Symbiotic relationships simply put, are those with no boundaries. Often found with parent and child, a mother who eats off the child’s plate or goes through their things snooping. There are no boundaries and the child accepts it and feels guilt for having a life, so the cycle continues. Also many symbiotic relationships can morph from romantic bond to a brother and sister relationship or a rescuer and victim relationship or the partners may mother/father each other in a parent and child type of bond. The boundaries are so skewed that the couple cannot function without each other. It comes to mind the image of the Ouroboros, the snake who eats its own tail, a very ancient symbol which means, that which feeds you kills you.
However the snake is constantly recreating itself. This is a more hopeful symbol than the images we get from Symbiosis which is constant feeding on each other to survive. It seems death represents change. The death of the bond creates the freedom to re-create.
Many people in symbiotic and co-dependent relationships say that they feel trapped by needy people, but perhaps they are trapped by their own neediness. You never know what’s going on in some one’s home, inside their marriage. Symbiotic and Co-dependent relationships end when one or both partners accept responsibility for their own emotional and physical well-being. Such people are then free to create healthier relationships …perhaps with each other.
From Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places by Jed Diamond
- Healthy love is fluid and dynamic. Addictive love fears change.
- Healthy love is gentle and comfortable. Addictive love is combative.
- Healthy love encourages honesty. Addictive love encourages secrets.
- Healthy love is unique. There are no ideal lovers. Addictive love is stereotyped.
- Healthy love creates life and joy. Addictive love creates melodrama and suffering.
- Healthy love is accepting the partner you have. Addictive love looks for more or better.
- Healthy love is based on your desire to be with a person. Addictive love is based on need.
- Healthy love is making yourself happy. Addictive love seeks someone to make you happy.
- Healthy love develops after you feel safe. Addictive love tries to create bonds to avoid fear.
There are 4 types of symbiosis
Mutualism- involves two species, both benefit
Commensalism- involves two species, one benefits the other is not harmed or helped
Parasitism- involves two species, one benefits the other is harmed
Amensalism- one species is inhibited or completely obliterated and one is unaffected.
For the time being we are going to discuss these types of symbiosis as they pertain to human relationships.
We all strive towards Mutualism. We strive to coexist with others in a manner that is not only enjoyable, but beneficial to both parties and neither party is harmed. Mutualism is also frequently a life long relationship between two species and weather obligate for one species or one is obligate(by necessity), the other facultative(optional). In the relationship both species are obligate, both need each other to survive. In the obligate/facultative relationship the obligate species needs the facultative species to survive, the facultative species does not necessarily need the obligate.
Commensalsim as stated previously, is a relationship between two species where one specie benefits, and the other is not harmed or helped by its presence. The extent by which the one is helped can be extended to things like housing and transportation. This sort of symbiosis in a human relationship is comparable to having a room-mate that pays rent and may or may not clean. Their presences are neither a hindrance or a help.
We are all very familiar with parasitism, one specie is harmed one benefits. A parasite is defined by its host and lifestyle, most parasites are obligate. They can invade your intestines, your blood, your integument, your brains. The harm they can cause can be minimal to severe, based on what body system they attack, and what they are going to take. A parasite can take one blood meal from its host and leave or it can latch on and continue to take blood meals for as long as they or we live. Animals and plants alike are both plagued by parasites and we are constantly as risk of becoming hosts. None of us are able to escape this in our personal dealings with other humans. Recovery from this sort of symbiotic relationship starts with getting rid of the parasite in question. In order not to be drained of our life or at the very least irritated, we need to acquire some antiparasitic, i.e. some perspective. It is also important to recognize when one is the host in said parasitic relationship, which because of its many variations can be difficult. The best thing is to go with your first instinct, if you feel as though you are being used for someone else’s benefit, it’s surprising how often that little voice in the back of your mind is correct. It does how ever take recognition of self-worth to get out of a relationship that is parasitic. Sadly so few people do.
The most destructive symbiotic relationship is Amensalism. The host is completely drained or inhibited by another specie. The larger stronger specie drains the smaller and weaker specie till it die. When speaking on relationships, the hosts that do not find themselves a way out of parasitic symbiosis become victims of amensalism. The host has been used to the extent that they are weak and unable to sustain its own life.
These relationships all represent different ways in which we as humans fight for life.
Holly Go Lightly and the Broke Offs
Sometimes someone will play along and let you think you have them under control, but the truth is no one can control anyone. It is all smoke and mirrors, illusion.
Doubt, fear and making that person think they owe us something, giving, giving, giving ourselves over to them so they feel guilty about trying to separate and individualize. There are so many forms of micro-managing.
“Remember just because someone is opinionated doesn’t mean they are controlling. A good test to tell the difference between someone who is just very opinionated or controlling is if they willingly accept or tolerate differences between you and them and don’t try to change any part of your core person or personality.”
We are free and have free choice and that is what is so cool about being human.
Claim your power!
Complete Control 1983
I love this thought. It’s just so sick and real.
Any one can get familiar to one way of living or a person or a substance or a behavior or just any thing that it becomes unhealthy addiction.
Let’s make a list:
Blow up dolls comes to mind first, drugs, alcohol, food, “caring” for others, rescuing animals, people etc..,cleaning (I wish), cussing (that is a fun one), praying (it’s possible), money and things, collecting, perfectionism, fantasy, romantic love, sex, status, Let’s not forget Facebook, checking our phones or emails a million times a day, hating ourselves, guilt, narcissism, anger, worry and plenty of whatevah is in the world.
That is just so amazing to me, but it has happened to many of us over and over.
The word “familiar” rooted in “family” really says it all. How we grow up and how we deal with living issues shapes our choices. If a child has not individuated from its parents, there will always be an unhealthy dependence not only with the parent, but with every one around. This will only stop if the healthy partner (if there is one) sets up clear boundaries.
Dependence is not a bad thing. Healthy dependence is how long-lasting relationships are shaped.
If there is not trust or respect and there is a need to hurt or get back at the other person, this is probably learned from an unhealthy experience that every thing else is measured by.
Not an easy thing to break.
Facing Co-dependence and other books on recovery are great to read, but drinking beer and reading self-help books lying on the couch was not really getting it for me.
I needed 12 step meetings. Hearing others who have the same issues and realizing there is a solution, works!
And a good 12 step counselor or therapist really helps the journey.
My friend and I are on our 47th day of 90 meetings in 90 days commitment. We don’t get to go to every meeting together, but it is so fun to have a friend on this journey when we can.
So that is how it works: The “WE” of the first step.
“WE admitted WE were powerless over _______and our lives had become unmanageable.”
(Fill in the blank as it applies to you.)
Here is a good song my meeting compadre picked on anger and road rage addiction:
“A whole lifetime geared to self-centeredness cannot be set in reverse all at once. Rebellion dogs our every step at first.”
How does one really change?
Quitting an addiction is the first step, but yet we cling to our overwhelming compulsions and desires, our anger, our resentments.
The Solution is to make a change in our attitudes and learn the meaning of humility. Quit fighting every body and every thing.
Would You Rather Be Right or Happy?
Getting right sized and practicing humility can be an incredible tool.
Humility or humbleness is a quality of being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. Rather than, “Me first,” humility allows us to say, “No, you first, my friend.”
It’s Valentine’s Day! Practice the Golden Rule and Celebrate LOVE!!
I’ve got the fare if you’re my inspector
I’ll be the luggage, if you’ll be the porter
I’ll be the parcel if you’ll be my sorter
Just for you here’s a love song
Just for you here’s a love song
And it makes me glad to say
It’s been a lovely day
And it’s okay
I’ll be the mail, you’ll be the guard
I’ll be the ink on your season ticket card
I’ll be the rubbish, you’ll be the bin
I’ll be the paint on the sign if you’ll be the tin
Just for you here’s a love song
Just for you here’s a love song
And it makes me glad to say
It’s been a lovely day
And it’s okay
OK This post is kinda long and intense, but it is the root of so many reasons people get blasted instead of dealing with their feelings.
Unhealthy relationships seem to be the bad bone in every addict’s life.
When we do our 4th steps in AA, we examine our behaviors and how we have affected others.
Al-Anon is the savior for sick relationships in the alcoholic home.
Lois Wilson creator of Al-anon (Wife of Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA) had it going on. Al-Anon heals so many situations that affect the growth of the spirit. Many others have healed using strict Codependency guidelines as well.
Have you left scratch marks in your partners when the relationship is over?
Some refuse to Let go.
I have often heard,” I don’t take partners, I take hostages” said in meetings. Very funny, but codependency can be very damaging.
Here is an article that may help.
How can you tell if you are a Codependent — with all the differing “definitions” out there? This may be difficult to realize, despite 40 years of public documentation and support on the subject; but it is quite prevalent, especially in more developed countries, and among certain (caregiving) professions, or developed as a result of religious affiliation.
Children are more codependent, of necessity; but adult Codependency is simply unpleasant — mostly for you, but also everyone around you. A good working definition of Codependence might be, ” No boundaries combined with an inappropriate caring for others (invading a boundary), and an inappropriate reliance on another’s response (invading a boundary), in a negatively reinforcing loop”. Negative Dependence.
You are a caring person, and there is nothing wrong with that; we are all interdependent. Just a little self-examination, and redirection, may have you on a more fulfilling path.
Here are many relevant clues to consider, given in no particular order; however, since codependent behaviors are as variable as humans’ collective ego defenses, this is by no means a comprehensive list. Unfortunately, Codependency is difficult to see in yourself. Awareness is a major first step to a new concept, and awareness alone often alleviates many symptoms.
It is important to note that most people exhibit codependent behaviors in certain situations, and a snapshot of most anyone might be seen below. This article is to help ”you” find ”your” Codependency, and it is not recommended that you confront or attempt an “intervention” for someone else.
Realize that codependency can take many forms: ”passive” and/or ”aggressive”; in fact, terms such as “passive-aggressive”, “controlling”, “people pleaser”, “bipolar”, “empath”, “manipulator”, “narcissist” (pathological anti-codependency), “drama queen”, and many others, are more or less descriptions of some symptoms of codependency.
Stalking is an obvious codependent behavior.
Another way to describe codependent behavior is, “feeding the behavior of an individual who is causing pain and stress to the unit as a whole. These units can be the work place, school, social clubs, church, or the most prevalent place for this behavior — the family”.
Should we depend on another, or help another accomplish common goals that are ”benefiting the whole”, is not the question but: “Are we enabling unacceptable behavior in order for us to appease that person (who is causing disruption) in order for us not be rejected, confronted, challenged, or hated by them?” It is well to avoid ”fusion” with others and ”confusion” of the individual’s status within the unit.
Examine your family relationships: Codependency is a learned behavior, most often passed down through families; you learned it as a way to cope. You did ”’not”’ do anything wrong — but, as an adult, it is an inadequate and ultimately unsuccessful way to deal in relationships. You probably feel responsible for making another person or people happy, finding it difficult or impossible to say “no”, but are unaware of your own motivating thoughts and feelings.
Examine your other relationships: Although you may be fairly “successful”, your social-life is unsatisfying to you; you are too busy with everyone else’s “problems”. Consider whether you may be uncomfortable being alone. Unfortunately, you come with ”strings” attached. You are unhappy at best, and often suicidal at worst.
Check your major options for a “frame of mind” which might be a fairly rapid-cycling between “miserable” and “giddy” (bipolar). “Contentedness” is probably a foreign state of mind for you. At parties, or other social settings, you quite often are an “odd man out”, or uncomfortably trying to control/help everyone have fun your way — do you give up, withdraw from uncontrollable persons — or duck out to escape the load music, noise and confusion? Contemplate whether you are quite driven, an overachiever. You may have an opinion about everything; you may have been labeled a “type A” personality, tending toward perfectionism (possibly manic). Hyper-awareness is common in this mode.
Consider whether you’re compulsively-seeking acceptance by your chosen audience. Do you find yourself often compulsively explaining your issues to someone when it’s unnecessary (to one who is mostly not listening, as it is irrelevant to them). If no one else is present in the same room, you may be explaining anyway, to someone two rooms away. Even your manipulative actions, often done in the open, are seeking acclaim/affirmation, expecting “they should agree; it’s the best thing–for them”.
Observe here, when no one asked for your opinion, that anyone not telling you to “mind your own business” is being kind or confused (you have subconsciously developed syntax that makes it difficult for others to back down gracefully).
Anyone unfortunate enough to have pegged you as a “sympathetic ear”, probably a stranger, is going to get more than they bargained for in your (manipulative) empathic behavior, as “Let me help (control) you”.
Another common way to describe Codependency that may bring it to light for you is that your center moves around, from yourself to the other–you often don’t stay centered. Recognize that even aggressive Codependents may have an obsequious (doormat) side. In attempting to show respect you may feel a need to be unhealthily “submissive”. You should not find yourself receding or feeling subjugated. Consider whether you are often accused of being wishy-washy or double-minded as you agree with what you disagree. You can be a chameleon. Schizophrenia can be a result of codependency.
Notice that you may be waiting for the other person to just listen: You are not seeking or allowing real discussion, but making pronouncements, and issuing edicts. While someone else is talking, you are generally just waiting (or insisting) for them to stop so you can make your next announcement.
See yourself almost demanding to “let me help you”: You may be easily taken in, have little discernment.You may have friends that you consider “projects”.
See that you rely on others for your “happiness”–if you can call it that–which for you, hinges on their agreement.
Recognize that you are almost surely a goodhearted person. People become codependent because they ”care”; which has to be better than ”not” caring; recognize that there is a better way to care.
You want what’s best; but therefore, everyone else should want what you want, in your opinion–and any other opinions may be, at best, secondary to your’s.
It may be difficult (if not impossible) to do anything for you, as you may be quick to point out deficiencies in any effort made for you ; you mean this to be constructive, but it is just sniping,”making the perfect the enemy of the good”.
You may not accept compliments or favors well. You may reject proffered gifts, only to exclaim later that you could have used that!
“I’m sorry” may rarely be heard from you, except when it is obviously necessary, and then it can come out more like, “I’m sorry you don’t understand”, but some Codependents say “I’m sorry” all the time.
You may rarely say “thank you”, because you may rarely ask for a favor right out, preferring making some deal or manipulation, subconsciously.
It may be helpful or instructive for you to practice ”asking” a friend (or maybe a stranger) for help, in any little way; just, “hey, I could use some help on…”. Follow that with a, “hey, thanks”. If this is difficult for you, take heed.
Realize that “now” is all you will ever have. You may live for the future, or think about the past, constantly. Observe how often you may think that life, for you, will be better “when…”.
Check these ways to identify co-dependency; see whether or not you often:
”Walk on egg shells”: living defensively (tiptoeing in your own house).
”Feel afraid to confront others”: avoiding conflict.
”Make poor or wrong decisions”: accommodating others (eg: in your finances).
”Tell little white lies”: to avoid anger and conflict with others.
”Feel angry with yourself”: letting others get their way?
”Blame yourself”: for the others dissatisfactions.
”Overprotect unwanted behaviors”: eg, concealing alcohol or drug use, other addictions of others.
”Get hurt emotionally”: by the others behavior.
”Feel used”: but consider that you must make that as a sacrifice.
”Are unable to say “no”.
Add observable behaviors of codependency of which you are aware.
Find it difficult to set boundaries on the other persons behavior.
Feel responsible for the lack of success or ambition of others.
Find it difficult to break a poor relationship or leave an abusive person.
Feel as if you need to do more, be more, and generally feel dissatisfied with your inability to change or control the other persons happiness.
Give too much information (as a symptom of poor boundary formation); you may have been accused of giving “too much information”.
Cause others to “walk on eggshells” around you.
*The best advice for interacting with a Codependent seems to be…don’t!
*If not interacting with them is not an option, it will help you (and them) greatly if you have a prepared answer, something like, “I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that”, or a similar innocuous answer. When they ask, “why not?”, as they surely will, it will help to recognize that you don’t owe them an answer, and a restatement, such as, “I just wouldn’t”, will often bring the Codependency to light, as they may quite likely get upset, and possibly start acting out and, while it can be difficult in this situation, do your best to avoid any snideness.
*People who must interact with a Codependent often feel “forced” into telling an offhand lie in answer to a Codependent’s manipulative question, and this should be avoided; recognize that it is completely within your rights to say, “I wouldn’t be comfortable answering that question”.
Codependents may become much happier and more socially fulfilled by changing their habits of relating to others to allow individualization. Many times, that may be all it is; habits of relating that you are no longer ego-attached to, or never were.*
If you are Codependent, but are able to grasp as much, life can become a lot better quickly, because a kind of “switch” sometimes gets thrown, mentally, and you just stop a lot of the codependent behaviors, seemingly overnight; you are now giving people enough room to be themselves, to be free, in a sense. People quickly notice, too, in like a couple of weeks. You are creating a positive feedback loop that will pay dividends. You may still notice quite a few codependent behaviors in yourself; but you’ll begin noticing them, which is a huge step as long as you don’t ignore them.
*Set boundaries and maintain them.
*Encourage the recipient of any help you’re giving, such as problem family and friends, to get help.
*Recognize that your biggest fear as a Codependent, being shunned socially, is what you are inadvertently encouraging with these types of behaviors, and that you will attract people to you when they see that you are about your business, but willing to lend a hand.
*Keeping a ”finger in everyone’s pie”, usually gets worse until the codependent recognizes the difficulty at least somewhat and begins to seek to really change (hopefully not to just withdraw or postpone). Then the codependent may continue to alleviate, mitigate the damages that have been done to one’s own life and to those lives who should be the closest/but probably are now alienated, around oneself.
*Do not revert to unreasonable caring, while never receiving permissions and certainly no real appreciation or thanks.
*The codependent-giver, though respectable, is easily drawn into dysfunctional relationships and must change or become more stuck or alienated.
*The codependent person may become cynical, bitter, withdrawn, feeling lonely, and avoided.
*One may be the most bossy, know it all; manipulative, busy-body; officious; life of the party (but not in a good way); wasteful, unreasonably caring and not correctly analyzing the situation codependent.
*Generally, one should not intervene in the lives of competent adults, but codependents do it continually.
*Do ”’not”’ get involved (codependently) by “adopting” the needy adult, homeless or unemployed who is challenged by continual bad choices or mental disability–as you would likely, quickly be in a dangerous and codependent relationship.
*Be aware that real dependence attracts codependents. The pattern can form beginning with an external major crisis or problem such as physical disability, divorce, separation, widowing, a house fire or natural disaster. Codependents are drawn to help wherever there’s real trouble because they are caring, helpful people. Watch for your own behavior when accepting help in emergencies or especially long term bad situations. If you start falling into codependent patterns, try to identify who in your support system is helping too much and blocking paths to independence. You have a right to hold your boundaries no matter what your situation is.