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Are You the Fixer in Your Relationships?

Ramani is wrong: narcissistic are indiscriminately and promiscuously attracted to potential sources of supply regardless of whether they are optimistic or pessimistic.

She ignorantly perpetuates the myth that narcissists are drawn only to specific types of partners who are essentially (grandiosely!) angelic: empathic, supportive, good, kind, loving, compassionate, and so on.

There is no research to substantiate this counterfactual nonsense:

These self-styled “experts” maintain people’s sense of victimhood and lack of personal responsibility for their choices probably because it is good for business: it is what people want to hear and are willing to pay for.

Are You the Fixer in Your Relationships?
Read these reminders before you rush to the rescue again.
December 23, 2020 by Elizabeth Marchetti Leave a Comment

Do you identify as a fixer in your relationships?
I’ve been there.
As a recovering fixer, I’ve run the gamut of unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships.
Even at their worst, I tried my hardest to fix things. I couldn’t let go, seeing it as “weak”.
I used to think that it was a noble thing — putting someone else’s needs before my own. I focused on cultivating my partner’s potential, and proactively solving problems in the couple ahead of my own.
So when these relationships eventually ended, l felt confused and resentful, mainly at myself. I had sacrificed a lot — and what for?
Few things are as painful and disappointing as pouring all your energies into a relationship that doesn’t work, no matter how hard you try.
So, why do some of us keep doing it?
The dark side of being a fixer
After my last relationship ended, I went through a deep self-analysis and healing process.
Clearly, if my relationships were unbalanced, I had played a part in that dynamic.
Where did this compulsive need to fix and rescue others from?
I had to get to the root of the problem. So I studied attachment styles. I read up on codependency, narcissism, and abandonment, to understand the psychology that drove my behaviour.
I invested in self-care, inner-child, reparenting and shadow work practices.
I learned that there is a dark side to being a relationship fixer.
It can be a trauma response, rooted in fear of abandonment.
The manifestations of beliefs we learned growing up: that you must fight for love because it’s conditional; and you have to prove your worth to earn respect and validation of others.
Just like some people play the victims, we are comfortable in the role of “the hero” — perhaps, we are overcompensating for a lack of self-worth and feeling needed makes us feel worthy of love and respect. It makes us feel safe and in control.
Also, chaotic relationships may feel safer and more familiar to us than harmonious ones — so we are often attracted to situations and people that challenge us, and find normal dynamics “boring”.

Does this sound familiar to you?
If you identify as a fixer, below are some useful lessons that I learned during my own healing process.
In case you find yourself slipping into fixing mode, read these reminders on why you might be doing it and what you can do to stop it.
Even if you’re a natural problem-solver, some problems are not yours to solve. Learn to say no.
As a fixer, you likely grew up feeling responsible for others’ emotions — perhaps in a dysfunctional household with unhealthy boundaries, where you were parentified and learned to prioritize others’ needs at a young age.
Fawning became your trauma coping mechanism. You became a people-pleaser who has trouble setting boundaries. Your attachment style is probably anxious and disorganized.
Now as an adult, taking on the role of the fixer helps you feel empowered and in control.
So in times of crisis, you can be found tirelessly researching, testing, and bringing new solutions to the table ahead of your partner.
You don’t mind. You dutifully make the effort because it comes naturally.
Perhaps, you don’t trust your partner to make their own decisions and think you’ll do a better job.
But remember:
By proactively coming up with solutions to a shared problem or making someone else’s problem our own, we end up being enablers rather than helpers. ⁠
You are not leaving the space and opportunity for your partner to come forward. You are not letting them make their own choices and mistakes — you are inhibiting their growth.
What to do about it
Instead of asking “what else can I do next to help?”, you might be better off learning to draw the line.
Work on reinforcing your own boundaries, instead of finding more solutions.
Learn to say no more often.
I wish I could have said: “No, I have done enough. I am unable and unwilling to do anything else. It’s up to you now” more often than: “You’re right, we can both try harder — let’s try it this way instead”.
Disentangle yourself from your partner’s problems.
Let them take the initiative and ownership more often, so they can learn independently from their experience.
Focusing on the good doesn’t cancel out the bad. Get a neutral perspective.
It’s hard to let go of someone when you are hung up on their potential and only focusing on the good.
Being an optimist means that you stay in relationships even when things are toxic — because you can’t let go of the possibility that someday, they will get better.
You often become the martyr, sacrificing yourself for the greater good of the couple. You firmly believe that you will succeed, where others have failed.
You see your suffering as a badge of honour — a guarantee of a successful future outcome together, instead of a warning sign that your relationship is no longer worth fighting for.
In fact, you may even justify your partner’s bad behaviour — when in reality, they have manipulated you into taking ownership of their problems and are shifting the blame on you.

Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy

Buy 16 books and video lectures on 3 DVDs about narcissists, psychopaths, and abusive relationships
May/20/2021, 2:39 pm Link to this post  
samvaknin Profile
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Re: Are You the Fixer in Your Relationships?

What to do about it
Ask yourself — are you settling in your relationship because deep down, you don’t think you deserve better?
Do you have to fight to be seen and heard?
Do you stubbornly continue to look for the silver linings, even when the relationship is lacking basic respect and trust?
When we are deeply embedded emotionally and into fixing mode, we can’t see the forest from the trees.
We will find ways to justify and rationalize the stress and pain we are going through.
So make sure to check-in often with your inner child, especially when you feel triggered. If the relationship is veering into an abusive territory, they will tell you when they don’t feel safe.
Journaling and speaking to trusted friends will also help you get a more neutral perspective.
Ultimately, you can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped, nor should you.
It’s not your job to show someone the difference between right and wrong, or what respect means. It’s not your duty to fix anything or anyone, even if you are capable.
The amount of pain you’ll endure for someone isn’t proportionate to your love for them.
Realize that problems aren’t always opportunities to fix what isn’t working, or to modify something in your behaviour — they can also be indicators that this relationship isn’t meant for you and that you are outgrowing your circumstances.
Chances are, you’ve done more than enough.
You shouldn’t try harder just because your partner isn’t emotionally at the same level as you, or isn’t willing to step up their game.
You don’t have anything to prove to anyone.
Being a fixer makes you more vulnerable to narcissistic abuse. Recognize the signs.
As Dr Ramani — an expert on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) — explains, narcissists are more likely to seek out optimistic people as partners.
Fixer-types are optimists par excellence.
With your can-do attitude, you are actually more vulnerable to narcissistic abuse.
Given that your pain threshold, tolerance for bullshit and willingness to help are higher than most, narcissists know they can get away with excuses, lies and manipulation more easily.
If you are being gaslighted, you might hear fake apologies like:
“Believe me, that was not my intention…”
“You should have known better than to say/do that…”
“What you are saying is not true, I only want what’s best for you.”
Narcissists test your boundaries and push you until you crack — then, they blame you for reacting.
They invalidate you and deny your reality.
They might threaten to leave over and over, but then accuse you of giving up on them when you finally call it quits.
Their words and actions never add up. It’s crazy-making behaviour.
The truth is — if they truly respected or valued you, they wouldn’t do these things or say them in the first place.
Habitually poor treatment peppered with random acts of kindness is known as intermittent reinforcement. It is an abusive tactic that keeps you locked in a trauma bond.
They piggyback on your empathy and kind nature, guilt-tripping you into staying in the relationship.
It serves narcissistic partners well to cast you as the toxic one — because they know you’ll take responsibility, where they avoid it.
Meanwhile, they dangle the carrot, tricking you into thinking that if you try a bit harder and work on yourself more, things will eventually change.
That if you would have been “more considerate” of their feelings, you would have prevented their hurtful reactions and abuse.
What to do about it
Firstly, learn to recognize the red flags. Educate yourself.
Does your partner exhibit these traits, which Dr Ramani deems “the four pillars to narcissism”?
• Lack of empathy
• Grandiosity
• A chronic sense of entitlement
• A chronic need to seek out admiration from other people and validation from other people
Sam Vaknin — an expert on narcissism and personality disorders, and author of Malignant Self-Love (one of the most highly regarded books on the topic) — describes narcissists as theatrical individuals, wildly out of touch with reality. They are actors who star in their own movies, where they are the heroes and others are the villains.
To set the stage for abuse, narcissists create a shared psychosis (folie a deux) with their victims, a narrative of “the two of us against the whole world”. Don’t buy into it.
Recognize that narcissists need fixers to sustain these codependent relationships.
They are two sides of the same coin: narcissists like to be rescued, while fixers like to rescue them because they feel responsible for others’ emotions. They also like to feel needed (so that they don’t get abandoned).
Instead of trying to fix your partner’s behaviour, fix your tendency to save them, so that you‘ll eventually stop attracting narcissistic partners and learn to exit partnerships without feeling guilty.
Ask yourself — if you treated your partner with the same carelessness with which they treated you, would they put up with it?
Ultimately, someone who is unwilling to self-reflect and recognize they are wrong cannot evolve or grow. They get to fix their behaviour if they wish to — but it’s not up to you to save them.
Also, keep in mind that NPD is a pathology notoriously difficult to cure because those who suffer from it are shame-avoidants who see themselves as perfect.
If you pull out of a relationship where you’re being disrespected, it makes you strong, not weak. It doesn’t make you less understanding or loveable.
By leaving, you’re not “giving up” on your partner — you’re actually stepping up to your worth. Don’t let anyone else trick you into thinking otherwise.
If you keep falling in love with people to fix and treat them as “projects”, it might be time to dig up your underlying motives through inner work and self-reflection.
Take the time and space needed to do so.
Whatever comes up, own it.
Heal this pattern at the root, by boosting your self-care and healing practices. Learn to give yourself unconditional love.
Cultivate your sense of self-worth outside of the couple.
Realize that the outcome of a relationship and how hard you fought to fix it doesn’t define your worth.
Stop trying to improve your relationship with your partner, and start cultivating the one you have with yourself.

Previously published on medium

Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy

Buy 16 books and video lectures on 3 DVDs about narcissists, psychopaths, and abusive relationships
May/20/2021, 2:39 pm Link to this post  

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