12 Examples Of A Parasitic Relationship & What To Do If You’re In One

If you feel like you’re the only one putting any effort into your relationship while your partner expects the world of you and doesn’t feel grateful when you give it, you might be in a parasitic relationship. Below are some examples of the things you’ll experience in a parasitic relationship, as well as some suggestions on what to do if you realize you’re in one.

What is a parasitic relationship?

A parasitic relationship is a relationship where one partner does everything for the other person but gets nothing in return. Healthy relationships are give and take; both parties pretty much put in equal effort. In parasitic relationships, one person reaps all the benefits of being in a relationship while the other is doing all the work.

Examples of a parasitic relationship

  1. You’re responsible for their feelings. This is one of the most popular examples of the dynamics in a parasitic relationship. You’re expected to manage your partner’s emotions at all times. You have to walk on eggshells and hide how you really feel about things to keep the peace, leaving very little room for your own feelings.
  2. You clean up all their messes, both literally and figuratively. You’re not just expected to do all the chores around the house, but you have to manage their life too. All of their problems are your issues to fix, even if they have nothing to do with you. They’ll never try to better themselves or seek any kind of help; instead, it’s up to you to save them from their bad decisions or anything life throws at them. They can get pretty moody and irritable if you don’t do everything for them.
  3. Everything is about them. One of the more disturbing examples of a parasitic relationship and one of the most pervasive. The world revolves around your partner in dynamics like this. If you try to tell them about a bad day at work, they’ll quickly dismiss you and start talking about themselves. They literally have no regard or concern for how you and everyone else also have feelings, responsibilities, and a life.
  4. You no longer have your own life. You might start to realize that you don’t really have your own friends anymore; you just sort of integrated into their life and took very little of yours with you. So, everything else in your life suffers, like your relationships with old friends and family and even your career and education for example, because those things aren’t important to a parasitic partner. So, they have no problem stirring the pot at a friend’s wedding, before big exams, or an important meeting at work.
  5. You can’t do anything alone. This ties into the point above. You don’t really have your own life anymore. If you want to go to something or hang out with your friends, a parasitic partner will invite themself every single time. Of course, if you need to pick up some groceries, they probably won’t want to come along and help with that.
  6. They can’t (or simply won’t) celebrate your wins. Your partner isn’t exactly jealous of your accomplishments; they just don’t care. They’re not going to meaningfully say congratulations, buy you flowers, or take you out for dinner if you do well in an exam or get a promotion – but they expect those things when they’re the one with reason to celebrate.
  7. You pay for everything. It’s nice to treat your partner sometimes, and everyone goes through hard times. But, if you’ve been together for a while, and they rarely if ever actually spend their own money, this is yet another of the glaring examples of a parasitic relationship dynamic.
  8. They’re never there for you. They provide no comfort, advice, or support if you’re having a hard time. Instead, it’s up to you to power through while somehow still being attentive to their desires. But again, you have to hold their hand through everything.
  9. They’re impatient. Tending to their every need isn’t enough; you need to drop everything immediately or else they get irritable.
  10. They never do anything nice for you. You don’t get into a relationship because you want to be showered with gifts and free dinners, but some appreciation is nice. In a parasitic relationship, your partner won’t spontaneously do anything nice to show their appreciation.
  11. Nothing is ever enough. No matter how much you do for them, it’s just never enough for a parasitic partner. They always need more energy, time, and love from you.
  12. You feel burnt out. The biggest sign of being in a parasitic relationship is feeling burnt out when there’s nothing else in your life that could cause it. Having your entire life revolve around your partner with zero appreciation will leave you with nothing else to give.

What to do if you’re in a parasitic relationship

parasitic examples

provided by iStock

  1. Stop bending over backward for them. It’s hard to stop acting like a therapist or a second mom to your partner because they would have had to throw some serious tantrums or manipulate you in order for you to take care of them so much in the first place. But, they’re never going to change if there isn’t an incentive to change. It’s time for them to grow up and learn how the washing machine works.
  2. Treat yourself. You probably haven’t done anything nice for yourself in a while because your partner dismisses it, or you’re so burnt out it doesn’t even cross your mind. It’s time to start some self-care. So, treat yourself to something nice like a spa day, a nice meal, or new makeup.
  3. Rebuild your life. Reach out to those your partner isolated you from and try to make amends. Hopefully, they’ll understand the situation you’re in and will be patient if you can’t devote much time to them. This is especially important if you plan on leaving because you need a solid support system.
  4. Set boundaries. A parasitic partner probably won’t react well to boundaries, but if they refuse to change, then it’s game over. So, no more doing all the cooking and cleaning or only doing things they want to do.
  5. Consider leaving. Sure, setting boundaries might be a wake-up call, and your parasitic partner could start to become more considerate. But to be blunt, they probably don’t want to change since it’s more hassle for them and they essentially lose having a free maid and therapist. If it’s hopeless, it’s time to leave. You deserve a healthier relationship.
Aisling is a 20-something year old Irish writer who is the life and relationship guru of her social circle. She loves music, movies, and coffee.