Do you believe you can fix someone? Have you rationalized entering into a relationship with the idea that you can change someone into the person of your dreams? If you are about to do that I say “good luck.” If you’ve already done that and live with the philosophy of “I can fix you,” well, you can tell how that’s going by honestly checking in with yourself. Let’s start off with a couple of fairy tales as examples. “Rupunzel” is the first: she of the long, golden locks that the Prince uses as a ladder to rescue her from the tower dungeon that her witch mother had banished her to. The prince puts her on his white horse and off they go living happily ever after. Uh, yah, and I’ve got some land in the Mojave Desert to sell you. Second: “The Frog Prince.”A frog comes into the castle and the princess who’s been looking unsuccessfully for a Prince (no Match.com in those days) kisses the frog and he turns into an heir to the throne. This raises the question: Was the kiss enough to rid the now transformed frog of all of his warts. My answer is: Not Likely! So what happens next? Fill in the blank.
There’s always a prince and there’s always a damsel who needs to be saved. There’s always a frog and a beautiful princess who will turn the frog into royalty with just one kiss. As the great lyricist and playwrite psychologist, Stephen Sondheim demonstrated in his musical “Into the Woods,” a show about fairy tales, be careful the prince who saves you and be careful for the frog you fix ( a little paraphrasing never hurt, my therapist often said.)
It is a romantic idea to scoop up Eliza Doolittle and make her into a lady. It is a valiant goal to find a diamond in the rough and remove the crusty edges. Perhaps, in some cases, it’s successful. I mean, Rocky turned Adrienne into an assertive woman from one who was meek and nerdy and she became CEO over the Rocky boxing empire.
But really folks, can we wake up from our romantic notions? Can we grow up and face reality as we accept the person we are with, frog warts and all? But the first step is to learn how to accept our own imperfect selves.
There is an exception. Emotional rescues and personality fixes are possible under the following circumstances: When each person in an intimate partnership is conscious about what is broken or wounded in their own self and are able to communicate openly about the support they each need from their partner then a fix is possible. Fairy tale stories about fixing frogs and rescuing damsels are about feelings and behaviors that are grandiose and unconsciously motivated. Because they do not come from open and honest communication they are eventully doomed to cause more wounding and disappointment.
Below are three recordings that sing to this topic.