When it comes to relationships, I’m a fixer. I want to fix those around me – the friend whose life is heading off the rails, the emotionally unavailable parent, the exploitative boyfriend. I want to repair the emotional wounds of those around me.

I reach out again and again. I offer solutions and support to the point of being a nag.

Rather than saying, “I cannot fix this person because the fix they need comes from themselves”, I try again and again to be the solution. I limit my own life and happiness to provide support and to forgive time and again. I open myself up to the constant disappointment of a love that feels unreciprocated.

Partly this comes from empathy. The thought of seeing another person, one I love, struggling to be their best self, breaks my heart. I feel their pain as real as though it were my own. Being an empathetic person is one of the things I love about myself though, and it seems unlikely to change any time soon.

Partly it comes from a need to distract myself from the upsetting thoughts in my own head. If I can fix another, I can learn how to fix myself. I implore those around me to do as I say, not what I do. The thought of someone I love thinking about themself the way I do about myself scares me.

But I also think it comes from the terrifying thought of being alone, of being abandoned. I would rather cling on to a flawed love and try to make it better than accept that the flawed love is the very thing causing me pain and loneliness.

That fear of being alone causes an intense, all-consuming anxiety. I need to realise though, that it is not the job of those I am trying to ‘fix’ to fix my own fear of abandonment. I can support them to be better, but tying my own mental health to the ability of someone else to heal themselves is a path to disappointment. I myself know that finding a fix is hard. Most people are a bit broken.

My psychologist once said to me about a relationship I was trying to fix that I had two options: to accept a relationship that was likely to cause me pain sometimes, or to cut that person out of my life completely. Those are pretty shitty choices, so it’s not unreasonable that I feel pain and anxiety about it.