The Human Magnet Syndrome - Excerpts - page 8

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problem once they take ownership of their part in their predilection to fall in love with narcissistic dance
partners. Surprisingly, when I initially introduced the personal responsibility invoking dance explanation,
it did not induce shame amongst my clients. On the contrary, it gave them hope; lots of it! In fact, most
had a paradoxical reaction to the explanation: anxiety, anger and guilt, while evoking optimism, hope
and relief. Clients who understood that they were
both
unfortunate victims and willing participants,
were more apt to dig deep into the darker, and more remote unconscious forces that kept them
repeating the same distressing, but oft-exciting dance.
Over time, the dance metaphor evolved into a broader set of definitions, explanations and theories,
which have moved me in the direction of developing psychotherapy techniques that delivered
consistent positive outcomes.
Dancing with the Stars
Let’s talk a bit about the dancing. If you watch
Dancing with the Stars
, you know what it takes to win the
coveted Mirror Ball Trophy. As with any successful dancing partnership, each partner is experienced,
familiar, and acutely attuned to their partner’s dance style and idiosyncratic dance moves. To be
successful on the dance floor, the two partners need to be compatible on many levels while knowing
each other deeply and completely. People who are codependent tend to dance so well with narcissists
because their pathological personalities or “dance styles” complement each other. They are perfectly
matched partners. They perform magnificently on the dance floor because they instinctively expect
each other’s moves. The choreography is effortless, as if they have always danced together. Each knows
his or her role and sticks to it. However, it is dysfunctional compatibility that is the driving force behind
this dynamic dancing duo.
The narcissist dancer is the yin to the codependent’s yang. The giving, sacrificial and passive nature of
the codependent matches up perfectly with the entitled, demanding and self-centered traits of the
narcissist. Codependents are naturally drawn to pathological narcissists because they feel comfortable
and familiar with a person who knows how to direct, control and lead. The codependent’s dancing skills
are distinctly connected to their reflexive dysfunctional agility—to be attuned to the cues, gestures and
self-serving movements of their pathological narcissist partner. Codependents expertly and adeptly
predict and anticipate their pathological narcissist partner’s every step while experiencing the dance as
a positive but passive experience. Conversely, pathological narcissist dancers are drawn to codependent
partners because they are allowed to feel strong, secure, in control and dominant in an activity that
brings them much attention, praise and love. They habitually choose codependent dance partners
because they can maintain the center focus, lead the direction of the dance and ultimately determine
where, when and how the dance will proceed.
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