If you’re single, do you keep dating people who disappoint you or break your heart?
Find out why your love magnet may be set to attract a match who’ll hurt you in highlights of Hadley's radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Ross Rosenberg.
Ross is a veteran psychotherapist and author of The Human Magnet Syndrome - Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.
Hadley: A woman going through her 4th divorce told me that she wanted help picking a new husband, since she keeps choosing men who lie or cheat or rack up gambling debts, and they hide this till after they’re married. She’s one of many people who are irresistibly drawn, by what seems like an invisible magnetic force, to someone who’ll hurt them. Tell us your theory of why this happens.
Ross: We all are born with a self orientation to either care more for someone else’s needs or your own needs. We will attract our opposite match, like a magnet.
For example, a person who’s geared to care for others and fulfill their needs will be attracted unconsciously to someone who’s more narcissistic -- loving and caring for their own needs more than their partner’s needs. So the giver always is attracted to the taker.
It’s like a dance. The person who leads does best with a partner who follows. In my (self orientation) theory I explain the full range of romantic possibilities of attraction, whether you’re emotionally healthy or dysfunctional, like a narcissist, emotional manipulator or codependent.
Hadley: What if someone is on their best behavior while you’re dating, and then they behave in dysfunctional ways after you’re married?
Ross: When a person marries someone who changes, it is not just because of their partner’s issues. It’s a strong indicator you’re having your own issues. A loving, kind, patient, forgiving person will be attracted automatically to a narcissist.
If your partner all of a sudden becomes hurtful or harmful to you, then you must see a therapist to solve the codependent part of you that will keep choosing a hurtful partner.
Hadley: How does self awareness help you break that cycle?
Ross: Self awareness is an important first step. Yet it isn’t enough to help you change the pattern from your childhood, which you’ll keep repeating as an adult. You act out what you’d experienced in childhood in your adult relationships.
Hadley: Harville Hendrix coined the term, Imago, meaning a romantic partner who’ll throw salt on your childhood wounds, so you can heal them as an adult.
Let’s explain how unconscious feelings of familiarity can cause adults to attract a partner who repeats the unfulfilling patterns of your childhood caregivers, like needing to be loved by someone who can’t love you or anyone else.