The experience of falling in love can be indescribable. We don’t know why, we can’t explain it, but we just feel irrisistably drawn to someone. However, according to Ross Rosenberg, these magnetic attractions can allure us into sacrificing our own dreams, desires, and even freedom for what quickly begins to feel a lot less like love.
In his new book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissistic Trap, Rosenberg delves into this seductive love force to uncover what it looks like, why it happens, and how we can turn it around.
“Since the dawn of civilization, people have been magnetically and irresistibly drawn together into romantic relationships not so much by what they see, feel, and think, but by much more invisible forces,” writes Rosenberg.
Rosenberg describes these forces as a dance that both the codependent and the narcissist fall into like a familiar pattern.
“My dance metaphor idea proposed that codependents are passive dancers who feel natural and comfortable taking on the role of the follower in the relationship dance. Conversely, it explains how narcissists are active dance partners who feel natural and most comfortable taking charge or leading the dance,” writes Rosenberg.
While on a conscious level, the narcissist and the codependent feel they have met their soulmate, deeper and darker feelings of resentment, anger, frustration, and pain lie underneath – often reflecting familiar dysfunctional patterns.
“The psychological forces that bring codependents and narcissists together in long-term and often intractable relationship are unconscious, reflexive, and repetitive. When they consciously experience each other as desirable, the magnet-like, unconscious attraction forces are almost impossible to resist. The chemistry is profoundly intense, almost trance-like,” writes Rosenberg.
For codependents, the attraction can be so intense that it is experienced like an addiction, which Rosenberg refers to as “codependency addiction.”
“Like addicts who are chemically dependent, codependents compulsively seek the company of a romantic partner to numb or medicate the intense emotional pain that has followed them throughout their life,” writes Rosenberg.
Yet much of the reason we fall for romantic partners who are not good for us is because they characterize familiar, yet dysfunctional relationship patterns. Emerging from our first relationships, with our parents, these patterns lay the groundwork for what then becomes our relationship instincts.
“When in the company of a romantic interest with a matched relationship template, people instinctively experience a calm and intuitive feeling of familiarity and safety. Ironically for the codependent, this creates a mistaken assumption that these feelings will translate to the feeling of security,” writes Rosenberg.
The result is limerence, which is described as a “state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.”
How compatible we will ultimately be with our romantic partners can be measured through what Rosenberg calls the Relationship Compatibility Continuum, while how fully we express our needs in relationships is determined by our relationship orientation.
“Relationship orientations are dived into two opposite and inversely related categories: the others relationship orientation and the self-relationship orientation. The primary difference between the two is that the former focuses more on giving love, respect and care and the latter on taking it,” writes Rosenberg.
Through balancing out each other’s relationship orientations, romantic partners unknowingly maintain a state of equilibrium which is independent of relationship health or dysfunction. Our relationship compatibility, however, is not fixed.
“We are not indelibly stamped with a specific personality type or characteristics. I believe that the human spirit and the psyche have infinite possibilities and potentialities,” writes Rosenberg.
The first step toward change is understanding. While codependents have learned to sacrifice themselves in service of others, and narcissists have learned to put their own needs above others – even engaging in gaslighting, manipulation, and abuse when needed – Rosenberg maintains that self-love is the antidote to codependency.
For Rosenberg, codependency is better described as self-love deficit disorder. Beginning with attachment trauma, core shame, and moving to pathological loneliness, and addiction to relationships that support self-love deficits, a person emerges with self-love deficit disorder.
It’s opposite, self-love abundance, however, can be achieved by understanding the human magnet syndrome, understanding addiction to pathological relationships, mastering the power and control tactics of the narcissist, setting and maintaining safe boundaries, resolving unconscious trauma, transitioning from self-love deficit to self-love abundance, and finally, practicing self-love abundant relationships.
While the road from codependence to self-love abundance can take up to two years, and may meet resistance from external forces, Rosenberg notes that “often the toughest journeys are the ones that have the biggest payoff.”
Drawing largely on his own personal experiences and work with clients, Rosenberg offers an interesting take on codependents and the relationships they so often find themselves in. The Human Magnet Syndrome challenges our notions of codependence, what drives it, and how we treat it. Codependents will likely find his work eye-opening, helpful, and eminently practical in improving their relationships, and their lives.
The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissistic Trap
Morgan James Publishing
Softcover, 264 Pages