Ways You Can’t Save A Man

February 5, 2019  |  
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Every woman experiences it at sometime: falling madly in love with a broken man. Perhaps I don’t even like the term “broken” because it implies the person cannot be fixed, and that simply isn’t true. You yourself likely had times in your life when you felt broken, and through therapy, the support of your friends and family, and some important self-care, you were repaired. Men are capable of all of that, too. The issue is that going from the status of “broken” to “healed” while in a relationship is very difficult, and I might even say impossible. A relationship should consist of two whole people—of two people who already did their personal work, before they got together. So if you fall for a man who needs to heal from…divorce…addiction…childhood trauma…unfortunately, not only is it not your job to save him, trying to do so could harm you. Here are ways you cannot save a man.

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Making him go to therapy

If someone commits to therapy, shows up to every session, and does the homework between sessions, he can certainly see progress. So perhaps you try to usher your broken partner into the therapist’s office. You are on the right track, but you have to get off the track.

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Why it won’t work

A person cannot go to therapy by someone else’s mandate. If this guy only goes to therapy because you make him, I can almost promise you that he isn’t making progress in therapy. But even if he is, he can’t really do what he has to when he feels that he must and in a hurry for someone else’s benefit. True healing must happen at one’s own pace.

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Being his therapist

Maybe this man isn’t comfortable with therapy—an issue many women face—and so you decide to be his therapist. He feels comfortable opening up to you, you’re an emotionally intelligent person, and you care about him, so you’re happy to help.

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Why it won’t work

Like I mentioned before, a romantic relationship should consist of two whole individuals. One reason for that is that it should be a well-balanced, give and take, two-way-street relationship. You shouldn’t be your partner’s therapist. If you are, then that means this relationship is a one-way street. There is no balance. You’ll carry all the burden, and you’ll feel it quickly.

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Taking a break

So you decide that the best thing to do would be to take a break. You understand that a man may not be able to heal while in a relationship. You understand that he shouldn’t go to therapy to appease a girlfriend. So, you say, “Let’s take a break for a few months while you work things out.”

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Why it won’t work

You still put a deadline on his healing. Even if you don’t specify exactly how long the break will be, there is the understanding that everyone has expectations regarding the future of this relationship. Pausing the day-to-day of the relationship doesn’t eliminate the expectations that are still there during a break. So long as there are expectations, it’s really not a break. That’s just one of the reasons breaks never work.

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Making him answer to you

Perhaps you’ve decided that you will be his coach. You will design a regiment for him. He must do X, Y, and Z at certain times. He has to journal. He has to touch base with you throughout the day at designated times. If he follows your rules, he will refrain from “bad” behavior or from relapsing.

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Why it won’t work

The desire to change has to come from within. Just because a man follows your rules and does all the things you tell him to do doesn’t mean he has changed. If anything, it will make him resent you. The illusion of progress is just that—illusion. If you gave up on being a drill sergeant for just one day, your partner would fall back into his old habits. That’s too much pressure on you.

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Getting him into meditation

Meditation can certainly help someone get to the root of his pain. He can understand events in his life that have led him to have deep-seated, subconscious thoughts that are destructive and problematic. So you think you’ll just insist your partner meditates regularly.

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Why it won’t work

Meditation can be a wonderful supplemental tool to therapy, but someone who is truly troubled and broken will require the help of a professional. Meditation alone probably won’t be enough. So, you’re back to square one, forcing him to go to therapy, which we now know isn’t good.

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Isolating him from his friends

If his friends are bad influences, egging on his destructive behavior or enabling him in some way, you think you just need to separate him from said friends. You can ban them from your house, and forbid him from seeing them.

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Why it won’t work

If your partner has no friends in his life who are positive influences, this problem runs far too deep for you alone to address. He needs to do the personal work on his own that would motivate him to seek out better friends. Isolating the friends just addresses the symptom but not the illness.

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Getting his family involved

You think that perhaps with the support of his family, you and they together can help your partner. You get them to back you up in sending him to therapy and isolating him from his negative friends.

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Why it won’t work

Your partner shouldn’t associate you with his parents, which is exactly what he will do if you team up with his parents to coach him. This sets up an unhealthy dynamic by which it’s his family and you against him. That’s not a sustainable dynamic and it isn’t good for your romantic bond.

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Ultimately, people need to save themselves

Obviously, leaning on family and long-term friends is a part of saving one’s self. It isn’t done entirely alone. But building a romantic relationship from scratch just isn’t feasible if someone is broken—at least not if you want that relationship to stand on more than uneven rubble.

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