Guest column: Flipping a boyfriend

(Photo by Evil Erin/Flickr)

By Sarah Brown

A couple goes through a hellacious relationship. There are multiple breakups, reunions and arguments. There is tension whenever the two are in the same room. Then a “relationship renaissance” occurs. Things start going really well. He shapes up, stops going to strip clubs and starts dressing better. Or maybe she grows up and stops throwing childish, dramatic tantrums in public. Just when you think these two kids might make it work, they break up. And he marries the next girl he dates.

It was doomed from the start. You do not end up with the one who fixes you.

Yes, some single people do need “fixed.” (Calm down, guys. We are not talking about the V-word.) This could be small things. For guys it could mean toilet seat positioning, Xbox addiction or lack of interest in how her day went. For ladies symptoms include neediness, addiction to chick flicks or use of cutesy nicknames in public.

This also could be big things. Maybe his profile mysteriously pops back up on after a year of dating. Maybe she shares intimate details of your relationship with friends. Or maybe you both play relationship games, using emotional blackmail to get your way.

The point is that these people make lousy mates. And if they are ever going to find relationship happiness, someone needs to fix them. Hence, the fixer-upper relationship. Most of you have been in one. You do not want to give up just yet, as you see potential. Some new siding, a set of shutters, some Pergo flooring and this baby just might be livable.

The problem: you have just created a hot property in a buyer’s market. To run this real estate metaphor into the ground, you have just flipped your mate.

(Above: Your sweetie before you met. Photo by Mike Tigas/Flickr.)

(Above: Your sweetie after you break up. Photo by Cordalth/Flickr.)

Why doesn’t that fixer-upper appreciate the improvements you have made and realize the gem that you are? There are a few reasons. But first, a note. It seems that women are more willing to put the time into a fixer-upper. We like projects. We might be a bit more optimistic. For the sake of argument, I am using “He” from here on out. Insert “She” if you feel the need. It goes both ways, as evidenced by all those girls I saw at the Star Wars Convention. I mean, all those girls that I read about in blogs about the Star Wars Convention.

Why the fixer and the fixee won’t end up together

1. He resents you for thinking he needed to change and, really, for knowing something that he did not.

2. You resent him for needing to change.

3. If you fixed him, you cannot trust him. You are always worried that he will break again.

As a result, if you are interested in a relationship, look for someone who has just been fixed.
Telltale signs:
1. His clothing has improved significantly. This could also mean he has a gay friend at work.
2. He has seen a film adaptation of a Jane Austen book.
3. He knows what sorbet is and has enjoyed it on occasion.

1. She owns a football jersey.
2. She went to see Sex and the City with a group of girlfriends rather than dragging a guy there.
3. You never have seen her leave an event early because she wore inappropriate shoes.

If you are lucky enough to find one of these new-and-improved girls or boys, you owe someone a debt of gratitude. Another person put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making the perfect mate, with little chance of reaping the benefits. They probably hate you, but that does not change the fact that you are better off for it.

Joe’s note: I have turned the column over to guest columnists for the rest of the month of April. Sarah Brown is a writer in Los Angeles. She gives special thanks to Marie Cantor for introducing her to the flipping-a-boyfriend phenomenon.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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