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How To Stop Attracting Fixer-Upper Partners

“I’m ready to start receiving,” I told my meditation teacher.

I was always the giver in all areas of my life. Making my bosses and their companies tons of money. Being the friend everyone came to. Co-founding an academic camp for kids who couldn’t afford summer resources. Cooking dinner for boyfriends, dating immature men who would never be ready for commitment – men who didn’t have their lives together in the least.

My teacher looked at me and said, “Molly, the reason you’re not receiving is because you’re not feeling. You can’t hold space for yourself, so you keep trying to fix men. Men don’t want to be fixed; they want to provide. Let me guess – they all leave, and then it leaves you never feeling good enough for them.”

It was quite the truth she landed. I was left feeling very nailed. That thud when you know you’ve actually been seen by someone and there’s no escaping.

Yes, that was my entire experience in dating and in life. Jumping in to fix problems… for everyone else. To save the world, to do for others. Very rarely did I let anyone give me attention or support.

It was finally a boyfriend who had the courage and willingness to be vulnerable and say, “Molly, when I don’t have anywhere to put my love for you, I feel crazy.”

Space felt…daunting; creating space for someone to love me, impossible. Being with myself, scary. Being with myself while someone witnessed me in a moment of vulnerability, terrifying.

Feelings in general were hard, and there wasn’t any space in my life because I didn’t allow there to be. To create space, I needed to feel so all the things I said I wanted to receive had somewhere to actually land.

Women who find me and my relationship coaching practice all share one similar desire: healthy partnerships.

These women, very much like my younger self, also share one similar block: the ability to gracefully receive.

In order to receive, you have to open. For the good, bad, ugly.

In order to receive, you have to feel. The good, bad, ugly.

Freedom is the ability to stay open for and receive all of life.

Here are some ways to create more space to facilitate reception in your life, to stop attracting partners who only want you to give to them, and to attract partners who want to give to you.

Learn How To Say No

My teacher was going around the room doing check-ins during a weekend course while I was in my coaching training. Her attention arrived on me, and it was my turn to voice an area of my relationship I needed support in.

I said, “I’m realizing I don’t have a very willing partner. I’m not sure he’s willing to work on our relationship anymore.”

She took in my statement, paused, and delivered the opposite of what I was expecting. She asked, “Molly, do you actually like this person? Do you even want to be in this relationship?”

I was taken aback. No one had ever stopped to ask me that. For some reason, that hadn’t registered as an option. I was dating this person, so wasn’t it supposed to work out? Weren’t we supposed to figure out how to like each other?

“I don’t know…you have a good point. I’m not sure that I do, to be honest.”

I had met this man in my first personal development course. It had been so easy; he was attractive and sensitive. I really wanted it to work, but in actuality, he was kind of a pain. Everything felt like effort and took a lot of energy to negotiate and move through. I was, in fact, over it – and I was over trying so hard.

My teacher had sensed this. Sensed that part of me was trying really hard to make this work in a way that wasn’t actually my truth. I wasn’t actually fulfilled with him, but I was afraid to let go and say “no more” to this connection.

After her insight, I texted him, “I don’t think you can give me what I ultimately want and need,” and ended it cleanly, simply, honestly.

About three months later, I met the man I would later fall in love with.

We can’t receive and have the things we say we want if we’re saying yes to and allowing everything into our lives. All the “okays” or “good enoughs” block us from the real, meaningful, true things.

Start saying no. Stop avoiding the difficult, uncomfortable conversations because you’re hoping and wishing, delusionally, that the experience you’re having will change.

Start saying no to things you know aren’t serving you. To things that don’t feel good or aren’t aligned in your body. Slow down and learn what a “no” feels like and what a “yes” feels like in your internal system.

Say no when you’d normally say yes. Say no when you’d normally justify to yourself why it could be a good idea but deep down knowing you’re better off spending time elsewhere.

Saying no will create space for you to begin receiving what you’re ultimately a yes for. I can’t tell you how many times I see this with clients – ending situationships that are just “okay” and their dream partner appearing months later.

Learn How To Ask For Help

One of the best ways to strengthen your receiving muscle is to let others help you. When we let others share our burdens and help us, we’re able to get into the experience of allowing ease in . We quite literally create space that might have previously been filled with the energy and stress of trying to get everything done ourselves.

Learning to ask for help isn’t always easy. It’s humbling to realize we can’t always do it all.

It’s so vital that the people in our lives feel needed and important. That they feel appreciated for what they can offer and how they contribute. By never asking for help, we’re quite literally robbing people of the experience to be of service. To pour out and support us.

Simple things – like asking a boyfriend to come out to the car to help me with my bags, or to pick me up dinner when I had a busy day at work, or to book the hotel and handle an upcoming trip – felt terrifying and vulnerable at first. The more I slowly started to let my partners in to help me, to be of service to our relationship, the more depth we were able to create. There was more spaciousness and flow in our connection, when previously, I was trying to handle everything on my own, plus in many cases, also take care of and overhandle my partner’s life and problems.

Learn How To Stay Open

Receiving is an all-encompassing word. When we’re open and receptive, we are opening ourselves to feel everything. The good, the bad, the painful, the joyful.

We can’t selectively receive; we also can’t selectively numb. I see a lot of clients and potential clients get stuck here. Perhaps you got hurt once and closed your heart so it would never happen again. The well-intentioned protection mechanism to keep you safe from feeling pain again also blocks anything new or good from coming your way.

A teacher of mine once said, “There’s something terrifying about living with an open heart.”

I think back to that quote often. If we’re only interested in life when it feels good, we’re in for the disappointing reality that 100% of our days won’t likely feel “perfect.”

Learning to stay open, stay with ourselves, and hold the sensations of joy, boredom, discomfort, love, and pain are what will expand our capacity to receive more.

Start to notice when you check out. What are your coping mechanisms? In what ways do you try to numb yourself or close down?

What if when you felt lonely or jealous or sad or angry, you just stayed with your body? Took a breath and felt into where the sensations were occurring? What if you went for a walk, or turned on some music and danced, or called a friend?

See if you can hold the pole of feeling just a little bit longer instead of grabbing for a drink, a snack, a Netflix show.

Simple awareness and tweaks here will allow you to take more in. It will allow you to be with the sensation of someone loving you or wanting to put attention on you. It will help you lean into conflict and discomfort so you can have a more empowering experience in your relationships.

The way to stop attracting fixer-upper partners is by allowing yourself to feel and receive more. Letting the ones you love share the burden with you and not always jumping in to help them first. Learning to stay open and receive will allow for spaciousness and depth and will give you an increased level of intimacy and connection on the other side.

About the author
Go-to Relationship Coach for High Achieving Women in their 30's Follow Molly on Instagram or read more articles from Molly on Thought Catalog.

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