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Why Do We Try To ‘Fix’ People In Our Relationships?

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Why Do We Try To ‘Fix’ People In Our Relationships?

The title of one of Taylor Swift’s songs on her newest album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” is enough to draw many listeners in simply for its relatability:

 

 

“I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can).”
The urge to “fix” someone or change their behaviour — as well as the assurance that we’ll be successful — is a real phenomenon many of us have experienced in all kinds of relationships.
The title of one of Taylor Swift’s songs on her newest album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” is enough to draw many listeners in simply for its relatability: “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can).”
The urge to “fix” someone or change their behaviour — as well as the assurance that we’ll be successful — is a real phenomenon many of us have experienced in all kinds of relationships.
I doubt she’s the only one who felt able to be someone’s “saviour,” knowing just what they needed to be “fixed.” Maybe you’re dating someone who gets angry a bit too easily, and you think you know just the way to calm them down. Or there’s the acquaintance who describes themselves as “broken” and “lost,” and you’ve got just the right words to say. And maybe you do, maybe you don’t.
Either way, like Swift, you might feel like you’re the person who can “fix” a certain someone else. You may even feel a deep and strong urge to work on them … even when it only comes back to bite you.
What’s the psychology behind this, and can it work? Here’s why we do it and what else to know:
Helpful or not, feeling like we’re “fixing” someone can admittedly feel good at times.
“Oftentimes, people who develop patterns of trying to ‘fix’ others do so as a coping mechanism,” said Sydney Gomez, a licensed clinical social worker with Thriveworks in Colorado Springs who specialises in relationships, stress and self-esteem (and is a Swiftie). “These individuals may derive a sense of purpose or value from their ability to help others. At times, this is done to counteract deeper seeded feelings of worthlessness or insecurity.”
And that’s not a bad thing on the surface, she continued — but it can become an unhelpful, codependent dynamic. In other words, it can create situations in which you only feel OK when they feel OK.

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