Many people (women especially) have said “I’m always attracted to the bad ones.” In Jerk Magnet: A Guide to Demagnetize, Dr. Bill Bunn shows that this is part of lifelong conditioning, and once people are able to identify these habits and their origin, they’ll by attracted to and attracted by healthier people. Far from blaming the victim, Dr. Bunn methodically lays out how these negative patterns arise, how to recognize them, and how to overcome them.
Dr. Bunn’s voice is is spirited and friendly – not so much doctorly, as a confidante wanting to help. What may be most effective for readers are the numerous case studies that Bunn provides, offering readers a feeling of comradery and empathy to help identify similar problems in themselves. Especially useful is his emphasis on early childhood and adolescent development as setting patterns that affect all of us later in life.
The book is never overly dry or dull, though it is a bit simplistic in its language – not quite talking down to the reader, but some of the information is very basic (such as describing what magnets do). However, given that some people are falling into the same traps again and again, it’s important to have some easy-to-understand instructions to stop the cycle.
Overall, the book is mainly geared towards women – and young women at that, i.e. those who are in the dating pool – and would have done better to be more universal. Men have to deal with jerks too – everyone does. Why are men attracted to bad friends, for instance. In other words, what is the driving force behind all relationships, not just romantic relationships. Bunn touches on this, but by and large Jerk Magnet is a dating manual. At that, the book excels, but as there are jerks in every wing of life, there was much further he could take his metaphor.
There is a section on men who are jerk magnets for bad women, but the book has been so female-centric at this point that men might not make it this far, which is a shame because this section is as informative as the sections aimed at women. It just doesn’t fit the framework of the early part of the book.
Likewise, the section aimed at parents who need to look for “jerk” signs in their children is enormously important and well-conceived, but again, this comes fairly late in the book. The bulk of the book is so much about dating that it suffers from some disorganization. The cover itself suggests that this is a book aimed at women, so one is left thinking that is the gist of the book until the focus expands halfway through. Obviously, dating is hugely important, and a major cause of lament about “jerks,” but there could have been more seamless integration of all of these different topics.
All that said, there is a lot to be gleaned from Jerk Magnet for most any reader. Bunn’s writing is immensely readable and informative, and readers will look at past and present habits differently after reading this book. The book will help people rewire their habits to attract and avoid the right people, as it is full of easily-digestible and highly-useful information.
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