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Why might you be attracted to people who hurt you? What can you do about it?
Ross Rosenberg gives an answer to the first question in his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome. As for the second: you just have to leave them and then not hook up with anyone like them again.
His answer to the first question is found in his Continuum of Self Theory. It goes like this: people vary in the degree to which they are self-centered versus oriented towards others. Most fall in the middle in a kind of a bell curve distribution. The people in the extreme ends of the tails tend to find each other. A self-centered type has obvious reasons to hook up with a selfless individual. He wants someone to take care of him. The selfless individual needs someone to take care of. It seems to be a match made in heaven, until it isn’t. Then the selfless ones have all kinds of trouble convincing themselves to leave.
I have the same problem with this theory as I do of all theories that are based on personality typologies. I don’t believe personality typologies exist. People will only fit neatly into types until you get to know them, then they don’t fit at all, unless you grow to despise them, then they fit in types again. The real reason to have typologies is so that you can dismiss people.
That, of course, is the purpose of the book. It is written for all those long suffering people in toxic relationships who are too loving to ever leave. The author succeeds in turning the abusive partners into monsters: sociopaths and narcissists, so the loving partner can rid herself of them and not feel guilty doing so.
Is this the best we can do?