I had always thought that loving is synonymous with fixing. I thought that the best way to show love was by helping them become their best selves. I mean, how could you not want someone you love to be better?
I have always been a fixer. I can’t stand seeing things that are not right; like people who are not doing their jobs or situations that are not ideal. With close friends, I always try to talk them into things that could be good for them; an internship, a new job, a good university, or a valuable skill. I give tough love and call them out when they’re not being their best selves. I genuinely regret other people’s lost opportunities such as rejected interviews or missed applications. Doing so to people I love makes me happy and accomplished. And this made sense until — funny as it is, I ended up with someone who didn’t need fixing.
My boyfriend is in many ways different from myself. He is patient when I’m reckless, careful when I’m careless, and reliable when I’m forgetful. He has no toxic masculinity and cries in movies. He does not swear. He does not smoke. He doesn’t take the shoulder while driving on the highway. He is remarkably health-conscious. He is ambitious most of the time, but selfless whenever his family or friends need help. He excels in anything he does. He is responsible and dedicated wherever he is.
And yes, he is straight.
A lot of boys come into a relationship wanting to be saved, fixed, or made whole. A lot of boys begin dating with insecurity or daddy issues. A lot of boys also end up hurting their partners. These were the kind of relationship horror stories I kept on hearing about. So when I started dating this seemingly perfect guy, I couldn’t figure out what to do. All of his good qualities meant that I had nothing left to fix.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend for all that he is and more. But as someone who is always keen to work on things, dating him was akin to being a coffee intern. I felt useless and redundant. I felt moyung*. How could I possibly mend someone already so perfect?
I was lost in the first few months of our relationship. I couldn’t navigate my role as a partner. Eventually, I found myself looking at faults that seemed important at the time but are actually minor in hindsight. My boyfriend and I got tangled up in strange fights; most of which ended up with me pointing out what he was doing wrong.
I thought I was finally getting myself to work —on him. I thought I was on track to make him become the “best version of himself”. My fixation on being useful made me become mean and demanding, creating pressure on both of us. I thought that pressure was necessary while in fact, I was just being a bitch. Soon enough, the relationship quickly turned to an arduous journey. I didn’t understand why it happened, or even worse, that I was the culprit.
Looking back, I realized that I was unconsciously finding things to repair. To keep me busy. To be useful. To make me feel accomplished.
I realized that it was the worst thing I could have done as a girlfriend. Not being moyung, but being selfish. If goodness was his attraction, why did I fail to see it the moment we started dating? Did I really want entitlement so bad that I had to discredit his qualities?
I discounted his goodness so that I could have a shot at upgrading some parts of him. But of course, I thought that it was part of being a good girlfriend.
I had treated my boyfriend as a project. I wanted to work on him to make things — him, better. His changes had started to become my trophy. I had slowly forgotten to treat him as, well, a boyfriend.
I didn’t realize that all I had to do was work with him.
I now understand that loving someone means being there for their real, honest selves.
Since then, I audit my motives whenever I feel like calling my boyfriend out. Am I using his actions just to step on a pedestal, or is it truly constructive feedback?
Obviously, this does not apply to everyone. If you are in an abusive relationship — either mentally, verbally, or physically — speak up. Get out. Similarly, if you’re with someone dishonest, jealous or angry — Get. Out. But if not, then your relationship is supposed to be a safe space.
Your relationship is supposed to be:
It is not supposed to:
- have KPIs
So why turn a playground into a battleground?
Nowadays, I am usually the one being called out. And I really don’t mind. In fact, if my boyfriend is better than me in every way possible…
Then I’m the real winner here.
*moyung: useless, good-for-nothing