Dear Selfless Women, This is Why we Attract Men who Need Fixing.

Via Elyane Youssef
on Feb 25, 2016
get elephant's newsletter


I used to be a fixer. I stayed in bad relationships, attracting the same type of men—men who needed to be fixed.

I know so many women in the same position. We attract cheating men, commitment-phobic men, emotionally unavailable men, emotionally damaged men, alcoholics, drug abusers, narcissists and sociopaths.

It’s like we are a magnet for men whose pieces are shattered all over the place. And for some reason, we feel compelled to put these pieces back together.

But I must admit, I have failed every single time.

I never gave myself a chance to sit back and question my motives. Instead of asking why I constantly felt obligated to pick up someone else’s broken pieces, I ran to pick them up without a second thought. Being selfless made me think that coming second didn’t matter because I was putting someone else’s worthiness first. And in the end, rank doesn’t matter, right?

I realized that the reason I was attracting these types of men was because I believed I could save them.

As selfless, thoughtful, giving women, we think we will be “that woman”—the one who will change them. We think we can turn a cheater into a loyal boyfriend. We think we can help him walk away from the drugs and alcohol. We believe we can help him get over his commitment issues and aim for a stable future with us. We trust that we can get rid of the emotional baggage that he has been carrying for years.

We attract these men because we believe they need us. And to leave them would be selfish, insensitive and ruthless.

The sad news is, we constantly blame ourselves when they don’t change. Every time they fail us, we think it’s because we failed them. Their hold on us becomes stronger; they keep us around knowing they have nothing to offer us.

We look at our own flaws and try to figure out what went wrong. It’s like we are paddling a boat that is stuck on a rock—the boat isn’t going anywhere and all we are is tired. But, I ask you as I have asked myself: why do we feel the need to help someone else get their boat back in the water?

I think the reason is that there’s a truth we must acknowledge, a pivotal reality we must see. We are attracting men who need to be fixed because it is only through these men that we can unravel this reality.

These men are here to teach us that it’s okay to be selfish.

These men are highlighting the work that needs to be done within ourselves. There is an urgent need for us to start looking after and loving ourselves. We need to stop wanting to pick up other people’s broken pieces.

It’s time for us to realize that a man’s happiness isn’t our responsibility. We deserve men who don’t need fixing, who are complete. The moment we realize we are not responsible for a man’s issues, we will keep walking past his shattered pieces.

Because a man who is worth loving won’t accept you leaning in to pick up his pieces. He knows that if you do, you’ll only hurt yourself.

I tell you, as I have told myself, to stop worrying about other people’s misery. Bring the focus back to you and attract the man you deserve.

I know it’s a tough job to break our habits, but breaking this particular pattern will save us a lot of heartache in the future. Instead of saving men, we’ll be saving ourselves.

So how do we save ourselves from men who need fixing?

1. Acknowledge these types of men. The signs, traits and behaviors are all there, we know them by heart. Once we sense a bad vibe, we must run. And no, not run to pick up the pieces—run away.

2. Ask the right question. Before asking “How can I save him?” ask, “How can I save myself?” Being selfless is a wonderful trait, however there is a thin line between selfless and settling. Realize that rank does matter and we should always come first.

3. Follow your gut. Your gut is your best friend; it tells you when something is off, so don’t stay, determined to fix things. Nothing will ever be fixed with the wrong man, not by you or any other woman.

4. Remember who you are. We know what we deserve. Learn to love and need yourself again. When we do, we won’t accept fixing anyone because we already know we are the ones who will be destroyed in the process.

And never hate the wrong man. Thank him, because if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have realized it was time for a change. He highlighted what we needed to fix inside ourselves. Because of him, we realized that we are only responsible for our own issues and happiness. Through him, we learned that it’s okay to be a little selfish.

We must thank the wrong man, because thanks to him we will be ready to meet the right one.


We Are Not Here to Fix Each Other.


Start every day mindfully:

And what to look for in “The One”:


Author: Elyane Youssef

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Oscar Keys/Unsplash



About Elyane Youssef

Elyane S. Youssef is an extraterrestrial who was given birth by Earthlings. While living on planet Earth she fell in love with art, photography, writing, traveling, and...well, pizza. She is a practicing Buddhist who's still uncovering the roots of suffering and the way out of them. Elyane finds her joy in backpacking. Besides getting on and off planes, she is in a serious relationship with words and hopes to inspire as many people as possible through them. Once her mission is accomplished here, she will return to her planet to rejoin her extraterrestrial brothers and sisters. In case you're wondering, yes, she is still willingly obsessed with Frida Kahlo. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Be happy.


25 Responses to “Dear Selfless Women, This is Why we Attract Men who Need Fixing.”

  1. Kristy says:

    And sometimes, just once in awhile, we actually fix them. Then they leave us for something they deem better. After all, who wants to be reminded they were once broken. I enjoyed your article and will pass it on to my fixer daughter.

  2. gabriel says:

    amen–well said-worthy of repeating until we get it!! big SELF love time!

  3. Laura says:

    Or maybe it’s easier to spend countless hours trying to “fix” because it’s easier than facing what we ourselves need to deal with… Often thinking once I get him thru this then he can help me achieve what I need. Only after you’ve poured every last bit of your heart and soul they move on without you… Leaving you more lost.

  4. m.w. says:

    Its called co-dependency. Try reading ‘Love Is A Choice’ by Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meier.

  5. Tatia Dee says:

    Beautifully put!
    Self Love is the Key!
    Healing is the path to good love!
    Blessings to you sharing this truth-telling message.


    Tatia Dee

  6. Ash says:

    Much needed reminder, thank you! You’re inspiring.

  7. Michele says:

    You are so, so, right. After investing 35 years into 2 partners who I thought I could “fix,” I’m so glad I’ve left that part of my life behind. I still attract these kinds of people, but I practice step #1–I recognize the signs and run in the other direction (or, run back to myself as quickly as possible).

  8. Miho says:

    Great article. It is about me! I have to print it out and put on the fridge.

  9. corey says:

    Yes, just like selfless men. You want to make a difference. You want to be appreciated. You want to be appreciated for what you give and have done. We not only attract them but we are ATTRACTED to them. We think that a person who is not selfless also can not appreciate us to our fullest, that our selflessness will go unnoticed, that we will not matter as much.

    In our youth , you are right however there is a shinning light, a silver lining in that cloud of unfulfilled relationships. We can be appreciated.

    It takes loss to appreciate the gifts. I am 50, I can now appreciate, I can now notice the superiority in women that I knew who did not need my saving. I can now appreciate and I can accept their selflessness, just plain honest love without it having to be attached to my good deed. They give naturally what I need and I give naturally what they need. I had to learn to accept it in its purity. I had to accept that I was good enough that it was because I am naturally worth it and not because they depended on me for survival. That without me they will no longer be saved. Love and appreciation does not have to be dependent on something tangible. It can just be natural. I have to choose better.

    It is not the selfish man or woman’s fault. It is who they are naturally. I chose them because I did not trust purity. It had to be purchased not just a gift. I have to choose someone who is naturally like me. Who naturally gives what I need and naturally needs what I give naturally.

  10. Shelbi says:

    Ha, People Pleasers Unite! Learning to be selfish when you have been selfless is such a shift. Thank you for lighting a path.

  11. Maggie McCombs says:

    Amen, sister!

  12. Jackanora says:

    I like this. :)
    This totally resonates with me, although I always saw it slightly differently – rather, my belief that the power of love could 'save' people, they would get sucked in by the love particles which will save the world, and they get enveloped by love and, and, and, yes -you're right, they still need to learn self-love FIRST. I guess I always cling on to this hope that by seeing love around them it will inspire them themselves to love.. but to REALLY love. A non-selfish, unconditional love…

  13. Blackangel says:

    I think the fantasy of good girl/bad boy seize to exist when women realize that bad boys are bad.

  14. Ezy says:

    Very good article. Very true

  15. Jorge Guillen says:

    Hate to be a fly in ointment but I have to completely disagree with one of premises of this blog, namely that women attract these types of men. To me it’s as ridiculous as saying woman ask to be raped.

    The truth is that both male and females are responsible for their actions and their choices. Whether it’s for committing too quickly or thinking they can change the partner.

    There is an incredible fallacy going around, and that is you can trust or rely on your feelings. And this blog, I think, is a classic case in point supporting my claim that feelings can’t be necessarily trusted.

    Attraction and affection may involve real feelings but neither have anything to do with love. Love is not a feeling but choices you make despite of how you may feel. For example, fathers that stick to jobs they hate because bills have to be paid or mothers that power on day after day despite boring housework and a lack of appreciation or stimulating human interactions. I know these examples might seem a little stereotypical and if you can’t relate put your own in their place.

    And finally I think that both individuals underestimate just how critical people’s values and morals are in determining the sort of partner you have chosen. Not that I claim this will be a great example but I know ladies that met their partners in clubs and pubs and then were surprised they were violent drunks.

    I guess what it comes down to in the end is that we are generally responsible for the choices we make. And as always, we are all responsible for our action – men, take responsibility!

  16. Tim mcardle says:

    Very simple bit it is not about gender. Do we not save the women who need saving? I don’t live in this selfish world where I suggest I am more important that the person I save

  17. Edith says:

    I think sometimes is the place we meet this type of men ;most people who need fixing would probably be found out late night in bars;if you constantly start relationships from that point maybe it’s time you try some place,parks maybe,church;I like the part of the signs are all there,true run without looking back,sometimes I think it’s better staying single than being in a bad relationship,the fear is being alone,once you fix yourself you’ll discover you are contented waiting for the right person who maybe has been fixed ..get your hands busy and the people who need fixing will avoid your path,sometimes we even attract friends who need fixing ,fixers it’s time to be alittle selfish and find your own path..stop mark timing

    • Jorge Guillen says:

      Totally agree with you Edith. Men and women alike find themselves in bad relationships often, I think, because their own low self esteem drives them into relationships, guided by this overwhelming need to be loved and validated. If only we’d had better examples of true love, not only for others but also for ourselves.

    • Jorge Guillen says:

      Dear Edith, please reconsider the idea that you have attracted these needy men. They were attracted to the caring and loving person you obviously must be. It perhaps seems like the distinction is too subtle to make any difference, but I’m sure you didn’t put out some bait to attract these fellas. To me the same applies as in the case of rape. Women neither ask for it nor necessarily attract these men in any active sense. It generally comes down to the same problem for both sexes – neither are aware of their self-esteem deficiencies and both are so blinded by their own needs that they either don’t appreciate or don’t care how their actions effect the opposite sex.

  18. Vicki says:

    I recently got told by a guy that he thought I was going to be this panacea for him. How’s that for some serious wooing? Hah. Funny thing is I didn’t get it then that I was once again in fix it mode with this relationship. And durrghh, that’s why he pursued me in this way. (We’ve been friends for years with this unrequited mutual crush it turns out). Thank you for this article though as it’s cemented my thoughts about where to with him. That’s with me moving out of fix it mode and out of potential relationship with him mode and back to bring friends. I can do that now because I’ve detached myself from all that with him now after seeing the light. So yeah, big thanks.

  19. Vicki says:

    I recently got told by a guy that he thought I was going to be this panacea for him. How's that for some serious wooing? Hah. Funny thing is I didn't get it then that I was once again in fix it mode with this fledgling relationship. He had already made himself unavailable to me soon after we got together and I just gave him space. Until it bothered me so I asked him if he wanted to return to being friends. way. We've been friends for years with this unrequited mutual crush it turns out. And durrghh, that's why he pursued me in this way. Thank you for this article though as it's cemented my thoughts about where to with him. That part of me wasn't fully listening to my knowing, as I was always making it about him and wondering what he wants out of this. That's fix it mode right there again. Of course he should've long been out of potential relationship la-la land. Yes he likes me and still wants me in his life as this panacea but I don't have to be that for him. We have already gone back to being friends and it's fine although I will certainly keep an eye out for any sign of me becoming anything more emotionally attached than that. This article helped me see things clearly as there was that minor distraction of uncertainty as to what he wanted from me. So yeah, big thanks.

  20. Lynda says:

    This is a good article, but narcissistic sociopaths aren't always just spouses/partners. Sometimes they are children. I wish there were more articles addressing elder abuse. My best friend was married to just such a man – Mr. Evil himself, and unfortunately, he cloned himself 3 times before he left. She will NEVER be free of him, as her three grown children, whom I call the "Children From Hell," abuse her emotionally every bit as bad as he ever did. Her father abused her emotionally as a child – just really cruel at times, which explains why she ended up marrying Mr. Evil. But she also has 2 siblings who have carried on where their father left off. So basically, she has 5 different individuals, at least one of whom is being abusive to her at all times, and most often, more than one at any given time. It's absolutely horrific! It is, without a doubt, the absolute WORST case of elder abuse I have ever witnessed in my life. I just wish there was something here I could show her which speaks to her situation.

  21. Sydney says:

    Thank you. I needed this!

Leave a Reply