The Hero and the Broken Bird: Therapy for “Nice Guys”
 
Monday, September 14, 2009

By: Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC

“Nice guys” in love often find themselves playing the role of the hero, or the savior, to the women that they become involved with in relationship. These nice guys guys often seek out women who are “broken birds,” or relationship partners that are attractive because their flaws create an attractive project to the nice guy hero.

So many men fall into the hero role, and end up creating a lot of relationship misery for themselves. This is not a truly loving relationship; this is a neurotic relationship that serves to reinforce the nice guy’s identity about needing to be needed. When a nice guy is needed by a broken bird, it makes that guy feel wanted, needed, and special.

Broken birds can often never be fixed, although they may look very appealing and beautiful on the outside. The appeal to be with or fix a broken bird blinds most nice guys to what’s really going on. It prevents true relationship, in the sense that two people are relating to each other as full human beings, and not as roles being played. Nice guys and broken birds interact with only versions of themselves, and not as people in love. It may feel like love, but it’s codependency.

As long as the nice guy is committed to trying to fix the broken bird, he is doomed to fail every time. Like I said, broken birds cannot be fixed. But when they do get fixed — if that happens — then that upsets the equilibrium of the relationship. When one person does something different, the whole system is forced into changing itself. What does this mean? Well, if you’re a nice guy with a broken bird, you will be forced into needing to learn how to reinvent your relationship with your partner. Or, just as often, the broken bird will end up mending its wings and flying away, unless the nice guy does first.

That latter scenario would entail a major change in the way a man redefines himself, and that would mean to lose the hero’s cape. He would need to learn how to have a meaningful relationship without needing to fix or man and his partner, and these are structural changes. So long as these structural changes go unattended, the attraction or seduction to engage in a relationship with a broken bird is highly tempting.



Author : Jason Fierstein MA, LPC
As the "man that men will talk to," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC, is a counselor for men and couples and practices in Phoenix, AZ. He works with guys who want to improve their lives, and make happier wives. He is currently accepting new clients. Please visit his profile for more information or to set an appointment.