Everyone dreams of finding “the second half” that would always be by our side, support, and love us. But sometimes, the desire for a too strong connection may ruin a relationship. This connection is called symbiosis.
What is it?
In the psychological realm, symbiosis is a connection between two people, usually a mother and a child, who need each other. At first, there appears an emotional unity of a mother and a child, which predetermines the further development of our consciousness and personality as well. In its psychological sense, the word “symbiosis” is a definite type of union, i.e., co-influence and co-dependence on another person, in which each part is deprived of their own individuality.
Sometimes, it is difficult to define symbiosis in families as a serious problem because it supports the illusion “We are one big happy family. Yes, there are contradictions, but they are temporary.”
Once such model of relationships was considered a healthy one. Nevertheless, as soon as we realize an important need for psychological birth and personal independence, symbiosis is to be perceived as a dysfunctional form of relationships.
The majority of people want close relationships with another person. We want to make the life of a beloved person better, are ready to help them in a difficult situation, support, and approve of the things they do. Such a merging appeals to our basic need for support and love.
In a partnership, people always refuse a part of their individuality to create some mutual space of interests and emotions. It is a natural and favorable process. And it remains such until one or both partners lose their individuality almost completely.
In this case, we need too much fusion: we need too much support and approval, too much partner’s time, too much require that the relationship plays the first role for them, etc. In other words, we are trying to establish symbiosis in our relationship.
How does symbiosis look like in man-woman relationship?
It is a desire of one or, less often, both partners, to create exclusive emotional-meaningful space in a relationship. It is a desire for constant being together with a partner, merge with them both emotionally and physically, think and feel the same way.
Is it so bad? Actually, it is, because symbiosis inevitably leads to the loss of partners’ individuality and uniqueness. Imagine a man and woman walking side by side, their legs connected with a rope. Yes, they are walking together, their bond is very tight, but do they feel comfortable walking like that? The rope is likely to tear off sooner or later. As well as the relationship.
Typically, men rebel against women’s desire to exist in symbiotic relationships since they are not invaded by sentimental images. Once a woman too fiercely enters man’s personal space, he reacts negatively as he doesn’t want to lose his independence.
The situation when a woman “lives for a man” is perceived not as a gift but as a tiresome bond. Sometimes, a man subconsciously tries to escape from this situation by engaging into other relationships, feeling guilty at the same time.
As for men, they are more demanding and strict in their desire for symbiosis. They try to change their partner, to make her quit job, for example, stop communicating with friends, forget about hobbies, change her style. Often, men would apply such methods as manipulation, economical and psychological pressure, appeals to the feelings of guilt and duty. Permanent control is present, too: “Where have you been? With whom? Why so long?”
Possibly, at the first stage of a relationship and marriage, this situation won’t be a burden to a woman as love is still passionate. But every person is not created exclusively for the partner. A person has to find themselves in several spheres, such as professional activity, friendship, communication with relatives, hobby.
Only in this case, we perceive ourselves as self-sufficient interesting personalities. What if your partner requires you to reject everything, stay with them only? Most likely, you will feel uncomfortable and try to escape.
Remain an individual and let your partner the same!
Symbiosis is a constant chase, an attempt to grasp the partner and not let them go. But it has nothing to do with “eternal love,” “soul intimacy,” or “fusion of souls,” as those aiming for symbiosis imagine. This is the case when the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
While being in symbiosis, you have the illusions that
…you can read each other’s minds;
…you should spend all your time only together;
…the relationships are of primary importance;
…the partner belongs only to you.
These illusions are manifested in a romantic variant of symbiosis – in the form of dreams and unrealistic hopes, as well as in its aggressive variant – in directive pretenses, requirements, and control. Anyway, there is no use in creating relationships on the illusions basis.
If you admit you want to engage in symbiotic relationships,
…realize their danger. Slowly but inevitably, the desire for freedom will increase, and sooner or later your partner will want to escape from the prison you’ve built;
…give the partner freedom. Remember that the person that in not being held, doesn’t need to escape. A relationship can turn into partnership only when we will preserve our individuality, and the partner will value us more.
…work on yourself. Decide what makes you feel so anxious and fearful about losing a relationship;
…set your own boundaries and interests. The wider they extend beyond your family’s frames, the better for you.
If you are being involved in symbiotic relationships,
…try to help the partner understand that it is dangerous. You may show them this article.
…softly but confidently resist the attempts of symbiosis. Keep calm and try to explain your point without aggression. It may be difficult sometimes, when the partner is aggressive and your behavior is defensive.
…preserve your individuality. A person who is sacrificing their uniqueness, either voluntarily or under influence, always loses.
…help the partner to manifest their own individuality. Encourage their hobbies and communication with others.
All in all, to create healthy relationships, we need to have a zone of self-independence, feel our own worth despite the fact of being together or apart from a definite person. Here, we mean a real zone of independence, not the state “I will show him/her that I have my own interests.” It is important to do everything exclusively for yourself, not to prove somebody something.