Breakup Advice: Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke – or, if it is

Don't cut yourself on the pieces of broken people

There’s not enough glue in the world …

Dr. McDonagh and I receive a lot of emails and posts at State of Anxiety from heartache sufferers who could’ve and should have completely avoided their relationship pain and melee to begin with. Why?? Because the object of their affection was broken. It’s inherent in our nature to want to ‘right the ship’ and repair what’s not working. That’s all fine. Unless what’s not functioning comes with genitalia. Then it’s always best to leave the broken pieces where you found them, and back away. There’s a time to lend a hand, and a time for self-preservation and sprinting. I speak with a stunning degree of credibility, as I was once a “fixer” myself back in the day. I saw broken women as, “Challenge accepted! Where do I sign??” when I should have yelled, “Challenge averted! Where’s the [email protected] exit?!

When a ’67 Shelby Mustang isn’t running right, you can tweak the carburetor, or replace the plugs. When a woman isn’t running right, you can’t fine tune her brain. Nor can you love and snuggle her into mental and emotional health. Dating a broken individual is akin to jumping in the deep-end to save someone from drowning. They will violently flail just before taking you down in their death grip. Even if you were (hypothetically) able to save them, you’ll incur an egregious amount of kicks, elbows, and head-butts before hoisting them to safety. More often than not, however, you’ll sink into the abyss together; your lungs filled with hair, water, and regret. As it is with dating the emotionally unstable man or woman. If you think s/he can be fixed over time, through struggle-snuggles and good advice, then it’s you who needs attention.


When someone selects a mate of this unsavory origin, they focus all efforts on the repair process, while toiling incessantly at the relationship – yet, it never seems right. Because it’s not. And, no amount of alcohol, coercion, grit, and tears will alter the outcome. The union is riddled with strife, imbalance, dissatisfaction, and unrequited love. And, like an Adam Sandler movie, it’s doomed to fail.

By the time we at State of Anxiety hear from the weary lover-turned-therapist, it’s at their point of perilous acquiescence. They’ve tried everything, to no avail. Not surprisingly, even the mental defector him/herself is telling them to “Move on. Don’t wait around. Save yourself …” while cray-cray pants tries to securely fasten their head back to their torso. Still, the misanthropic, bewildered lover insanely stays the course , assured they can make things right. That’s stinkin’ thinkin’ my friend. It would take months, years, or a lifetime of therapy to get Beezy Brokenbrain back on course. Are you a therapist?? Yes? Then you know better to date this genre. You’re not? Then call one for him/her and politely excuse yourself to the restroom to slither out the 2nd floor window. The fall will do you good.

Rather than trying to repair the person of interest, you’re far better served to fix your selection process (aka, “picker”) so that you never choose someone so emotionally stunted again. There’s a reason you chose Captain Chaos. Take some personal inventory to determine why that is. Then don’t repeat. The irony is that the crux of the problem in these types of relationships is … you. Just like it was once me. There is something internal driving you toward this self-destructive behavior.

I won’t be so bold as to predict the myriad of reasons you decided Suzy Rottenmind was worth your time and sanity. I already know the sex was good. Sex with a train-wreck always is. For me, it was more complicated. I sought emotional instability and chaos in relationships. Without it, I was bored. I thrived on the deranged. And, there’s never a shortage. Those were the only relationships I found sexually charged and rife with chemistry. Talk about bad science. When faced with an emotionally sound and stable woman, and I’d sneak out of her bed at night to crawl through the bars of the women’s correctional hospital.

I’m hoping this pattern is not indicative of your own. It took years of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for me to end my own self-destructive course. How amazing would it be to not replicate the failures of others, such as myself? Yes, that was rhetorical. I’m actually telling you not to replicate my failures.

If they’re broke, don’t fix ’em.

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