Ever Seen a Symbiotic Relationship?
I once saw a program on TV about a couple that had very unusual roles. The man would pretend he was a baby and the woman had no problem indulging him this is a great example of a symbiotic relationship. She would dress him up, wash him, cook for him and basically do everything for him. She was the sole breadwinner as the man would stay at home all day pretending he was a baby. When asked if she enjoyed babying her partner, she said she enjoyed it very much. This was the first time I came across symbiotic relationships. I was amazed, enraptured, and wanted to know more about them.
A few years ago, symbiotic relationships were unheard of. These days, they have become commonplace.
Symbiotic Relationship Definition
Just what is a symbiotic relationship? In simple terms, a symbiotic relationship is a relationship that is beneficial to both partners. The term is derived from the word symbiosis which refers to two organisms working together for mutual benefit and acting as one in the process.
Relationship experts say that symbiotic relationships are unhealthy because two people are forced to function as one. They say that a couple is made up of two different people who should be separate for them to express their diverse needs and individualities.
Adults have three ego states: a parent ego state, an adult one, and a child one. In a healthy relationship, both people use all of their ego states to relate with each other. This makes the relationship flexible – they can play, look after each other, and talk about serious matters.
In symbiotic relationships, the partners only use some of their ego states to connect with each other. They assume steady roles and never come out of them. People in symbiotic relationships act as if they only have one set of ego states.
For instance, one partner might use his child ego state while the other partner uses her parent and adult ego states. This means that only one partner will act childish and only one will be responsible. The responsible one has to become the caregiver and look after the other partner. They get to set the rules while the other partner assents and follows. The childish partner can also get his way from time to time by using child-like tactics.
How do Symbiotic Relationships Work?
In a symbiotic relationship, both partners know what is expected of them. Some could have perfected their roles since childhood. For example, if you were raised by one parent and learned to support them emotionally, you may carry out that role into adulthood. Performing that role as an adult allows you to do what you are naturally good at. The dependent partner might have learned from a small age not to take responsibility. When they perform this task as an adult, they stay within their comfort zone.
Most people in symbiotic relationships need to be needed. Some need to be in control in order to feel safe while others are simply scared of being alone. Others choose not to grieve over their lost childhood and opt to become the dependent ones in relationships.
A symbiotic partnership is mostly made up of a caretaker or rescuer and a dependent or needy partner. It has no room for equality or flexibility and does not allow both partners to be themselves. Each of the partners must do their best to keep the relationship going. Since the relationship does not allow for differences, it can be very stable and make the partners to become very close. Each partner knows their role and therefore feels very safe.
Couples looking to make their symbiotic relationships flexible can do so by trying out new ways of connecting. The dominant partner must give up control over the dependent partner and allow them to make their own decisions. The dependent partner must also reclaim his power and start being responsible for his own life.
If you want your symbiotic relationship to be more flexible but your partner does not, you must take steps to bring about change. You must implement change gradually and also change yourself. Your partner will object at first, but eventually they will have to adapt. Most of the time, the second partner in a relationship will change once the first partner makes it clear that they will change no matter what.
Every time you challenge the roles you carry out, you create room for more flexibility and new opportunities. If you want to bring about change, keep pushing to strengthen the role you don’t perform in the relationship, and ultimately things will become exciting between the two of you.
Symbiotic Relationship Examples
In this type of relationship, both partners have something to gain. Hypothetically, the partners are equal but in reality one holds dominance over the other. The dominant one might provide food, shelter, and care while the other performs specific tasks in the home.
In a parasitic relationship, one partner benefits while the other suffers. While this type of relationship is very common in nature, it also exists among humans. In such a relationship, one partner robs the other of time, emotional strength, money, and anything else that is valuable to them. The parasitic partner exploits the other for precious resources that help them to survive. They latch onto their partner and take maximum advantage of them. This could even be compared to a narcissistic relationship.
This is whereby one partner benefits but the other is unaffected. Many people live in a “commensal” manner. They benefit from the activities of their partners without depriving them of anything at all. In this type of relationship, one partner may obtain emotional support and other things from the other partner without affecting them.
Make Your Symbiotic Relationship Work!
Relationships are meant to be mutually beneficial. However, some relationships are consensual: one partner benefits while the other neither benefits nor loses. If you enjoy being in a symbiotic relationship, carry out your roles to the best of your ability. Symbiotic relationships work, but only if you put your heart and soul into it.
Check inside and see if you are happy in a symbiotic relationship and if you are not take steps to make the changes necessary to expand beyond your current role. You may need support of a good Life Coach or Counselor to help you stay strong and clear during your transition.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.