I used to say I had a nightingale syndrome: that I wanted to swoop in whenever someone needed me the most and heal them back to strength. I thought this was a beautiful thing, how I wanted to love the darkness in people. And maybe it is.
But that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
I thought it’s just because I’m a forgiving soul. I understand the cracks and bruises and get off on the idea of loving someone even harder because of them. Sure, wanting to love someone at their most broken seems romantic, but it’s not.
When you love someone with the mentality that they are just a thing you can fix, you are turning them into this one-dimensional creature. You are robbing them of nuance, of complication. You are looking at them like a project. Leave that for failed Pinterest experiments. Don’t do that to another person.
My first boyfriend came during a time when I needed the fixing. I had just lost my father to cancer, and I was so hungry for anything that would redirect my pain. A boy with a cute smile and gentle hands seemed like a great solution. I’d had an enormous crush on him for an entire year prior and suddenly, he was a reality. I could lose myself in him.
I had my first kiss less than a month after my dad took his last breath. And I didn’t realize how habit forming this would be.
I would confuse loving with grief. I would confuse attraction with needing.
Loving someone in spite of flaws is great. Loving someone because you think you can save them, or they can save you, is something entirely different. It’s looking for a quick fix. It’s hoping you or they or whoever will be enough.
You can’t fix someone with your love. And you shouldn’t have to.
We’ve all got our issues. We’ve all got things that we work through and get insecure over. That’s fine and valid, and something EVERY SINGLE person goes through.
But if you enter a relationship thinking you will be their saving grace, you’re dammed from the beginning.
You can try to help people. But you can’t be responsible for saving them. You aren’t going to fundamentally change someone.
That’s something only they can do. Even if you want to. Even if you really, really want to.