Thursday, 14 December 2006

Am I really a fixer?

Notting Hill Tube
Originally uploaded by juliaclairejackson.
Err, yes.

My first live-in boyfriend was gay. Although even I was not hoping to fix his gayness (which was well established before we got together), I was hoping to fix all those other things that went with it; the crying in the night, his feelings of worthlessness. I made him come out to his mum. It was horrible at the time, but I think in the long run it was the right thing to do.

And at the end, when we were both with other men, I continued to counsel him about his new relationship (it turned out he was a bit of a fixer himself and found someone even more fucked up to be with).

At one point he told me that he probably wouldn't be alive if it weren't for me. He certainly wouldn't have graduated from university without me. All good nurturing of my "fixing fetish", of course.

The boyfriend after was completely fixed and loved me to bits, and guess what, I got so bored I dumped him after about three years, and even then I had been suffering in silence for about a third of our relationship.

J, as my faithful readers will know (and those who don't, a quick dip into the archive should prove my point) is completely emotionally unavailable.

So, yes, why do I stay with men who don't actually want me? It's a pattern that started early in life; my first and biggest love was a lovely boy but he clearly didn't want to be with me, not really. I kept telling myself that he eventually would come around to it, and I guess he did, but by then I was tied up with live-in boyfriend #2 and couldn't really jump ship. By the time I did, he'd found someone else (again).

With this first love, I think he didn't want me largely because I didn't want to save him. I was wiser when I was younger, see?

He came from an alcoholised family and had way too much responsibility put on his scrawny shoulders from very early on, and I think he just sorely wanted someone to fix him, put him together right. The biggest love of his life was a nurse, and otherwise he cycled through older women and others who were destined to try to fix him. Which of course didn't work.

So maybe after him I thought that if a man was to want me, I'd have to be willing to put in some hard work and "fix" him. Although with J, I don't want to "fix" him, I don't really want him to be different.

Sure, there are things that really irritate me about him, like he leaves marks on the dishes after doing them and wants the bedroom to be warm, not cold (bedrooms should be cold! How obvious is that!!).

But on the whole, I think he's a great guy. All I want is for him to love me (and give me beautiful multicultural children and a large house by the seaside). I want him to be happy, to be well. And I actually think that if I really thought he'd be happier without me, I would leave.

At the very beginning of our relationship when I was despairing because he "wasn't ready for a relationship right now" (an look, now we're living together; this girl does tend to get her way), I called Gay Ex.

"You might as well persevere," he said. "If you give up, you'll just meet another guy who's just the same."

"Why can't I just meet someone nice and normal," I whinged. Especially upsetting at the time since J seemed so normal and nice when we first met; I couldn't believe my luck, but clearly my unconscious fucked-up guy radar got the better of me still.

"Because then you'd be bored," Gay Ex said. I remind myself of that sometimes, because I think it's true.

Plus, third time lucky. I don't feel like ever having to get used to living with a new person again, it's too much work having to fit them into your life, your family, your circle of friends. I'd rather be single. Seriously.

And, obviously, I can fix him. I know I can.


  1. Maybe your desire to fix or heal comes from somewhere in your youth. I read a book that illustrated a case about somebody that would always be involved with people that needed some kind of help; the "healing" process was rooted in his childhood, he had been the son of an alcoholic couple, and he was forced to grow up quickly, and started taking care of his parents. Suddenly, as an adult, he found himself in a recurring pattern where he would get involved with people that needed his "help" and sometimes there's nothing you can do (this case was extreme, because he was involved with an addict).

    Looking at the other side of the equation, and this is a personal experience, I discovered something very interesting. I had always been "unavailable" to my girlfriends (or let's just say, that I've been accused of that); and it turns out (and this is a remote possibility) during the 2 most significant failures I've had, I decided to open up, however, my timing was really bad (because the relationship was over, or well on it's way), and since I don't deal well with rejection, the end result was very tragic.

    I used to mistakenly think that opening up meant being rejected, hence I was very guarded or as you say "unavailable".

    I hope this sheds light in both angles.

    Or, as I always say... we can always agree to disagree :-)

  2. Nah, I think you have a fair point actually... When I was a kid, although my childhood was very happy, I had two very difficult siblings so always ended up being the "strong" one and the nice girl, who worked hard and did what was required without being told so.

    And of course people often become emotionally unavailable because of their past.. In J's case his mum got there first so no need for his early girlfriends to lay the ground work... Although of course they did and it didn't help.


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