March 10, 2013

The Bird-Hand Analogy: Which are you?

Since reading this compelling piece on the Bird-Hand relationship analogy, the premise being that in every relationship, one person is the Hand, and the other, the Bird, it has made me realize how fundamental this balance is in relationships.  According to the writer, in an ideal relationship the Hand is the provider, the one who is grounded and stable, while the Bird is the more free-spirited, adventurous one.  Hands are generally content with the simple life, while Birds are stimulated by new experiences and the possibility for adventure.  In a relationship where there are two Birds the relationship might lack stability and trust, especially if the Birds are constantly flying in different directions.  Meanwhile, if there are two Hands the whole thing can become overly routine and mundane, boring, even.  For this reason, one of each is key to a satisfying and mutual bond. 

I know, and have always, known that I – even apart from an assumed role in a relationship – am a bit of a Bird.  It’s true that I don’t jump out of planes on a regular basis, I am not a crazy party animal, and I am actually perfectly content being at home on a Friday night, but I am a Bird by way of needing my space and freedom, a steady amount of stimulation (both intellectual and physical), and new experiences and adventures.  Having enough of this all keeps me balanced and fulfilled.

Though I’ve been attracted to other Birds (obviously – Birds can be a lot of fun!), what is particularly appealing to me – and quite honestly what is best for me – is a Hand to be that stable provider that I crave and need.  In the one or two times I've dated other Birds in the past I felt I had to assume the Hand role (perhaps because I was the less flighty of the two Birds in the duo), and it made me feel like the nagging mother that I was not comfortable being.  And seriously, there is nothing worse than feeling like the mom in a romantic relationship. 

As a Bird, I pride myself in being the cool chick who encourages her man go on fishing trips with the guys and to venture off for an impromptu trip to Boston to catch a Celtics game.  Why I do this, of course, is because I want him to warrant the same kind of freedom to me.  I would not be happy otherwise.  But if he were also a Bird, I have a feeling I might not be as encouraging, because let’s just be real: two Birds don’t make a right.  On the other hand, in platonic relationships I gravitate toward other Birds, and for some reason, that dynamic works supremely well.  I love my Birdy friends!    

What’s most important about this Bird-Hand analogy is the balance that a romantic relationship requires.  Just as Birds need to fly around (some species more than others), they also need to tend to the nest, to be on the ground grabbing grub.  And when they do come around -- hopefully more often than they are flying around in the sky -- the Hand, reliable and stable as he/she may be, is there to accompany them, to listen to their ideas and dreams, to hold and take care of them.  And when the Bird gets all aflutter with either a brilliant or outlandish idea, the Hand can see the forest for the trees and either support or help bring the idea to fruition, or to say that it’s just a shitty idea, which is sometimes necessary!  Meanwhile, when a Hand gets overly consumed with all that’s practical, pragmatic, and routine, the Bird coerces the Hand to try new things, to push through its comfort zone, to fly around in the sky for a while.  In this way, the Hand needs the Bird just as much as the Bird needs the Hand, and the two together are a match made in heaven, as they say.

So, what are YOU -- the Bird or the Hand?


Andrea said...

Reading the first paragraph, I felt like i could relate 100 percent. In my previous relationship, i felt like the hand, the one who nurtured and tried to support my partner's dreams and ambitions. He pushed me to pursue my dreams as well but i couldn't because i felt overshadowed by his. There was this power struggle that I felt between us. That's when i realized that i am a bird as well. I felt like you, the nagging mother, because as much as he was caring, he was still a kid and wanted do his own thing and expect me to be around after a night of hanging out with friends. Anyways before I go on more of a tangent, what i learned is that I' m a damn bird yet have the tendencies of a hand as well lol I think a mutual balance of both works, as long as one isn't an extreme.

Sarah Woehler Michaud said...

I hear that - it's tough being a shade of grey in that regard, but it's what keeps us interesting, right? Glad you could relate. :-)

Angela said...

What happens when the Hand misses the Bird too much. How can the Hand control the need to hold as not to become too needy?