I’m reasonably certain that there is a happy medium between a Mr. Fix-It and a Slacker in our hetronormative culture. Sadly, I don’t seem to be finding them.
a.k.a. Man-Boy, Gamer-Boy, Sluggard, Lay-a-bout, Drone…
Now, this isn’t a complaint about gamer types who actually are responsible adults. This is about the 40 yr old still living in the parents’ house (not to take care of their elderly parent(s), but simply because they can’t be bothered to be an actual adult). Or the 30 yr old who takes you on a date to Burger King, and thinks that is a “fine dining experience.”
This kind of person can be a female just as often as a male. If as an adult, you choose not to know how to do minimum basic issues for your life, even if it means asking someone else to show you how to do it, then you are choosing to not be an adult. These are the minimum basic knowledge my father taught me, to ensure I was an independent adult:
- Changing a tire (yes, I still can, but with the chronic pain issues, it is easier to pay for it to be done).
- Changing your car’s oil (yes, I still can, but with the chronic pain issues, it is easier to pay for it to be done).
- Balancing a checkbook (and why it is important).
- Reading every contract I am supposed to sign before signing – regardless of what the person giving me the contract says, AND not ignoring the fine print (i.e. that small text or the TL:DR sections of the contract.
- Plunging a toilet. Snaking out plumbing. Tracing a leak, and evaluating if it can be fixed or must have a professional.
- Filling out a 1040EZ tax form.
- Creating, and sticking to, a budget.
- Driving a stick shift (enabling you to drive anything out there, not just something with an automatic transmission)
- Patching a hole in drywall.
- Basic cooking skills (boiling, roasting, grilling)
- Basic laundry skills, including folding and putting away.
- A minimum level of self-defense skills.
- The process of situational awareness.
- Identification of molds, fungi and bugs (not just talking about cockroaches or bedbugs here, but also centipedes, millipedes, spiders, silver fish, etc.), and how to eradicate them from where you live.
- Being able to learn the process of cause and effect. (in other words, when YOU are paying the electric bill, you may finally realize how much money you save when you turn a light off if you’re done using it.).
- How to sew a button or a rip, and when to ask for someone with greater skill to teach you.
- Politeness, courtesy and good manners. One can still rip into someone without ever being impolite or discourteous.
- Basic logic skills and the ability to make a logical and persuasive argument without devolving into personal attacks and logical fallicies.
- Establishing and managing your credit history
- The ability to learn from your mistakes and failures.
- Basic self-care, and knowing when an injury or illness MUST be referred to a medical professional.
- First Aid/CPR/Heimlich Maneuver
- Time and Resource management
- Basic knowledge of your rights and obligations of not only federal, but state, county and municipality laws.
- Cleaning effectively
- Negotiation, compromise and accountability
If you’re missing more than half of these above skills, then I’d say it is about time you contact someone you trust and respect who has the skills and willingness to teach you.
This end of the spectrum tends to garner a lot of their confidence and self-worth by how well they can “take care of” others, primarily the women in their lives. They tend to have the same kind of personality quirks that a woman who cannot say “NO” has. In essence, they don’t want to cause pain to the people they are “taking care of.”
And just like women with this particular quirk, it becomes very difficult not only to actually create a reasonable boundary of expectation, but to also stop offering to fix everything for those people. This is honestly one of the reasons I consider myself also at fault for the death of my marriage. When you believe that you are the only person who can reasonably care for the people in your life, you choose to act as if no one else — including the person you are trying to take care of — is capable of “fixing” whatever trouble they have discussed with you.
That is, of course, not what you have in mind with your willingness to help.
The problem that ends up happening, however, is that as the Mr. Fix-It (as with the ‘Yes Woman’), you collect a long list of To-Do’s which end up piling up when the needs of your own life become something you can no longer ignore.
Not only that, but when your partner or your child(ren) or your friend(s) just want a shoulder to cry on and an ear to hear, you jump immediately into “solutions mode.” Sometimes, you can step back and just listen — especially if one of those people clearly states they ONLY want you to listen, but it is very frustrating for you, because you can see the solution so clearly.
But, my dear Mr. Fix-its of the world, you can’t control the choices of others. And, in fact, you shouldn’t. It may cause you pain when someone repeatedly strikes their head on the same brick wall for the 999,999,999,999,999th time. But if you’ve warned them, you just have to stand back and hope that eventually they will learn that doing that hurts.
I have this same kind of trend in my own personality. And trust me, after some heavy therapy and some repeated discussions with my sister about control issues (personal ones, and ones that the whole family has as a shared trait), it does make me stand back and assess my choices.
If I don’t want to repeat the mistake of my first marriage in any other relationships, then I had damned well better learn how to step back and let someone learn their own lessons.
But, please, Mr. Fix-It, realize that YOU must be a priority at times too. No one expects you to be perfect. And ignoring your OWN needs means that at the worst possible time you are likely to not have the ability to deal with a crisis. Just like myself and my sister, you are heading for an explosion. Only you can choose whether that explosion is emotional/mental or it is physical (like an aneurysm, stroke or heart attack).