Ways to Turn On the Hero Instinct in Men

Relationship Rules
12 Feb 2024
10 min read
What Hero Instinct in Men Is and How to Activate It

The hero instinct in men is a psychological phenomenon in which they want to be seen as a hero or feel appreciated by the people they care the most about. Also, the hero instinct refers to a desire to feel valued – in most cases, only those who have an emotional connection with them will be able to make hero instinct work.

Let’s see which behaviors trigger hero instinct and how you can help bring it to life.

What Exactly Is the Hero Instinct in Men?

“It’s because the hero instinct is a biological drive…just like hunger, thirst, and sex. But once this drive is triggered, it becomes more powerful than all 3 combined. This is what makes it virtually impossible for him to ignore.”

Relationship coach James Bauer

A man’s hero instinct is a biologically hardwired urge to be seen as the hero in the eyes of their partner. Many believe this relatively new concept in psychology is the key to encouraging men to commit to a relationship. By triggering a man’s hero instinct, you will fulfill these needs and make him more likely to commit to the relationship.

When in a relationship with a romantic partner, men have a few needs to be fulfilled to activate their hero instinct. In particular, men want to feel respected, needed, and have a purpose.

20 ways to trigger hero instinct in men

20 Ways to Trigger the Hero Instinct

We have learned what the hero instinct is and why it’s so important. Let’s look at the many ways to trigger a man’s hero instinct.

1. Turn to Him When You Need Help

Most women don’t need a man to help them figure out every problem. After all, we’re all perfectly capable of handling our problems. However, there are times when we all need some help, regardless of gender.

Turning to him for help isn’t going to tarnish your independent nature. It shows that you are capable of recognizing and accepting help when you need it.

He wants to be helpful, and he wants to feel as if you can rely on him. So when you ask him for help, he gets to feel truly useful and reliable.

This can be a difficult step for many women to take. Many have been socialized to believe that by asking for help, they create an uneven relationship dynamic. Others worry that they are being difficult or a nag. Fortunately, there are ways to ask for help and support while maintaining a healthy relationship.

Related reading: Have You Met the One? 19 Early Signs That ‘Yes’!

2. Praise Him

Give him compliments and let him know that he did a good job. Many ladies fall for the media stereotypes that all men should be stoic and humble and not care about or crave gratification. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Men love to be complimented, but those compliments need to be genuine. They don’t want to hear you compliment them just to be polite or because you feel like you must. They want to hear compliments and praise from you that is real:

  • Tell him that he looks good in that shirt you like
  • Let him know what a thoughtful person he is
  • Show him that you’ve noticed how hard he is working

There are so many ways you can give him a genuine compliment. To trigger a man’s hero instinct, you need to dig deeper to make him see you differently from other women. By giving him compliments that no other woman can give, you become in a more positive light than other women.

Related reading: Words of Affirmation – How to Make Them Into Love Language?

3. Give Him a Challenge

Men love a good challenge. This doesn’t mean they want you to be playing games like hard to get or solve problems you purposely created. But what they do want is for someone to keep them engaged and make them see the world from different angles.

Here is how you can challenge your man:

  • Give him a job that isn’t a completely straightforward task
  • Invite him to play a new sport with you
  • Talk with him about what bothers you now and ask him for ways to solve your problems.

Any challenge you throw at him will boost his confidence and fulfill that hero’s instinct.

4. Give Him Your Support

Be the person he can lean back and rely on when things get tough. That’s what his friends, family, and partners are for.

Let him know that you will stand with him and have his back no matter what. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should fully support every single crazy plan that he has. But you shouldn’t be discouraging him for his crazy ideas. Whether these plans end up completely failing or succeeding, he will show appreciation for the way that you chose to stand by his side.

Appreciation is a powerful tool to unlock man's hero instinct

5. Show Him That You Appreciate Him

Take the time to let him know how much you appreciate him just being himself:

  • Thank him for being there for you
  • Appreciate him taking care of things when you couldn’t handle them alone
  • Give him small gifts from time to time

By showing him how much you appreciate him, you fulfill the need that men have to feel needed. And a lovely bonus: he will want to do more for you!

6. Allow His Masculine Energy to Flow Freely

Masculine energy can be toxic and healthy. When a man is in his healthy masculinity, he will have much more integrity and respect. When in toxic masculinity, he’ll become more aggressive.

When his masculine energy flows freely, he becomes more assertive and goal-driven. He may also show much more focus and interest in important tasks, and people around him will show him more respect.

In addition to these changes, you may notice him becoming more vulnerable. This way, you’ll also trigger that hero instinct in him and help to give him more purpose.

7. Make Sure That His Achievements Are Celebrated

Everyone wants to have their achievements recognized, no matter if they are big or small:

  • Saving up enough money to get the game system he’s been wanting
  • Taking a first big step toward his dream job
  • Buying a house that he’d been dreaming about

Celebrate his achievements by making his favorite meal for dinner or giving a small gift that coincides with that achievement. This way, you help to fulfill his need for purpose and will be more likely to trigger that hero instinct in him.

Related reading: Relationship Goals That Will Get Your Couple on the Same Page

8. Let Him Protect You

Men are inclined to be protectors. It’s not some secret obsession that they have with wanting to be seen as big and strong. In nature, males almost always stand by and make sure that everyone is protected from harm. This primal desire is ingrained in their DNA.

Allowing him to protect you from time to time will not inflate man’s ego but rather boost his self-confidence. Let him be a protector of your life; it’s one of the basic pieces of hero instinct psychology.

9. Allow Him to Be a Handyman

You can kill two birds with one stone in triggering the hero instinct if you let him help and protect you. How to do it? Just ask him for help around the house!

When you have a healthy relationship, you will feel free to ask them for help whenever you need it:

  • Is that faucet leaking?
  • Did you notice your doorknob isn’t working properly?
  • Has the floorboard been driving you mad with its squeaking?

All of these are relatively simple tasks that you can ask for help with. By allowing him to lend a hand with these tasks, you will help ignite and fuel those hero instinct drivers.

Related reading: Putting Love into Action – It’s a Language

10. Ask Him for His Opinions or Advice

Seeking his advice on how to handle certain situations almost guarantees to trigger his hero instinct, making him feel needed and giving him a purpose to fulfill.

Let him work with that inner hero and ask him how you should do things. By getting his advice, you create a more meaningful relationship and fulfill your man’s desire to fulfill these primal needs of being a protector.

11. Let Him Know If You’re Happy

You need to trigger a man’s instinctual drive to be a protector of not only your physical body but also your emotional and mental state. Romantic relationships are all about give and take, so use old-fashioned moments of being together to let him know you are happy with him:

  • Give him your undivided attention when you are together
  • Let him know that you have a happy life with him
  • Tell him straight to his face that he makes you happy when you are together

After all, having a happy partner will help to trigger that hero’s instinct and fill in men’s desire to be needed in a loving relationship.

12. Let Him Feel Needed

Here is how you can make him feel needed:

  • Expressing gratitude when he helps you
  • Letting him protect you
  • Seeking advice from him
  • Letting him feel like your knight in shining armor

All these things fulfill his need to feel secure and recognized in the relationship and trigger his hero instinct. Letting him feel needed and getting a self-sufficient hero out of it? Sounds like a win-win to you both!

13. Encourage Him to Have Fun

To trigger the hero instinct, let your man know you want him to pursue his hobbies and interests. Let him know that you want him to have fun and that you want him to enjoy himself when you are in this relationship.

Most men have secret obsessions that they hide out of embarrassment. Maybe in past relationships, he has found that whenever your man’s secret obsession came to light, they were shot down or even ridiculed. Thus, by encouraging him to have fun, you allow his positive masculine energy to flow and help that hero instinct improve in him.

You also get the chance to open up opportunities to spend quality time with him, which could do well for his or your love language.

14. Don’t Be His Mother

It’s ok for you to want to take care of him, and it’s ok for you to want to be there for him. But whatever you do, don’t be his mother.

To let the hero instinct in a man free, he needs to feel free to do all the things he wishes to do. Let him clean up his messes, manage his feelings and emotions, and know what you need from him. When you become his mother, you prevent him from triggering his hero instinct.

Related reading: Mommy Issues in Women

15. Show Him Respect

Respect can take on different meanings, but in a relationship between romantic partners, it usually has more to do with treating someone as your equal.

Include them in important decision-making process and try to be on the same page in discussions. If a man realizes that he isn’t your equal, it’s a one-sided relationship. As a result, he will feel less valued and hinder his heroic instinct. So don’t let your man fall into this troublesome pit, and show the regard and equality you expect from him.

If you want to trigger a man’s hero instinct, you need to treat him as your equal:

  • Remember to listen to him
  • Pay attention to both his words and body language
  • If he feels heard, he feels respected

Related reading: Setting Healthy and Fair Expectations in a Relationship

16. Use Hero Instinct Phrases

Build his confidence using hero instinct phrases, meaning small words and phrases that can put him in a great frame of mind and make him feel essential within your relationship.

Here are some of these phrases:

  • You’re so great with your nephews. I know you’ll be a great dad!
  • Wow! You really came through for me at a bad time.
  • You saved the day yesterday when you helped get my car started.
  • Thank you for showing interest in my problems and validating my concerns.
  • You are so knowledgeable about this topic. What related reading do you recommend?
  • The small things you do make life so much easier for me! I can’t wait to find some “not so small” ways to repay you.

When you say things like this, your man feels needed, and by showing appreciation in such a concrete way, you teach him how you want him to treat you in the future.

17. Let Him Take Care of You

Yes, you can allow another person to take care of you and still be strong and independent. Humans are driven to live in a community, and a romantic partnership is an expression of that.

When men take care of the needs of the people they love, they feel needed. That has such a positive impact on the male psychology.

Let him protect you so he can show his hero instinct

18. Be Honest With Him About How You Feel

Don’t hide your feelings. If you feel sad, insecure, angry, or upset, let him know. If you constantly make a man feel as if everything is great, he never feels the need to make anything better.

19. Keep Him on His Toes By Making the Unexpected Expected

No, this isn’t a manipulative relationship psychology tip. It’s a way to bring up the best in your man and make your overall relationship more interesting.

You can keep him on his toes by sharing a problem you’d like his help solving, doing puzzles together, and even finding challenges to tackle as a couple. All of these things can bring out that instinct in men that drives them to overcome obstacles to challenge themselves and become a bit of a hero in your eyes.

20. Don’t Go Overboard

Going overboard is an approach that can be taken too far. When a man is looking for the right woman, he is seeking authenticity. That’s not what he will see in you if you fawn over him or behave as if he is a great hero with minimal effort. Instead, you’ll come off as phony or condescending.

Your man wants to be a hero in your life for genuine reasons. So be genuine with him.

Final Thoughts: Now You Know How Hero Instinct Works!

The notion of the hero instincts doesn’t apply to only men. However, most men are uniquely socialized to value being seen as heroes in their relationships. Because of this, the way to a man’s heart is undeniably tied to this trait.

When you spend time learning to trigger the hero instinct, you will be rewarded with his dedication and loyalty. If this is a topic you find interesting, be sure to check out other ways to trigger hero instinct, make your man feel recognized, and build your life as a happy wife from authors like Alex Carver and James Bauer.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.
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