The Unconscious Guide for Compatibly Opposing Partners
The relationship template is a foundational and indispensable concept specifically created for the Human Magnet Syndrome theory. It illustrates and explains the unconsciously experienced and unobservable psychological mechanics that bring together oppositely compatible people into a lasting intimate relationship. In addition, it accounts for relationship preferences, rules, instructions, and acceptable levels of tolerance. Like the other Human Magnet Syndrome concepts, it applies to a wide spectrum spanning from optimal to pathological levels of relational and mental health.
Relationship templates are formed by a child's attachment experience with one or both parents. Whether healthy or dysfunctional, and anything in between, these templates coalesce into a “relationship guidance system” that consists of automatic/reflexive explanations, instructions, rules, preferred roles, and levels of tolerance. In the most basic sense, it serves as a "blueprint" and “instruction manual” that unconsciously and intuitively guides the development and maintenance of close and intimate oppositely compatible partners.
When relationship templates are oppositely aligned, such as the codependent-narcissist configuration, the fragile intimate relationship moves hastily forward into an intractable romantic relationship. This is when the opposite but well-matched "dancing couple" believe and feel they have finally arrived at a personal and relational sanctuary where loneliness and core shame are no longer nipping at their heels.
Another way to understand relationship templates is in a person’s acquiescence to the strongly felt intuitive command to either “go for it!” or “run for the hills!” The “green light,” “all is safe” intuitive directive initiates the biological, neurological, and psychological process responsible for the experience of positive chemistry that is followed by limerence. Positive chemistry accounts for a person’s extreme attraction to another person and the subsequent unwavering confidence of compatibility. Limerence is the even more euphoric, compelling, and intensely consuming “true love, love at first sight, love explosion, soulmate” experience. Both positive chemistry and limerence are discussed in detail in the following chapter.
But when templates are not similarly matched or matched with a healthier person, the magnet-like repulsion creates an automatic experience of shared discomfort, anxiety, and predictions of danger, which only subside when the person is no longer present in their life. This is when a “retreat” command is given and the experience of “negative chemistry” occurs. It is common for both individuals (but more intense for the codependent) to experience discomfort, mild to moderate anxiety, and an unwavering compulsion to protect their emotional vulnerabilities. In extreme cases, it activates a flight-or-fight compulsion that requires the person to immediately distance themselves from this potentially harmful person.
Incidentally, as much as the “go for it!” instruction metaphorically represents the mechanics of oppositely charged magnets, the “retreat!” version is the two similarly charged but repelling magnets.
Matched relationship templates are responsible for excitement-laced experience of extreme attraction, perfect compatibility, and a consequent driving and compelling need to invite the person into one’s deepest and most private emotional space. The person feels “safe” when the new love interest’s personality type feels familiar. Such familiarity allows each person to relax, as they intuitively and consciously understand that all of their previous relationship experiences prepared them to know, understand, and be adept with a person similar to their new love interest. In other words, the experience of familiarity equates with what they know as their “normal.”
In psychodynamic terms, the relationship template unconsciously compels a person to gravitate toward an attractive and seemingly safe person. The emotional energy of their once-traumatized child-self, who needed to be repressed or blocked from memory, directs the attraction and early courtship process. The deeply buried or "frozen" trauma child can only communicate to their adult self through what people refer to as "intuition," "gut feelings," and by uncomfortable and often painful reflexive somatic/physical (body) responses. An example of the relationship template's "safe" bodily messages are butterflies in the stomach or an exciting tightness in one's chest or abdomen. The template's "danger and run" message may manifest as nausea, acute anxiety, or pain in one's back or neck.
ABOUT ROSS ROSENBERG, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC