Navigate / search

And It’s All Rob Thomas’s Fault.

“Yeah but if you explain to a new date that you’re going through a really hard time right now — like a really hard time right now — she’s either going to run the other way because she knows you’re not in a great mental state to begin a new relationship, or she’s going to cling. Big time.”

“She’ll what?”

“She’ll cling. Dote. Latch onto you like a suckling piglet at its big mama’s teat because you, my friend, will have successfully attracted a rescuer.”


And okay. Maybe that’s not exactly how the conversation went down with one of our dear friends when Justin and I had dinner with him in Panama City Beach last week, but I did use the term “rescuer.” And when I did, instant recognition flashed across his and Justin’s faces, followed swiftly by shivers of disgust.

“Yep.” I knew I had ’em. “Damaged man like you? You’re like the perfect fixer-upper — zero money down and loads of potential. All she’d need to invest is a bucket of TLC and a socket wrench.”

“I can’t stand women like that,” our friend laughed-slash-seethed. “Women who are attracted to sadness or a perceived weakness and think they have to fix it. It’s like they don’t stop. They can’t!”

“Yeah you don’t need one of those, buddy,” Justin added.

“Wait,” I said, suddenly feeling defensive. When it comes to my family or Hillary Swank or apparently all of womankind everywhere, I’m allowed to talk smack, but when someone else tries to do it, I feel the need to protect. “Maybe this kind of girl just strives to be a good listener. To help you through a tough time.”

“And that’s all well-and-good,” our friend replied, spearing a bite of steak with his fork, “but when you don’t really know someone, and suddenly she’s made it her job to make you a better person, especially when she doesn’t understand the whole situation and it’s really none of her business to begin with, it’s just…”





The guys didn’t need to finish the sentence for me to understand where they were headed. And while admittedly it’s the very thing I’d been implying when I brought it up, I couldn’t help but feel as though women with an intense urge to “rescue” a man from himself are simply misunderstood.

After all, it’s not their fault they have an inherent, estrogen-riddled need to nurture. Combine that with pop culture’s romanticization of women saving broken men from the mental anguish they bring upon themselves after suffering immense loss or abuse, and many of these women probably feel like rescuing is what they’re supposed to do. In a new relationship, that kind of intimacy could only bring them closer together, right?

I mean, Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?


Because that’s healthy.

And before that is pretty much any song written by Rob Thomas.

If I fall along the way
Pick me up and dust me off
And if I get too tired to make it
Be my breath so I can walk

If I need some other love, then
Give me more than I can stand
And when my smile gets old and faded
Wait around I’ll smile again

Shouldn’t be so complicated
Just hold me and then
Oh, just hold me again



If I must, I must, Rob. But only for you. And any other hunky rock musician or even a mediocre guitarist or even a random hipster guy on the street with supercool neckwear and you see how this is problematic.

Even I, who am not a particularly nurturing type, can get sucked into the fluffy bunny sensation of how all-kinds-of-validating it would feel to be “the girl who saved the ungettably damaged guy.” He was broken, and *I* fixed him. No one else. ME.

But the thing is, all you single ladies especially — such a relationship can only happily exist in movies and music because, in real life with real people and real feelings, the actual result would be a pitiful display of needful codependency: A man with the inability to make himself happy, and a woman with the inability to make herself happy without making a man happy.

So despite the fact that there’s something undeniably appealing about the idea of saving someone, the entire concept really just exposes your own insecurity.

In this life, I’m finally learning, we can’t depend on anyone to make us happy but ourselves. Relying on our partners or our families or our daytime sitcom reruns is wholly unfair and places all kinds of pressure on the people we love. And building a new relationship on the expectation of eventual healing and change is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

If something is broken, it’s only natural to want to fix it.

But if you want to “fix” a man, I have to agree with my dinner companions in Florida last week — stick to vasectomies. They’re emotionally cheaper and a lot less painful.


They didn’t say that.

But they may as well have.

What about you? Guys, has a woman ever tried to “rescue” you? Women, have you ever tried to “fix” a man? I’m curious whether this really happens in real life or if it’s more of a movie thing.


Thank you for reading Domestiphobia! This post might contain affiliate links. Knowing you stopped by totally validates the time I spend here, so leave a comment. Preferably a nice one. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes Instagram if you want to connect.



this is such a loaded topic, and i could probably write 1,000 word comment on it but i’ll refrain. i may be guilty of being a rescuer, but i dont look at it like that. its not a nurturing thing its more of a “i see i a problem i should try to help fix it within my reasonable capacity.” I think there’s a difference between supporting someone in a tough time and being a rescuer, but the line is finer than i ever imagined. Some people really need a kick in the pants to pull themselves out of their funk, but if they dont respond to the kick, or need way way way too many, then yes, its going down an unhealthy path and you should probably move on. sighhhhh.


This is VERY true. But also — wouldn’t you agree that supporting someone as a FRIEND and trying to rescue someone as a potential girlfriend are two different things? Trying to help a trusted friend — whether they realize they need it or not — through a tough time for unselfish reasons is admirable. But trying to “fix” someone you barely know so you can turn into a perfect girlfriend probably says more about the fixer than the fixee. Of course, there are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances, but I think when someone tries to start a relationship off this way, it usually goes one of two ways:

1) The guy is totally into it and the couple, for as long as they last, remain codependent on each other for happiness, or
2) The guy is NOT into it at all, and they never get a chance.


there is absolutely a difference between supporting a friend and supporting a new potential bf/gf. guilty of doing both. the time where i tried to rescue a dude didn’t turn out horribly but i realized he would never pick himself up, it would always be me doing the propping and the idea of THAT exhausted me. some people are where they are becaues life kicked them down recently. some people are where they are because life kicked em awhile ago and they lost faith in themselves and never got up. some people got themselves into their crap situation and blame the world for their problems. My Moral I suppose is: being a resucer to someone new its dangerous water to tread because you dont know WHY they are where they are and they may not be deserving of your heartache and energy. Its tiresome and i dont reccomend it.

But i understand how appealing it can be, becuase maybe youre tired of being single, and online dating SUUUUCKS. I’m in a relationship (unmarried) and abotu half of my friends are married and half arent. I find the married ones are far less understanding about single girl problems which can be frustrating. it seems like they forgot they were there at one point too, wondering if so-and-so would text us back (or if they were lucky they met the love of their life early and never had to deal with the crap that is dating) Some of us have to go through some CRAP before we meet anyone worthwhile. I’m certainly not picking on married folks because ultimately thats what a lot of us want, but sometimes the single folks just gotta go down the bad path and learn for themselves and maybe distract themselves for awhile with a bad boy because when it inevitably fails you will know better the next time. UNLESS THEYVE ALREADY GONE DOWN THIS PATH IN WHICH CASE YOU SHOULD PROBABLY SMACK THEM ON THE HEAD WITH HULK HANDS

Ok…. there’s that 1000 word comment i’d said i wouldnt write.


Haha! Love it.

1) I don’t think you should beat yourself up for being guilty of trying to rescue a potential boyfriend. While this post is written in a sassy tone, I PROMISE there’s no judgement.
2) I think I try so hard to be empathetic to my single girlfriends (because I’ve seen through them that pickins’ are seriously slim out there), which is why I often say things to them like this post. Because some single women want so badly to be in a relationship, they can fall prey to common situations — like the guy who “needs” to be rescued — that usually don’t end up working out. Either because he doesn’t really need or want to be rescued, or because his neediness ends up wearing them out.
3) A rescuer (especially the ones who go *looking* for someone to rescue) has a kind heart. And, like you said, if the guy is into it, that can lead to him taking advantage of her. So of course I’m not saying, “don’t have a kind heart and never try to help anyone who’s really in need,” but I AM saying that I don’t think it sets a good foundation for a romantic relationship. If you *must* help someone, help him as a friend first. See if he even needs or wants your help.

I think we actually agree here — I just worded it harshly. :)


Oh and P.S. There is a difference between a woman who is typically *attracted* to this kind of scenario, always seeking it out, and someone who really just honestly wants to help someone. :)


i agree we agree! haha. i hope you dont think i was criticizing you because i certainly wasnt offended by the post, i was mostly just stating that i’ve seen some married friends become unsympathetic towards the single ladies and guys. and yes it would be totally weird if someones “type” was a broken person, and those people probably need the hulk hands intervention


Not at all! And I know exactly what you’re talking about. :)


Oh god, I probably would have found the idea of this romantic when I was 17. Now though, it just sounds like a lot of work. I know that sounds selfish or something, but I have limited time and energy.

I get why they do it in movies though. Because really, if you had a movie about two emotionally stable people who get together and everything is fine, that would be a pretty boring movie.


It doesn’t sound selfish — it sounds smart. (And understandable about the energy thing, considering you have a baby and all.)

Good point on the movie thing. :)


This definitely happens in real life but not in the happy, healthy way it does in the movies. I feel like most of these relationships turn toxic pretty quickly. Both the boy and girl need to be happy and content in themselves before they can happily be with other people long-term. Maybe.


P.s. I’m a huge Rob Thomas/Matchbox 20 fan!


Ha, me too! He’s pretty brilliant.


Exactly. There’s something intriguing about helping someone who’s “damaged,” but usually things don’t work out the way you’d expect.

Colleen Brynn

I don’t think I have ever done this, probably because my mother raised me with the mantra “you can’t change a man” and that goes right along with “saving” him. I can kind of appreciate where these women are coming from, just as you can, but then let’s really think about it… what happens *after*?? Once the saving is done, if it really is, then what? Boredom? This can’t really make for a solid relationship…


Exactly. If the save-er had some inherent need for saving, then she’d be bored when her job is done. And if it’s never done, then it’s *never* done. And that’s like… a really long time.

Don't be shy... tell me what you think!