Symbiotic Relationships: Relationship Goals

Updated 9/15/19

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.


Symbiotic Relationships: mutualism between bee and flower
The bee and the flower both benefit from this relationship

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.


Symbiotic relationships: commensalism between shark and fish
The fish get to eat the scraps of the shark, but the shark is losing or gaining anything from the fish being there

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.


Symbiotic relationships: parasitism between tick and a human
The tick is using the human as a host

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.

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used and you can read my full disclosure here.

(23) Comments

  1. I really liked this post! I’d never thought of thinking about human relationships in the same way that we think about animal relationships but I love reading about stuff like this, and it made a lot of sense 💛 symbiotic mutually-beneficial relationships truly seem like they could be #relationshipgoals

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read! It appreciate you’re feedback! I agree with you! I hope others can pick up on this and we can all be in mutually beneficial relationships

  2. Ugh what a great post I learned something new and girl i have experienced some parasitic relationships. I think the things you mentioned like having your own interest are so important. Often as women we tend to lose ourselves in relationships because we have that nurturing instinct so yeah I loved this post so much ! Thanks you for sharing

    1. Yes! You are so right! It’s so important to not lose yourself in a relationship. Thank you so much for reading!

  3. Love how you broke it done and very very interesting babes … I love reading post like this

    1. Thank you for reading and thank you for the comment!

  4. Clever! Great examples of these relationships. Communicate, communicate, communicate. It can be one of the hardest things to do in relationship because you’re afraid of hurting the others feelings. But, you’ve gotta talk about stuff in order to keep moving. ALWAYS communicate. Loved the post!

    1. YES! I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve noticed in my own relationships that communication is make or break. I definitely try to remember to communicate better. Thank you so much for reading!

  5. Nicely written post. I appreciated the definitions of the different symbiotic relationships and how you related them to human relationships
    Very interesting, thanks!

    1. Thank you for reading and your comment 💕

  6. Great post! I love that you brought science into the picture. That is really helpful for people to picture what they have and what they’d like to aspire to! And these examples are relevant, like you mentioned, in both friendships and romantic relationships. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I appreciate your input! This is something I’ve been formulating for a while and I’m glad I was able to put it out there in a way that is easy to understand

  7. What a great post! I didn’t realise the different relationships that you mentioned but now it’s got me thinking about the relationships in my life – thank you!

    1. Thank you for reading! I’m glad I was able to get the wheels going for you 💜

  8. Such a lovely article Jackie! There are sooo many types of relationships we can have and many relationships we all juggle. I love the breakdown you gave of each ❤️

    1. Thank you for commenting! I’m looking to hopefully go deeper into different types of relationships and hopefully make it easier for people to understand

  9. Jessica says:

    Nice post and great breakdown of everything !! #relationshipgoals ❤️ Thanks for sharing!

  10. Mashibaby says:

    This is a very interesting way of looking at human relationships too!

    1. Thank you for reading and your comment!

  11. Batmom85 says:

    great post! i love everything about this post. I think it’s importat to keep your own intresrt and activities. this post is so dead on and thought provoking. Great content. loving your blog.

    1. I appreciate your input! I totally agree with you! I have learned first hand that keeping your own interests and activities is so important. 💜

  12. Alexandra Wrigley says:

    Very interesting post on relationships. I’ve been reading the different types of relationship as I went along trying to compare them to relationships I have or know of. You learn something new every day and this is a great example.

    1. I’m glad you were able to connect it to your personal relationships. Thank you for reading and commenting

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