back off, let her grow up, and learn to take responsibility for her choices in her own life.
  • The woman who is emotionally immature, bipolar, chronically depressed, or otherwise unstable.  In this scenario, which is more common than people want to think, a single guy links up with a girl who has one of these issues, tries to ignore them for weeks or months on end, riding the emotional roller-coaster of a relationship with her, hoping he will wake up one day and she will magically be the sweet, loving, and kind girl she was back when they were first dating.  The girl (who is usually now his “girlfriend”) has him so wrapped up in the relationship that he thinks ending it is a bigger risk than trying to stay, and endure her tantrums or emotional instability.  He is usually in denial that she really has a problem, or he may even try desperately to get her to see that she needs help, or that she’s stuck in a chronic depression.  He tries to play the “Hero” who stays with her, or is there for her emotionally, or in extremely nasty cases: he feels forced to save her because she threatens suicide.  It is worth noting that typically only younger men stay too long in relationships with these kinds of women, older men just don’t want to put up with that kind of BS, because they see it for what it is: the woman acting like a spoiled child or a patient who refuses to take their medicine or get the necessary help.  As a single guy, hopefully you can see how unhelpful playing this role is, not only to her, but also for yourself!  If you stay in a relationship with a woman with one of these issues, that has no intention of taking care of herself or doing the work to get healthy, you are wasting the time you could’ve spent finding someone else – someone who is emotionally stable, or who takes care of herself.  Someone you deserve as a partner in life.
  • The woman who is always needing money.  This should be obvious, however, I’ve had male friends tell me they would at times, “help out” a single mom or woman in their life who (was venting to them) and happened to mention that she needed money.  One thing: Women don’t just happen to mention things, us women are usually very in touch with are verbal communication, so a woman “mentioning” something to you, is ONLY mentioning it because she wants you to know.  In this case of a woman needing financial help, it is never wise for a guy to just give her (or anyone for that matter) a loan of money in hopes that she will find her way out of her situation, and be able to pay him back soon.  Most often the woman will take longer than you’d expect to pay the man back, if she ever bothers to pay him back, and the simple loan or gift he gives will usually not change the circumstances that got her in the position she was in of needing money in the first place.  This is another example of a guy playing the “Hero,” rescuing her out of her financial distress, when in reality, the woman needs to figure out a long-term solution to her financial problems.  A single guy helping her out every now and then is enabling, and a disservice, rather than allowing life to teach her how to be responsible & wise with money.

So, single men, stop playing the Hero unless it’s in your job description.  Take care of yourself, and expect women you’re dating to be able to do the same.


  1. This is a great post. I keep trying to explain that love sometimes requires us to say no and to speak some hard truths as gently as possible. Men can be really good at the crisis rescue, but there’s another way to rescue women, where you simply speak truthfully to them about what they are doing. Always need to borrow money? Ask her why that is, what she’s doing to create that problem. Bad relationship, why are you allowing yourself to be treated that way? Women really need to be encouraged to solve their own problems and it’s very sweet to want to fix it all for her, but that’s not the kindest thing to do.

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