Everybody wants to be in a relationship that is #relationshipgoals.
It is important to understand the different types of relationships. It helps gives us insight on how people interact, how different relationships have evolved, and how to protect those sacred relationships.
I have already talked about volatile relationships. If you have not already done so, please go check it out. It describes what a volatile relationship is, the signs of a volatile relationship, how to handle a volatile relationship, and how to recover from being in a volatile relationship.
I would like to introduce a different type of relationship. Symbiotic relationships.
A symbiotic relationship is a special type of interaction between species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.
Usually when we refer to symbiotic relationships, we talk more about them as they relate to the animal world. As humans, we too are part of the animal world and I would like to directly relate symbiosis to human behavior.
Types of Symbiotic Relationships
There are three main types, mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.
Mutualism is when two species interact in a way that is positive for both. This is like a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” relationship. A perfect example of this would be like if you picked up a friend and drove to a restaurant and they paid for your food. You provided the transportation and they provided the yummy food.
Commensalism is an interaction that is positive for one species, but has no influence on the other. Just like you dropping your friend off while you were already on the way, it added no time for you, but benefitted your friend.
Parasitism is when one species survives due to the harm of another species, often called the host. Imagine your car riding friend makes you buy them dinner every time: you’re losing time, energy, and money while they benefit. There are also two types of parasites. Facultative parasites and obligate parasites.
A facultative parasite means that the parasite doesn’t need a host to survive, but can still cause damage to other species. An obligate parasite must have a host in order to survive.
How to maintain your identity while nourishing your symbiotic relationship
It is easy to get so lost in your relationship and become parasitic. Here are five ways to keep a strong sense of self identity while maintaining a loving relationship:
1. Stop mind reading!
Don’t try to fill in the blanks. You risk projecting thoughts and feelings that aren’t in any way coming from your partner. Mind reading provides a false sense of control. Be assertive and ask what your partner is thinking before you jump to conclusions.
2. Communicate like adults
When experiencing intense negative emotions, the tendency is to speak impulsively and forget that the child hidden in us is there just waiting to be able to jump out and mess around.
Be in the here-and-now. When needing to clarify or communicate important thoughts, be sure to consider all aspects of reality. Don’t black out and/or blow aspects of the situation out of proportion.
3. Have your own interests
Don’t lose the interests you liked to enjoy by yourself! These interests would give you clear sense of identity by re-confirming who you are and what’s important to you. Losing these could damage your identity.
4. Keep your values in mind
Values will work like boundaries, allowing you to engage into behaviors and take decisions that are coherent with your real self.
5. Remember your friends
At the beginning, all you need is each other, you are in a bubble of passion and love. Isolation is a trap of symbiosis as we slowly slide inwards.
Remain open to discover the world together. Your friends will be the ones supporting you when your relationship goes through the natural and healthy hiccups, they will help you to look at each other from a different perspective.
Symbiosis is risky because it develops from the need to be attached to the other, which is human nature. But, if done right, it can be the #relationshipgoals you’ve always been searching for.
Symbiotic Relationships: More Resources
Let me know how you are forming and maintaining symbiotic relationships! If you are having trouble communicating in your relationship, check out my 4 ways to Improve Communication in your Relationship.