A parasitic relationship is a relationship in which one partner acts in a way that is detrimental to the other person, at the expense of another partner (the host) who will end up being hurt. A parasitic relationship must be distinguished from the other two forms of symbiotic relationship: mutualistic, where both partners benefit, and commensal, where one partner benefits, but the other partner is unaffected. A parasitic relationship is a harmful relationship for the host. Therefore, it is important to identify it early on, so further damage can be forestalled.
How To Know:
1. Identify the relationship – In order to know whether you are in a parasitic relationship, you must first identify the relationship. Identify the person or living thing with whom you have a relationship. A parasitic relationship is a relationship that seems to be a hassle with constant let downs and little pleasure.
2. Determine what benefits, if any, you have derived from this relationship. For example:
Are you receiving love?
Are you getting/saving more money?
Are you living more healthily physically?
Are you finding food more easily?
Are you finding shelter more easily?
Are you able to go shopping more easily?
Are you able to perform daily routines more effectively?
Is your life more meaningful as a result of the relationship?
3. Determine what harms, if any, you have derived from this relationship. For example:
Are you hurting emotionally?
Are you losing money?
Are you living more unhealthily physically?
Are you finding food more difficult to obtain?
Are you finding shelter more difficult to secure?
Are you having more difficulty shopping?
Are you finding your daily routines more difficult to perform?
Is your life less meaningful as a result of the relationship?
N.B.: this list is only an example, and may not apply to you. You must make your own list of things that are important to you.
4. Compare the two lists (benefits and harms you obtained from the relationship) to see whether overall you are benefiting or being harmed from the relationship.
5. Create a list of benefits and a list of harms derived from the relationship by your partner. This is a more difficult step, as you may not be fully aware of all the benefits and harms derived by your partner, and the extent to which each benefit or harm is important. Just try your best to make up the lists, knowing that they are estimations at best.
6. Do the same analysis you did for yourself to see whether, overall, your partner is benefiting, or is being harmed, by the relationship.
7. Interpret the results, as follows:
If you are benefiting and your partner is benefiting, you are not in a parasitic relationship (you are in a mutualistic relationship).
If you are benefiting and your partner is being harmed, you are in a parasitic relationship (you are the parasite and your partner is the host).
If you are being harmed and your partner is benefiting, you are in a parasitic relationship (your partner is the parasite and you are the host).
If you are being harmed and your partner is being harmed, you are not in a parasitic relationship (you are in a mutually destructive, or abusive, relationship).
8. Have a genuine, heart-to-heart conversation with your partner. One of the most common causes of conflicts in relationships is misunderstanding. Perhaps you have misinterpreted the facts. Perhaps some things have eluded your thinking about the relationship. Perhaps your partner is well-intentioned, but made mistakes unaware.
If you are in a parasitic relationship, take action to correct this.
1. After talking with your partner, resolve any misunderstanding, forgive, and discuss ways you can both improve the relationship, so that neither partner is harmed anymore.
2. Seek counseling and support from others if needed.
3. If the relationship cannot be repaired, look for a way out respectfully and peacefully.