Fixer: Someone who engages in relationships with dysfunctional partners, with an uncontrollable need to help, give, rescue, and recreate that person into the image that they desire.

If you see yourself in the above definition, raise your hand if you have ever tried to fix someone and it actually worked? I’m not talking about two relatively healthy people, who make each other better. I’m talking about two unhealthy, broken people, with one giving and one taking, one responsible for everything and one responsible for nothing, and with one trying to change the other into something they are not.

Fixers are the type of people that will pick a partner, and not concern themselves if the person is a right fit for them. Once they’ve found someone, anyone that shows interest in them, they’re determined to make it work, regardless of how unhealthy, broken or just plain wrong for them they are, rather than wait for someone, who is more suitable.  They choose a square peg, to fit into a round hole and they are determined to pound that peg until it fits.

What that behavior really says is, ‘I don’t think anyone else will want me and I know you are less than what I deserve. I know better, so you do what I say and I’ll mold you into a better person (for me). ‘

When we really dissect that thinking, what’s really going on here is, we know that person is broken, we know that we deserve better, we know they exhibit poor behavior, that needs to change, to even be acceptable to us, but we’re willing to ignore all that and do the work for them, because we’re afraid no one else will want us and we don’t want to be alone. On top of that we know that we have problems and focusing on yours means we don’t have to look at ours.

If you want someone that takes charge, has oodles of integrity and is family oriented, does it make sense to partner up with a broken down, that lies and manipulates people, is misanthropic, and can’t even take care of themselves? – It’s like travelling to the dessert, when you really want to go to the beach.

Many people get confused thinking that what they are doing is good and kind and altruistic even, but when we boil it all down, what he have left is massive insecurity and a lack of self-worth.

What generally ends up happening is you go on overdrive trying to come up with solutions to their problems (most fixers become excellent armchair psychologists), you have a eureka moment, when you’ve found the answers to their problems, then you impart a great deal of energy trying to make them ‘see,’ that if they just do what you say, then you can both live happily ever after.

But they never see, (most aren’t interested or even capable of changing) what happens is you end up getting frustrated because they aren’t doing what you’ve prescribed. They, in turn, get resentful, because you keep trying to change them – then they get defiant and do the exact opposite, because the type of broken people, that need to be fixed, are generally anti-social and resist being told what to do. They are the types that would spite themselves just to spite you

In the process you have shoved your own needs and your own emotions deep, deep down inside of you. You’ve been so focused on their problems, you’ve forgotten about your own. Unraveling the mystery of what’s wrong with them, has become your equation to solving the universe and it’s consumed your every thought and your every action.  Your life has become all about solving their riddle, because you’ve convinced yourself it’s the only way you’ll ever be happy.

When you present your findings and it still doesn’t work, you go back to your equation and you tinker with it and try again and again.

Meanwhile, your partner is looking at you and thinking, ‘don’t you have a life,’ and rightly so, because all you’ve demonstrated is that your life is all about them. Your interests, your hobbies, your family, your friends, have all been put on the backburner indefinitely.  And when you become fixated on an intimacy dodger, they start to feel trapped and obligated, so you can expect a disappearing act, or at least a cold front to blow in.

Broken people like fixers, because fixers are really good at accepting and even creating lame excuses for poor behavior. Fixers feel comfortable giving and sharing their resources and they’ve been conditioned to put the interests of others ahead of their own.  Broken Downs seek out fixers because they don’t want to put in a lot of effort and fixers are used to living off of bread crumbs. So all in all, it’s a perfect fit.

But what inevitably happens is those emotions you shoved down, early on, come back to the surface, but this time they manifest as disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, regret, anger, resentment and immense fatigue.  When you give and give and give with little to no return, it’s exhausting. It feels like you’re at the grocery store and you’re starving, but you have no money, but you keep looking around for something to eat.  You feel hopeless, drained and like you’ve failed again. Your brain then takes note of yet another example that you just weren’t good enough.  And you’ve usually done all this without even a thank you and even if you get one, it hardly seems like enough compensation for everything you’ve done.

Fixing is a sign of co-dependency. A lot of people become fixers, because it was a way they could derive attention and affection at home, by taking care of an emotionally manipulative parent. These are responsibilities that shouldn’t belong to children. When children are mistreated, or neglected, they gain a hyper-sensitivity to the cues and the needs of other people. They learn that the best way to get their needs met is to know when it is safe to approach and when it is best to be invisible.  By the time they reach adulthood this fixing has become a part of them, it feels natural and normal to neglect their own feelings and shove them deep, down inside and make someone else your priority.

Fixing is really a control issue.  When you try to change someone, what you’re doing, is trying to control their behavior so they don’t a) hurt themselves b) hurt anyone else and especially c) they don’t hurt you. The problem you run into when you are trying to control someone else’s behavior, is that no one wants to surrender control of themselves to another, so there’s a good chance they will rebel against you and show you just how little control of them you actually have. So not only has all your work been in vain, you’re also left licking your wounds and feeling used and foolish.

The key to breaking the need to fix, is understanding that the very concept of one person trying to change someone else is completely illogical. If we had a stadium full of fixers and we asked for a show of hands for how many people were actually able to fix their broken partner and live happily ever after, there’d be no hands. It doesn’t work – it NEVER works – EVER.

The only person you can change is you and if you engage in fixing behaviors, it’s time to change your thinking and realize that every minute you spend trying to fix someone is a minute wasted.  Understand that you can’t shape someone into your idea of what they’re supposed to be, instead accept people for what and who they are and if what they are, at this very minute, isn’t what you’re looking for, then move on. If you keep saying to yourself – if only he did this he’d be perfect…. Or if only she didn’t do this then it would work out – and you use these as excuses to hang on and keep trying to fix, then you are just fooling yourself and engaging in fantasy relationships

Love isn’t a math equation or a riddle to be solved. It’s two people with both of their feet planted firmly in reality and fully accepting of each other’s flaws. It’s about giving each other the space to grow and accepting that you each have separate interests and separate friends, as well as common ones. Love is about finding the right fit, not trying to turn someone into something they’re not.

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.