The Human Magnet Syndrome / The Introduction to the Book
About 30 years ago, my dad joked (or so I thought was a joke): “The soul mate of your dreams is gonna become the cellmate of your nightmares.” It takes some of us decades to realize that our parents were actually a lot smarter than we gave them credit for. What I thought was just a flippant and cynical comment would later help to define my understanding of dysfunctional romantic relationships. I would never have guessed that my dad’s off-the-cuff remark would contain so much psychological merit. Perhaps he understood that the initial wondrous feelings of joy and euphoria could transform into something more insidiously harmful and the sweetheart of our dreams might end up as a “ball and chain” locked around our ankle for the rest of our lives.
For those of us raised by psychologically healthy parents, the wondrous ‘love at first sight’ story might have actually happened to you. If so, you would be one of those fortunate individuals who, for the rest of your life, could boast about your remarkable love at first sight moment and how perfect it was and has been. However, if you were raised by abusive or neglectful parents, it is likely that you experienced the blissful love at first sight experience, but it was likely short-lived and highly disappointing.
Predictably but not surprisingly, the “perfect” lover will transform into someone that may be unrecognizable. Within a few months, perhaps even weeks, their attractive alluring traits will be replaced by a selfish and self-centered demeanor, which will take center stage in the new relationship and you will feel powerless to stop him or her.
A person, whose parents deprived them of unconditional love during their childhood, especially the first five to six years, will likely be drawn to a narcissistic romantic partner by a magnet-like force from which it will seem impossible to break free. This magnetic force, or the Human Magnet Syndrome, has the raw power to bring codependents and narcissists together in a perfect storm of love and dysfunction. The magnetic power of this dysfunctional love will keep these seemingly opposite lovers together despite their shared misery and eager hopes of changing each other. The dream of perfect and everlasting love will sadly never come to fruition. The soul mate dream will inevitably morph into the cellmate reality.
When it comes to romantic relationships, we all are indeed human magnets! I chose the title of this book, “The Human Magnet Syndrome,” because it succinctly captures the attraction dynamic of dysfunctional love. All of us are compelled to fall in love with a specific personality type that is dichotomously opposite from our own. Like a metal magnet, human magnets are attracted to each other when their opposite personalities or “magnetic roles” are perfectly matched. The bond created by perfectly matched “human magnets” is interminably powerful, binding two lovers together despite consequences or shared unhappiness. In a codependent and emotional manipulator relationship, this magnetic force will likely create a long-term dysfunctional relationship. Conversely, with healthy romantic partners, the Human Magnet Syndrome results in relationships that are empowering, affirming and mutually satisfying.
My life experience, which includes 25 years as a psychotherapist, addiction specialist, consultant, professional trainer and business owner, has taught me that we are all “human magnets,” who are irresistibly attracted to a romantic partner whose personality or “magnetic charge” is perfectly opposite, exquisitely compatible, and equally powerful as our own. I coined the term “The Human Magnet Syndrome” to help others understand the ever-present relationship force that inexorably brings dysfunctional lovers together, while rendering them powerless to break free from each other.
I developed the Continuum of Self Theory to illustrate, describe and even quantify the ever-present attraction that compels opposite personality types, such as codependents and emotional manipulators, to come together in a lasting but dysfunctional romantic relationship. The reader will learn that all potential romantic partners, healthy or dysfunctional, are “magnetically” attracted to each other and emotionally compatible as a direct result of their perfectly matched opposite self-orientation (personality). This theory accounts for the full range of relationship possibilities from healthy to dysfunctional. Through an explanation and application of the Continuum of Self Theory, the reader will learn about the ubiquitous and omnipresent “love force” that affects each and every person who desires to find the romantic partner of their dreams.
On the Continuum of Self, codependency and emotional manipulation disorder are dichotomously opposite personality types. Moreover, I suggest that we all fit somewhere on the continuum of self. This continuum measures a specific personality trait–a self-orientation. A self-orientation is defined as the manner in which we love, care for and respect ourselves and others while in a relationship. If we have an “others” self-orientation, we are more concerned with the needs of others, while placing less importance on having our own needs fulfilled. If we have a “self” self-orientation, we tend to be more preoccupied with our own needs, while ignoring the wants and desires of our loved ones.
This book was inspired by my own journey to overcome the forces that invisibly influenced my own dysfunctional relationship choices. The concepts and ideas that define this book were inspired by my attempts to discover why, as a former therapist once told me, my “relationship picker” was so badly broken. Since I never intended to be unhappy in my relationships, and greatly suffered as a result of them, I needed to identify and isolate the reasons behind my dysfunctional relationship patterns in order to change them once and for all.
Through a great deal of challenging and difficult personal work, I eventually figured out why I habitually gravitated toward harmful romantic partners. I realized that my adult relationship patterns were distinctly impacted by the manner in which my narcissistic father and codependent mother had raised me. Through this work, I connected this same developmental process to all children who were brought up by a narcissistic or Emotional Manipulator parent. I also learned that adult relationship patterns,