I Just Like A Challenge: Confessions Of A Girl Who Tries To 'Fix' Men

by Alexia LaFata

My name is Alexia LaFata, and I think I can fix men.

It's true. Behind my staunch, unapologetic feminist viewpoints, I've completely fallen for the sexist-as-fuck Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope that glorifies the idea of a woman acting as a supporting character in the life of a cynical, brooding male hero who just needs a ray of sunshine to loosen him up.

I'm a sucker for a Nick Miller in "New Girl" or a Hank Moody in "Californication" -- the jaded, somewhat dissatisfied hero who I can imagine confiding his weaknesses in me, and only me, and then relying on me to save him from himself.

It's not that I don't love these guys for exactly who they are. I most certainly do. I just feel especially valuable when I'm the woman upon whom a man relies to make his sadness and anger go away, and I think it's romantic when I'm the only person who understands him enough to be an outlet for him to vent his frustrations or to help him change, if he wants.

Deep down, I know it's irresponsible to base my love life off a stupid media trope. MPDGs like Natalie Portman's character in "Garden State" or Zooey Deschanel's character in "500 Days of Summer" don't exist on their own -- they exist as a cluster of personality traits that are used solely to help men see "the light."

They aren't real people -- they are projections of male insecurities.

But, like many media tropes that we unconsciously cram into our brains, I can't accept the fact that MPDGs are fake and that women shouldn't be responsible for fixing men.

I realize I'm probably setting women back a trillion years with this mentality, but not all feminists are perfect, right?

I guess the first step to fixing my problem is admitting that there is one. So, here are the confessions of a girl who thinks she can fix men.

I'm turned on by a challenge.

Sometimes, I treat men like projects. I know it's bad, but I can't help it. When I was 15, I think one of the main reasons I liked this guy who wasn't into relationships was that I enjoyed the idea of conquering him by way of calling him my "boyfriend."

Needless to say, we never actually dated.

I have convinced myself that if I just provide x, y and z, [insert name of dude here] will become an even better version of himself.

He will see the error of his ways and change for me, his cute, bubbly dream girl who helped him realize how wonderful life is and blah blah blah blah.

I'm motivated by what could be.

It's easy for me to see the potential in people. When I'm working on fixing a guy (ugh), I almost always do it because I've seen him exude that little bit of optimism or lightheartedness that I know exists within him and just needs some coaxing out.

Because sure, I might know how great he can be, but I want to make sure he knows, too. I'm like a coach in a little league game cheering my player to victory, only instead of a home run, I encourage self-esteem.

I often feel exhausted from romance.

If I feel like I've put a lot of energy into trying to fix someone, it's hard for me to stop trying, even if I know I need to let it fucking go. I always expect a return on my investment.

Because of this, I often leave relationships and flings feeling exhausted -- I've put so much energy into these guys that I can't stand the thought of leaving them behind to embark on another "project."

But, alas, I do anyway.

I've been tricked by mixed romantic messages.

Women get a shitload of mixed messages when it comes to guys, one of which, according to every romantic comedy on the face of the earth, is that a man will change for the "right" woman.

So, since the hopeless romantic in me always likes to believe I'm the right woman, I'll stick around and believe the overwhelming power of my love will motivate a guy to change.

I've convinced myself far too many times that men will change for me.

Or, that they're about to start changing for me.

Or... that they're on the brink of thinking about changing....

I swear! He's changing! Don't look too fast, or you'll miss him changing.

I don't realize I deserve better.

My tendency to try to fix men has severely messed me up in the romance department.

I've never thought it was necessary to find a guy who makes ME better because I've always been fine with just making HIM better. I've never focused on what he brings to the table for me, just what I can bring to the table for him.

And this is bad. Because as healthy as (I think) it is to act selflessly in your relationship, it's not healthy for that selflessness to be unreciprocated.

I'd still love to find a guy for whom I can be a ray of sunshine. But I'm starting to realize I'd also like him to do that for me.