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  • Amelia Harshfield

four problems with the desire to 'fix' someone

Updated: Apr 21

Initially, when you attracted any of your partners, you may have seen them as attractive and a challenge. It's like you could see all of their potential if you could just get them to change a few things. A friend described her attraction to a guy as "I can see he had a wall and I just wanted to tear it down". Another said she wants her partner to get to the point where she can help him. This is played out in relationships in different ways, yet the same dynamics are happening underneath the surface.


The relationship starts easily and is exciting. There are so many things you like about the person. The appeal of trying to save someone is almost like a hunt. They are exciting and like a diamond, you can help clean for the world. They have that mysterious desirability that you are just drawn you. Then time sets in and the relationship patterns start to show. Your partner is not listening to you or wanting to change the way you want. From this, you may start to feel frustrated and unheard. You possibly might feel stuck or powerless over the relationship. All the while you are thinking things like "let you help them and they will be ok". If they change this way, then the relationship will improve.


The first problem with this desire in a relationship is that you are possibly not recognizing how you are contributing to the relationship. Once you start to take ownership of this, you may feel empowered to work on yourself. If you are having this pattern you probably learned it from your parents. Although you may see it within their relationship, they might not be aware of their own behavior with this. The good news is once you can see your patterning with this behavior, you can stop this pattern in your life. Awareness of the problem is a huge step toward recovery. It might involve a grieving process, so take the time it takes with that. But it is a win when you become aware of the patterns holding you back. You cannot change something of which you aren't aware.



The second problem with this way of thinking is you cannot force someone to change. When you do this you are trying to repair someone who might not want to be repaired. Part of you might understand that and agree with that sentence. However if deep down there is part of you that doesn't want to agree with this sentence and wants to keep changing others, then you need to recognize you are contributing to your unhappiness here. Being accountable for what you add to a relationship is a giant step forward. Everything is not your partner's fault, and you contribute aspects of the relationship that you are frustrated with. As you change, the relationship can and will change.


The third problem with this is that you are trying to fix a person. Please remember people are not things. They don't break for you to tape back together. People have their own feelings and pain. They have different desires, dreams, and needs from you. When your role in the relationship is trying to change the partner in a way you believe is best, you are likely not taking them into consideration. You are putting what you want into the relationship and expecting it to change the way you want it to.


The fourth problem is that you are trying to save someone. By trying to be the hero, you may believe you will finally get the validation and love you are looking for deep down. You cannot get what you are missing inside by fixing or trying to complete another person. You will be setting yourself up for a never-ending quest of letdowns. The person you can help is yourself. You are likely used to putting others first and relying on their happiness to be your happiness. But who is doing the same for you?


To change this pattern, you can ask questions like do you want someone to change you for their reasons? How would you feel if your partner was doing this to you? Do you think they like you doing this? Do they want to change? Why are you trying to save others? What do you want? What are your needs? Journaling answers to these questions every day for a week will likely bring insight into the underlying causes of this struggle.


For more exercises, sign up for the free Enhance Your Relationships Self-Assessment on the home page of my website. It is a diagnostic tool to help you understand dynamics in the relationship which are holding you back. It also has relevant exercises and additional resources to keep you moving in a healthier direction with those around you.


Photo credit: kazuend on Unsplash

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