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Chemistry & Attraction: When It’s Healthy & When It’s Not

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“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.”

~Ross Rosenberg, Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us

Our eyes are the windows to the soul. When there is powerful chemistry and attraction, the eye contact is electric and blinding, as if looking into the sun. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow, or seems to stop altogether. Butterflies in your stomach send nervous chills throughout your body, causing weak knees and light-headedness. Suddenly our minds race with excitement and we can’t sleep and eat.  Our face is stuck in a perpetual smile. You either unsuccessfully fight your revealing smile or simply can’t help grinning like a fool.

Your thought process goes haywire and your mind goes blank. You can’t remember prior conversations, you can’t put two words together, and uncensored thoughts come out vis a vis bumbled statements and Freudian slips. You have difficulty working, functioning and sleeping as your mind is permeated with thoughts of the object of affection. “Perfect” feelings about each other abound. Suddenly, sappy love songs on the radio make perfect sense.

When you are physically close, you feel the heat of connection and the pull between your energy as if there is an invisible force or “love vortex” encircling you… This electric-like love energy transfixes you on your only goal: to be close to your new love.

We all are unconsciously attracted to what is familiar—until we choose something different.  When dating, you want to make sure you are falling for a healthy partner, and not recreating old dysfunctional patterns. According to author Ross Rosenberg, all too often we fall in love with the same person, but with a ‘different face’.

A client of mine went to hell and back before divorcing her ex-husband and the father of her four children (a raging narcissist/alcoholic of the investment banker variety.) She came back for at tune-up session a year or so later. She said she knew she needed to see me again when the first guy she dated was essentially her ex-husband “with a different name and an Australian accent.” Rosenberg refers to this the “broken picker” phenomenon.

Over nearly 20 years of counseling individuals and couples, one of the most prevalent and under-discussed issues is the powerful and dysfunctional attraction between codependents (“givers”) and pathological narcissists (“takers”). Rosenberg brilliantly addresses this powerful dynamic in his highly recommended book, The Human Magnet Syndrome. Rosenberg says,

“The book explains 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.”

If we work on ourselves in therapy, recovery, coaching or other personal development programs, we will decrease the likelihood that we are unconsciously attracted to unhealthy people and relationships. 

Recognize your relationship patterns, love yourself and attract the love you deserve!


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Chemistry & Attraction: When It’s Healthy & When It’s Not

Joyce Marter, LCPC

Joyce Marter, LCPC is the Founder of Urban Balance and public speaker. You may find her at her personal website here, or you may follow her on Twitter.

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APA Reference
Marter, J. (2013). Chemistry & Attraction: When It’s Healthy & When It’s Not. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Dec 2013
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