Redefining and Reconceptualizing Codependency

Self-Love Defict Disorder: Codependency Redefined

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, redefined "codependency" because it is an outdated term that connotes weakness and emotional fragility, both of which are far from the truth. The replacement term, "Self-Love Deficit Disorder" or SLDD, takes the stigma and misunderstanding out of "codependency" and focuses on the Core Shame and Pathological Loneliness that perpetuates it. The absence of self-love results in deeply embedded insecurities that render people powerless to set boundaries or control their narcissistic loved ones. The person with SLDD is often oblivious or in denial about their dysfunctional relationship patterns with narcissists. Admitting to it would require them to face their core shame and pathological loneliness.


Excerpts from The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap (2018)

What is Codependency?

From chapter 3: “Codependency is both a relationship and an individual condition that can only be resolved by the codependent. Many codependents are attracted to and maintain long-term breakup-resistant relationships with, pathological narcissists. 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.

While some codependents are resigned to their seemingly permanent relationship role, others actively, albeit unsuccessfully, attempt to change it. These people become preoccupied with opportunities to avoid, change, and/or control their narcissistic partners. Despite the inequities in their relationships and the consequent suffering, they do not end the partnerships. Codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings, as it manifests itself in varying degrees in most other significant relationships.”


Relationship Math

From Chapter 4: “Codependents and pathological narcissists are psychologically underdeveloped people who need each other to feel good about themselves. Alone, they are empty, lonely people who need the company of another to escape their fundamental feelings of core shame and pervasive loneliness. The codependent is conscious of these, while the narcissist successfully runs or hides from them. Alone, both will always feel incomplete, unsatisfied, and lonely. Together, they both mistake complete enmeshment and the absence of loneliness as euphoric happiness and joy.”

relationship math

This “½” plus “½” combination is the only mathematical formula that will work with these two self-love-starved and shame-based people, who depend on one another for any modicum of happiness. They will always need each other to feel whole. This relationship of two halves can never be a whole relationship, as both people lack the requisite self-love and individuation.”


The Relationship Compatibility Continuum

From Chapter 5: “Using simple graphics and math, the Relationship Compatibility Continuum explains and quantifies the unconscious and reflexive attraction between two people in a relationship. It explains why all people, not just codependents and narcissists, are predictably drawn to a certain type of oppositely attractive partner. It intuitively accounts for why so many people remain in deeply unhappy and dysfunctional relationships despite feeling lonely, frustrated, or resentful. Similarly, it explains why some people tend to repeat their dysfunctional relationship choices despite wanting something different.”


The Self-Love Deficit Disorder Pyramid

From Chapter 12: This pyramid illustrates that codependency is not the primary problem requiring treatment. Rather, codependency is, and always has been, only a symptom of foundational pathological forces responsible for it. In this vein, the pyramid linearly and hierarchically represents the progression of the problem. Beginning with attachment trauma and continuing with core shame, pathological loneliness, codependency addiction, and finally, the symptom known as codependency, the SLDD/codependency pyramid gives a 3D illustration of codependency, that is both clinically correct and intuitively accessible.

The Codependency CureTM is the much-anticipated follow-up to The Human Magnet Syndrome.

SLDD Pyramid


Codependency Personality Types

Although all codependents are habitually and instinctively attracted (and later bonded) to severely narcissistic partners, there are five codependency personality types: passive, active, cerebral, oblivious, and "anorexic" codependents. All hold tight to the belief that one day their pathological partner will realize their mistakes and finally give them the love, respect and care they so desperately want and need. It just never happens. They all try to control and manipulate their narcissis­tic partners, but they each go about it differently.

Codependency Personality Types

The creation of these codependency types helps people who normally are in denial about their codependency/SLDD to see themselves in a specific diagnostic “light.” It is impossible to heal codependency/SLDD if you don’t know what it is and how it manifests within you.

I wrote my Human Magnet Syndrome books to help people understand and identify their codependency/SLDD. For the purpose of healing and overcoming what was previously invisible and unknown to them.

Codependency or Self-Love Deficit Disorder (SLDD) is a problem of distribution of love, respect and caring, within close, and/or romantic relationships. Codependents give the preponderance of love, respect and caring (LRC), with the hopes of having it reciprocated. All codependents believe that their narcissistic partner will realize their mistakes and finally give them the LRC they want and need. It just never happens.


Are more fearful and avoidant of conflict. They disassociate from their deeply private anger and resentment through a persona of admirable empathy, compassion and generosity. They give in to the inequity of love, respect and caring. Such sacrificing martyrs never escape their below-the-surface burning rage.

The attachment trauma experience taught them that there was no benefit in fighting back, or that doing so would result in worse consequences.


They aggressively but futilely try to persuade, control and manipulate narcissists into loving, respecting and caring for them. They delusionally believe such constant surveillance and counter-aggression is justifiable and effective.

Active codependents are often not intimidated or afraid of their narcissist lover. As such, they rely on an aggressive and confrontational approach to both protect themselves and get what they need. Their controlling, antagonizing, and manipulative method is rarely effective. In fact, it often results in the pathological narcissist’s retaliation, which often harms the codependent even more.


They are the intellectual codependents. Cerebral codependents devour education and “transformational” experiences to overcome narcissistic abuse. They believe that the more information they know, they will be able to solve the problem.

This form of dissociation will never resolve the trauma and core shame that is responsible for their suffering.


They live by the “ignorance is bliss” credo. It is an effective defense mechanism for keeping them comfortable. They not only ignore or deny their problems, but they compartmentalize and rationalize them.

By purposely dissociating from the real causes of their problems, and feigning blindness, they uphold the delusional belief that what is not seen, is simply not there.


Codependency anorexia occurs when a codependent surrenders to their lifelong relationship pattern with pathological narcissists. The codependent often transitions to codependency anorexia when they hit bottom and can no longer bear the pain inflicted by their narcissist.

This is a control measure to feel protected, but they starve themselves from normal emotional and sexual intimacy. Also, as soon as the no romance “diet” ends, their insatiable “hunger” for harmful narcissists will return.

Watch this video to get a more thorough explanation of Ross’s Five Codependency Categories:

"The Dysfunctional Dance"

The inherently dysfunctional “codependency dance” requires two opposite but balanced partners: a pleasing, giving codependent and the needy controlling narcissist. Like a champion dance partnership, the dancing roles are perfectly matched: the leader needs the follower and vice versa. Or, in other words, the giver-taker dance role combination enables the two to dance effortlessly and flawlessly.

Typically, codependents give of themselves much more than their partners give in return. As “generous” but bitter dance partners, they find themselves perpetually stuck on the dance floor, always waiting for the “next song,” at which time they naively hope that their partner will finally understand their needs; but sadly, it never happens.

Codependents by nature are giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others. As natural followers in the “dance,” they are passive and accommodating to their partners. Although narcissists are typically selfish, self-centered, and controlling, when paired with a codependent, they are enabled to become champion dancers. As natural leaders and choreographers of the dance, their ambitions are focused only on fulfilling their needs and desires while ignoring the same for their partners.