Hi. My name is Elyane, and I was a fixer.
For many years, I felt it was my responsibility to alleviate the suffering that my date, fling, partner, or lover had felt. I seriously and wholeheartedly believed that I was the messenger sent from above to change the lives of the people I met.
While you may chuckle at this idea, I know a lot can relate. And while you think you are unconcerned, you might be a fixer without realizing it. Well, I didn’t know I was one. I thought I was just a super “nice” person who was kind enough to help the people I liked. And whenever I was told that I was a fixer, I’d lash out and feel “unconcerned.”
I clarified more than once that I was a genuinely kind person (hey, I am). The urge to prevent the people I liked from experiencing suffering was selfless and unconditional.
Ahem. My 32-year-old me sympathizes with my 25-year-old self—the truth is, she didn’t know any better.
As I always mention in my articles, I’m no life coach. But I’ve been there, and regarding this particular topic, I have been there for so many years, with different people. To put it simply, it’s not easy to recognize this issue—and it’s definitely not easy solving it.
To start off, let’s break down the word “fixer”: a fixer is someone who feels the need (more like an impulse) to help a romantic partner or lover or date.
Now, this sounds sweet. I know. But while being supportive and kind is undoubtedly beautiful, having the urge to fix someone is something entirely different. Being kind comes from our innate core—but fixing comes from our traumas. The two look extremely similar on the outside, but dig a little deeper, and you will discern the vast difference.
That said, fixers tend to attract people who do need fixing (at least this is how fixers see it)—people who have huge emotional baggage. We basically become their therapists (all that’s missing is the chaise longue).
Spoiler alert: fixers are the ones who really need fixing.
Now I feel comfortable enough to change my earlier intro: Hi. My name is Elyane, and I was the one who needed fixing.
How did I know that? I became exhausted and literally sick of it. In January 2018, I was sick of being a fixer. I was sick of wanting people to want me. So I booked a ticket to Nepal with no particular plan in mind—I just wanted to fix myself there. I cut my hair really short, and I kept writing and walking by the lake for one month until I was bold enough to have a proper, honest conversation with myself.
I kept asking myself, “Why do I keep meeting and running after people who need fixing?” One day, an inner voice told me, “Maybe they don’t need fixing. Maybe it’s not your responsibility to fix them. Maybe there’s something within you that needs fixing.” I don’t know what was that voice, but it turned my life upside down.
And I know this is going to sound like a movie, but two months later, I stopped seeking people who needed fixing, I fixed my own self, and met the man to whom I am married now. And in case you’re wondering: no one fixed the other. We’re just two beings growing together.
Ever since that mystical realization, I’ve been shedding the layers that don’t come from my innate core—lack of trust, daddy issues, emotional unavailability, fear of commitment, fear of abandonment, and so on.
What I am trying to say is, before we run to fix someone else, we might want to run toward ourselves and look into the traumas that have been dormant.
Here are 10 obvious signs you might be a fixer:
1. When you hear about their problems, you feel compelled to step in and help. Whenever you hear the person you like or are dating stating they have an unprocessed emotional issue, you feel the urge to put on the cape and save the day.
2. Not only you feel determined to fix them, you also feel confident about it. You utterly believe and know in your heart that you can fix and help them become a better person. No one can convince you otherwise.
3. And once you start fixing them, you forget about yourself. You feel absolutely focused on them that you no longer discern your own issues or worries. It feels like their whole existence is all that permeates your mind.
4. You feel like their happiness is your responsibility. You always make sure they’re happy. And in case they aren’t, you feel guilty and try your best to “fix” their bad day.
5. You think they are incapable of fixing their own problems. You see them as a kid who needs someone to mother them. So you step up and be the mother (or father) they need for guidance.
6. You want them to see the good in you. You try hard to be perfect in their eyes and avoid making any wrongdoing because you don’t want to lose them or let them think you disappointed them. Their approval of you is essential.
7. In case you part ways, you blame yourself. You think you haven’t tried hard enough and feel like a disappointment. Losing them brings you down.
8. And then you could meet someone else who also needs fixing. Ta-da. Surprise! It seems as if all the people you’re dating have some sort of problem that you need to fix. It’s a loop you can’t escape.
9. You say that you are a kind person. We have no doubt you are, but you might not like to admit (you might not even know) that you’re a fixer, so you think you’re just a selfless person who doesn’t want anything in return.
10. You feel it’s hard to establish boundaries. The word “no” could possibly be your worst enemy here. Establishing boundaries in your life and with that person in specific feels a little impossible.
Removing ourselves from this role isn’t easy—it takes a lot of inner work.
All I can tell you is that awareness and willingness are two essential things in your healing journey. If you are aware of this dysfunctional pattern, great. And if you are willing to change it, fantastic!
Now tell me, are you a fixer, and how are you working on changing that?