Friday, October 22, 2010

Is it a Partnership or Parasitism?

Do you have a partner or a parasite? Are you involved in a partnership or parasitism? I’ve been pondering this topic for a few months. From my own experience and stories told by friends, this theme in regard to relationships is quite common. It would be nice if everyone followed the Golden Rule of reciprocity.

Leviticus 19:18, reads, “…love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV) and Matthew 7:12, reads, “…in everything do to others what you would have them do to you…” (NIV). If everyone followed these two scriptures one could assume if someone treats you like crap, they either must not treat themselves well or they want you to do them one better and return the favor. Typically, I find the first reason to be true more so than the latter. I think it’s difficult to love/show concern for/respect someone else if you aren’t quite sure how to do so for yourself. It is then you find people who do a whole lot of taking and rarely give anything. They are, for lack of a better word or maybe this is the best word, parasites.

What exactly is a parasite? Just what it sounds like. Someone that feeds on your life’s blood – your energy, resources, weaknesses, etc. – until they drain you dry or at least they get what they want. Upon which time they move on to the next host. This can be anyone from a significant other, sibling, or family member to a friend or complete stranger. Not all parasites look alike or behave in the same manner. Fleas and mosquitoes catch you unaware to take what they need, while brood-parasitic birds lay their eggs in the host’s nest leaving the host to care for their responsibilities while they disappear. These wolves in sheep’s clothing masquerade as your friend and when you’re not looking they drain you of finances, time, and bring you so low your dreams appear further from reach. Another tactic is to laden you with their worries, burdens, responsibilities and once you have helped them (or taken care of those items on their to-do list) they disappear without having to use their own resources or brain power. Studies have shown, in the regard to insect and organism parasites, parasites can alter the behavior of its host. This too can be true of the human variety. Being stressed and pushed as you watch your resources and energy deplete with no deposits made by the other person, can completely take you out of character.

In contrast, a partner is a member of a partnership, in which there is “an arrangement where individuals agree to cooperate to advance their interests” (Wikipedia). The key words are “cooperate” and “advance”. Forward movement should be a team endeavor, not a solo journey. Contributions should be mutual and equally made. There should be a balance. The strengths of one partner should offset the weaknesses of the other. Both partners, whether familial or friendship, should be working towards a common goal whether that be the relationship itself, encouragement through life’s twists and turns, etc. Exhaustion and emotional strain should not be the byproduct of a partnership, but vitality, a renewed drive to succeed, and happiness.

With that being said, be careful who you let get close to you. A parasite will pull you down in order to rise, but a partner will make sure you both rise together.