I read’The Human Magnet Syndrome’ by Ross Rosenberg a few years ago now, and I recently re-read it as I believe books always have more to offer on the second read, and you sometimes find that the book evolves with you and has wisdom to offer you at different stages in your life.
This book resonated with me because I read it at a time when I was highly codependent, and unaware of it, and entangled in a relationship with a narcissist. Rosenberg explains why codependents and narcissists are so attracted to each other, and why they find it so hard to part when the relationship is failing. This book really helped me to comprehend what was taking place in my relationship and also empowered me.
Ross Rosenberg uses the analogy that the narcissist and the codependent engage in a dance. This dance is something that they are both used to, the steps that they take are almost predictable, and they both feel comfortable in that knowledge even though they may not be fulfilled or happy. For the first time I realised that I had the power to change the dance steps, and also that I could decide not to participate in the dance at all.
There were many things that I was not happy with in the relationship, but rather than focusing on the other person, I decided to focus on myself and the things that I could change from within. As I began to love myself more, the external situations began to change for the better. The relationships that did not change began to fall apart, and I allowed them to. I learned to accept that not everyone would appreciate that I now had boundaries in place and that I was going to put myself first. Healing from narcissistic abuse takes time and there is not a book that contains all of the answers, however you get pieces in different places that you can fit together and make a whole.
I hope you enjoy the quotes below also:
- Codependents are drawn to pathological narcissists because they feel comfortable and familiar with a person who knows how to direct, control, and lead. The narcissistic dancer is simply the yin to their yang. Their giving, sacrificial, and passive codependence matches up perfectly with their partners entitled, demanding, and self-centered nature.
- Codependents confuse caretaking and sacrifice with loyalty and love. Although they are proud of their unwavering dedication to the person they love, they end up feeling unappreciated and used. Codependents yearn to be loved, but because of their choice of dance partner, find their dreams unrealized. With the heartbreak of unfulfilled dreams, codependents silently and bitterly swallow their unhappiness. Codependents are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the possibility of ever receiving the same from their partner. They pretend to enjoy the dance, but secretly harbour feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness for not taking a more active role in their dance experience. They are convinced they will never find a dance partner who will love them for who they are, as opposed to what they can do for them. Their low self-esteem and pessimism manifests as a form of learned helplessness that ultimately keeps them on the dance floor with their narcissistic partner.
- They cannot leave their narcissistic partner because their lack of self-esteem and self-respect makes them feel like they can do no better. Being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful to bear.
- Due to unconscious, trauma-based psychological forces, codependents and pathological narcissists are almost always attracted to each other. The resulting relationship is mostly breakup resistant. Narcissists benefit the most from this situation.
- To varying degrees, all pathological narcissists are selfish, self-consumed, demanding, entitled, and controlling. They are exploitative people who rarely or selectively reciprocate any form of generosity. Pathological narcissists are only empathetic or sensitive to others when doing so results in a tangible reward for themselves and/or when it makes them feel valued, important, and appreciated. Because narcissists are deeply impacted by their personal shame and loneliness, but consciously unaware of it, they do not end their relationships. Positive treatment results are rare for narcissists.
- One moment they may seem calm and serene and deeply in love with their partner, but at the next, they may be triggered by an event that leads them to feel criticized or abandoned, which irrationally provokes an outburst of harmful aggressive rage. The perception of impending separation or rejection can lead to profound changes in the manner in which they think about themselves and others as well as their emotional stability and behavior. Whether real or imagined, a thought or reminder that they could be rejected or abandoned causes them to strike back at their romantic partner with rage and aggressive hostility.
- Most codependents are selfless and deferential to the needs and desires of others over themselves. They are pathologically caring, responsible, and sacrificing people whose altruism and good deeds are rarely reciprocated.
Which books were instrumental to you on your healing journey?