The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us

From Ross Rosenberg’s Book:

The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.  Emotional Manipulators, Codependents and Dysfunctional Relationships

What follows is the Content Page and Introduction of my upcoming bookThe Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Let Emotional Manipulators Hurt Us.  It is about codependent narcissist relationships.  

The book is based on Ross’s popular seminar and best selling PESI/CMI training DVD entitled: “Emotional Manipulators and Codependents: Understanding the Attraction.”  To buy the training DVD  click here





“If I am not for myself,

who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself,

who am I?

If not now, when?”

Rabbi Hillel


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[1] 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[2].  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, healthy or dysfunctional, are always impacted by the type of parenting a child receives during the first five or six years of life, their formative years.  With these insights, I was better able to provide psychotherapy that would facilitate fundamental personality change.  I have helped my codependent clientele reconcile and heal their childhood trauma that I refer to as “the original condition.”  The original condition is the trauma and/or damaging circumstance that is foundationally responsible for dysfunctional adult relationship patterns.

Since the dawn of the first Stone Age kiss, men and women have been magnetically and irresistibly drawn together into romantic relationships, not so much by what they see, feel and think, but more by invisible forces.  When individuals with healthy emotional backgrounds meet, the irresistible “love force” creates a sustainable, reciprocal and stable relationship.  Codependents and emotional manipulators are similarly enveloped in a seductive dreamlike state; however, it will later unfold into a painful “seesaw” of love, pain, hope and disappointment.  The soul mate of the codependent’s dreams will become the emotional manipulator of their nightmares.

The reader will come to understand why the human desire to be understood and to love and to be loved compels us to find a romantic companion.  A human “love drive” motivates us to seek a companion who we hope will understand our struggles, validate our pain, affirm our dreams and, most of all, co-create an explosion of emotional and sexual excitement.  We can’t help it; we are naturally inclined to look for someone who will spark our deepest desires and who will join with us on a rollercoaster ride of sexual and emotional excitement and romance.

The book will explain why patient, giving and selfless individuals – codependents – are predictably attracted to selfish, self-centered and controlling partners – emotionally manipulators.  Like clockwork, codependents and emotional manipulators find themselves habitually and irresistibly drawn into a relationship that begins with emotional and sexual highs, but later transforms into a painful and disappointing dysfunctional “relationship dance.”  The dance of the codependent and emotional manipulator is paradoxical in nature in that the two opposite personalities participate in a relationship that begins with excitement, joy and euphoria, but always transforms into one that is strewn with drama, conflict and feelings of being trapped.

This book is about real-life relationships — common everyday relationships — that many of us have experienced, but wish we hadn’t.  It is also about codependents and emotional manipulators and the ubiquitous “magnetic force” that brings them together into a lasting dysfunctional romantic relationship. The reader will learn why codependents and emotional manipulators are always attracted to each other and why, despite major personal and emotional upheavals, they remain together.  This book has the capacity to change lives.

This book examines the intricacies of the dysfunctional relationship dynamic shared between codependents and emotional manipulators.  This dynamic will be illustrated through my continuum of self model, which ties together the complex web of underlying psychological forces that “magnetizes” emotional manipulators and codependents into enduring and mutually unavoidable relationships.  This book will explain the nature of these binding relationships which are typically immune to personal or professional assistance.

If there was just one purpose of this book, it would be to give hope to others who, like myself, yearned for “true love” but, instead, kept finding “true dysfunction.”  I am hopeful that the Continuum of Self Theory, as well as the other conceptual material in this book, wll help the reader to understand why so many of us fall prey to our dysfunctional instincts.  It is my hope that helping professionals, as well as the general public, will benefit from this book.  I have gone to great lengths to reduce complicated relationship dynamics into intuitive, concrete and relatable explanations.  Mental health professionals and general audiences alike should learn what specifically drives and sustains the emotional manipulator and codependent relationship.

The more accessible and practical a book is, the more it may alter the course of the lives of those who read it.  Straight-forward and simple explanations for human behavior are often more useful than those that are multileveled, complicated and unintentionally convoluted.  Of course, there are many elements of the human psyche that cannot and should not be reduced or simplified.  But why can’t we have a blueprint for the attraction process that everyone can understand?  Why make something complicated when it doesn’t have to be?  There is no rule that an advanced degree, certification or special training is needed to understand psychological phenomenon.   Sometimes difficult situations, such as dysfunctional relationship patterns, can be understood through simple explanations.  It is my hope that this book will provide readers with an accessible, practical and clear understanding of dysfunctional relationship patterns.

The concepts included in this book should have a familiar “ring” to most readers, as they describe a universal human experience.  These concepts (explanations) have already helped hundreds of my clients, and thousands of seminar participants – all of whom sought information about destructive dysfunctional relationship patterns.  I deeply desire that this book become an essential resource to those individuals who crave emotional freedom from their traumatic and emotionally burdensome pasts, as well as to clinicians who treat these clients.

This book is written for the courageous and determined souls who, through a healing and transformative psychotherapy process, may be able to finally experience true and healthy love.  Perhaps my greatest ambition for the book is that it may inspire readers to extricate themselves from their own destructive relationships, while also motivating them to develop a capacity to find and sustain a healthy and mutually satisfying loving romantic relationship.  Some readers may learn that they also have a broken “relationship picker,” which would explain why they consistently participate in unhealthy or dysfunctional long-term relationships.  Readers are likely to reach a deeper understanding of the Emotional Manipulation disorders, codependency and the relationship dynamic between the two.

I hope this book instills optimism and a sense of hope into those individuals who are ready to take a courageous leap and commence a deeply personal and emotional journey to find healthy long-term romantic relationships.  I know from first-hand experience that this is both possible and well worth the work.  Like my psychotherapy clients, I have resolved to stop suffering at the hands of my own unconscious mind.  Over the last 15 years, I have dug deep and fought hard to learn about the pervasive forces that kept drawing me into relationships that resulted in self-destruction, emotional pain and suffering.  As a result of my unshakable promise to myself to break my own pattern of “magnetic” attraction to emotional manipulators, I would eventually meet my lovely and beautiful wife, Korrel.  Freeing myself from what seemed like a relationship curse has made an indescribably positive impact on my life.

We codependents must choose to look sincerely into ourselves, come to understand our deeper, unconscious motives and heal wounds we might not even be aware.  Until then, we will likely be locked into a specific relationship pattern that results in suffering and unrealized goals, aspirations and dreams.

Lastly, I hope this book inspires and instructs mental health practitioners who desire to lead their clients in the direction of healthy, affirming and mutual romantic love.  With a more complete understanding of Codependency and the Emotional Manipulation Disorders, mental health practitioners should have greater opportunities to help their adult clients to overcome their destructive and dysfunctional relationship patterns.

Disclaimer:  this book stays true to its own continuum of self theory.  It does not attempt to give an exhaustive explanation of all the forces that result in habitual/persistent dysfunctional relationships.

At the end of the day, I am a therapist who is emotionally invested in the lives of my clients.  The following prose communicates my desire to help my clients find their “oasis” of freedom and hope.

“If hope and happiness always seem a tomorrow away,
If too many days end in sadness and a lack of fulfillment,
If your heart and your mind speak different languages,
If love of self and others seems to be beyond your grasp,
If you live in a desert of sadness and loneliness,
but seek an oasis of freedom and hope, I can help.”

–Ross Rosenberg

[1] The exact nature of these disorders/conditions will be explained in subsequent chapters.

[2] I have come to understand my parents’ shortcomings and have forgiven them.  They, too, were victims of challenging childhoods.




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