It’s Christmas time and aside from Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time when people “desperately” want to get involved in a romantic experience. When I was young, my only thought of a happy Christmas was one I could spend with my family but somehow it changed when I hit puberty and has continued on until adulthood. The want for romance became a staple especially during such seasons. Maybe it’s because of the cold weather or maybe because it is a season of love after all, whatever the reason there is always that connotation that people would be happier if they have a significant other to share the holidays with.
When you’re single like me (for my whole life) you get curious about why you’re still single. There is that inner feeling of wanting to know how it would be like to have a significant other. There is also that wonder whether there is a secret to getting into and keeping a relationship. And if you’re also a geek like me that curiosity will get the better of you and you’ll start researching. So I did what most single geeks would do — I researched, looked for good materials and read up. I couldn’t count the number of references I’ve looked into but almost all of them had this one similar factor, the concept of a “Hero Complex.”
I won’t be able to completely explain it here since I found no singular explanation of the phenomenon. However, it is basically something related to men. According to one reference the “hero complex” is the basic instinct of a guy to become someone’s hero. It is termed as a need for a man to feel like he is needed and trusted by someone. It is an inner complex that makes a man want to save and protect someone who needs them. Translating it to the world of relationships, a man basically wants a woman whom he can save and protect, a woman who needs him to be her hero and for girls to get a man’s attention, they’d have to play to a man’s hero complex by being the damsel that needs one. There is this one book that teaches how to get a stranger’s (a man’s) attention. It says that a girl should try to drop something in front of the guy (maybe a handkerchief) and let him pick it up and give it back. This plays to the guy’s hero complex because he feels that he did a small heroic thing by helping the girl. This will also make him feel like he made the first move whereas in reality it was the girl that picked him. I have a lot of comments with this example alone. One, the girl is expressly being told to become manipulative. There are times that manipulation to get what you want is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone but when you want to start a life-long relationship with someone, starting it with a manipulative move will not end well since you’d have to keep it up until the secret comes out and both of you realize it wasn’t worth it in the end. Two, it somehow made the guy look dumb. The handkerchief move has been there for generations and a guy who will obviously fall for that trick is well, a little out of it, don’t you think? Also, it presupposes that guys have the obligation to pick the handkerchief up for the girl. He doesn’t. It is courtesy, yes but it something that should not only be done by men. If a girl sees the fallen handkerchief first, as courtesy, she can pick it up and return it to the owner. In the first place, why can’t she? As you can see, all this talk about girls playing to a man’s Hero complex strikes too many issues with me but still the curious cat in me wanted to give it a try.
In my previous post I related about the time when I found it hard to write because it felt like I was lying to myself even when I wrote. One of the reasons for that was because during the time I tried to woo a certain guy I tried to play to his hero complex by letting him carry things for me that I can carry on my own, letting him walk me home when we basically live near each other and I can go home on my own, letting him take the lead when there are times I thought I can do things faster and more efficient, not calling him out even though I knew he was doing something wrong. Now, you’ll probably say that I’m full of myself thinking that I am better than this guy at everything. That’s not it. These were only moments and not an everyday thing. There were times when I really needed help carrying stuff and I appreciated his help and there were more times that I find his methods efficient and let him lead because it was the better way of doing things. The issue is, when I can do it on my own, I still let him do it because he wanted to and I wanted him to think that he’s helping me and make him feel like, well, my hero. Wrong move. Every time I did that during such moments I could feel a tingle in my heart. It kind of hurts whenever I try to restrain myself from even saying anything for the fear that he might look at me differently. There was a fear of coming off too strong and making him feel insecure. It honestly hurt every time because I knew I wasn’t being myself. I was close to losing myself and that was when I decided that all this hero complex, playing the damsel, etc. are nothing but stereotypes and traditions that undermine who I really am — a strong and independent woman. Luckily, I got out of that mess.
Fast forward, I met another guy just a few days ago who interested me. Due to a similar interest in a movie we decided to go and watch it. This was the first time I’d be going out alone with, basically, a stranger. There was no mention of it being a romantic date and honestly, I did not get my hopes up. Still, I wanted to see how it goes and if ever there was a chance that it might turn out to be something else. At first, it was a bit awkward. We just met and there were a lot of things we still didn’t know about each other. Some dead air was for me, just normal. There were times we held conversations about random stuff but the conversation that really stuck with me was one about why he thinks I’m still single.
When we first met I already mentioned things about not conforming to sexist notions. I think that was when he said he’ll be okay going home alone even when it’s already late since he was a guy. I directly told him that it was a sexist notion and told him honestly that he was in the same danger of getting robbed or killed even as a guy since he wasn’t that big or muscled or intimidating. I admit that was too frank but I think that was the alcohol talking at that time. 😀 Therefore when we met again there was no use pretending I was a damsel in distress. Frankly, I had no intention to. It started with doors. Whenever I arrive at a door first I open it and do not wait for him. There was even a time I let him pass first and opened the door for him. Another incident was when he opened the door for me but instead of passing first and thanking him my inner instinct made me want to hold the door after him so that he can pass through first and I’ll just follow. At first he jokingly remarked that I should at least give in and just pass through the door that was opened for me. I told him I do not need to. I forgot how we got to this point but we started conversing about men leading during dates. I think it was when he wanted to assist me with my stuff and I told him I could manage. He made a comment which I forgot what it was. All I remember was that I asked him if guys get offended by such move and he bluntly told me YES, especially when a guy has intentions towards a girl and they were on a romantic date. He abruptly added that what we were doing was not a romantic date but a friendly one. That was when I knew I’d been friendzoned, again. Having been friendzoned, all the more reason for me to be who I really was, right? He kept calling me a “strong, independent woman.” I didn’t mind because I believed I was but I knew that the undertone to that was the fact that he did not see me as a potential significant other because of that fact. If I had brought that up we may have ended up in an argument rather than a healthy conversation.
There was also a part in our conversation wherein I told him about the hero complex and said that girls nowadays no longer need heroes and guys to save and protect them. He countered by saying that the fact that she was with a guy says otherwise. I think I told him that it doesn’t matter because what is important is the company and he said that “kailangan talaga lalaki?” That honestly did not make sense to me because why not? If your friend is a guy should you not be hanging out with him alone for the mere fact that you enjoy his company just because he is a guy? That does not make sense. I’ve hung out alone with many of my guy friends and it didn’t matter. There was no difference between hanging out with them and hanging out with my girl friends because I enjoy their company nonetheless. Gender does not play a role in enjoying one’s company. I do not remember how this conversation ended but at least we did not end up arguing. When we parted he thanked me for “the company” through a text message. I think it was aimed to jab at what we just talked about. Despite all this, he was still supportive. He said that someday someone who will be the best pair for me will eventually come and I should not give up or be bitter that I don’t have a boyfriend at this time. In the end, it was a good conversation and we parted as better friends, as it should be. I will not attempt to make him change his views on dating because I respect him and his views but I will definitely not hold back on saying what’s mine. At least he’ll know that there is another side of the story.
To end, I think people, and not just men, should realize that the traditional rules of having the guy lead are slowly going extinct because the truth is, all relationships, especially romantic ones, should be a shared experience. Personally, I do not need someone to come save or protect me. I think I can do that on my own as I have been for 26 plus years. There may be times when I do need some saving or protecting but not all the time and certainly not for the rest of my life. I do not need a hero, I need a partner who would stand by me and I by him whenever we need each other. I want a companion who, even without saying anything, makes my day brighter by just being there and I hope he thinks the same way about me. So, I’m sorry if I will break tradition and say that girls playing to a guy’s “hero complex” in order to become attractive to the opposite sex is outdated and a complete bull. I refuse to conform to such nonsense and if this means that I might never (or have a very slim chance to) find someone who will be attracted to me then fine. It’ll be a little sad to realize that there isn’t someone out there who thinks the way I do or at least accepts the way I see and believe things but that’s the price I’m willing to pay just so I can hopefully change the way people see things. If I conform and give in to the temptation just because I want someone to share the rest of my life with then I won’t be changing anything. I’ll just be proving that the tradition is right. Still, I do believe it’s time to change so I will step up and continue on this path hoping that someday viewpoints will change and we are finally ushered into a world where stereotypes and traditional rules do not matter and that strong and independent women will not be forced to compromise who they really are for the sake of a chance in love.