Human to Human parasitic relationships.
According to Shlomiya Bar-Yam of New England Complex Systems Institute “A parasitic relationship is one in which one organism, the parasite, lives off of another organism, the host, harming it and possibly causing death. The parasite lives on or in the body of the host. Usually, although parasites harm their hosts, it is in the parasite’s best interest not to kill the host, because it relies on the host’s body and body functions, such as digestion or blood circulation, to live.”
In human beings there are also types of parasite. People that are naturally parasitic can sometimes be unaware of it, but most of the time these people have motives, and have somewhat thought through their course of action. Although most of them, through their own self-centered attitude and/or self absorption, are unaware of the cost of their behavior on the Host, it is almost always unfulfilling behavior and detrimental to any kind of relationship. Each parasite has their own downfalls and character flaws that keep them in this state of want. Some types of people are parasitic by nature, most are parasitic by circumstance, but the worst type is the parasite by choice.
Often times keeping your life separate from that of your parasitic friend is difficult because human beings tend to be ruled by a little empathetic emotion called guilt . This emotion often times makes people go out of their way to do things for others, whether selflessly (altruistic) or for the benefit of recognition (egoistic), and often times not getting back what they put in simply because they gave so quickly without setting up a standard of behavior first. Remember, YOU teach people how to treat you by what you let them do or get away with. If you recognize behavior you don’t like, look at what is preceding that behavior that you can change or alter to get the desired outcome.
The parasite by nature is often the most unaware and the most self absorbed of the parasites. The majority of this population has had bad experiences with friends, family, or boyfriends, and sometimes could have underlying psychological problems. They display themselves as the depressed friend, the recently dumped friend, the divorced family member, and pretty much anyone that’s gone through a major life change or has always been predisposed to depression. Often times this person needs constant reassuring and emotional comforts in the form of fishing for compliments. They are exhausting to be around sometimes because of their need for attention and affection, and can get upset when you need time to yourself for any reason. Sometimes you can even feel guilty for wanting to get away from this exhausting friend, but then in the back of your mind you’re sympathetic to their life experiences, and you feel as if you’re the only one that can help. However, there comes a point in your relationship with this parasite where you realize nothing you can do will really ever help, because its their outlook on life and their perception of it is flawed and must be changed by and for themselves not anyone else. There comes a point where you notice these continual feelings of self pity and doubt, and can no longer play into the compliment fishing and the approval war. When you finally recognize that this friend is the parasitic type, it must take a very careful and thought-out plan to get them out of your life. This unhealthy relationship could spawn into a dependency, and needs to be addressed with a lot of careful planning. Get them to see a therapist, introduce them to new friend groups, encourage more social outings, and as a last resort relocation should be considered.
The parasite by circumstance seems to be the most unfortunate of the group. They’ve seemingly come into their situation by chance, or unfortunate incidents have lead them there, but for the most part they are in a situation of desperate need that may or may not be the result of their behavior. These are the single mothers, the drug addicts/ recovering drug addicts, the homeless, and the downtrodden. Maybe they had a steady job, but lost it after not showing up for work because of a drug addiction. Maybe their parents had health problems, or got into car accidents, and they’ve been forced into being their caretakers. Most of the time, however, these types of parasites have just made a couple bad decisions that they’re really having trouble recovering from. For example, a bad night out on the town could result in a DUI and force them to beg to be driven around. Or they get jail time, and have a hard time getting a job that can afford their lifestyle. When you’re friends/acquaintances with someone that is in such a bad position in life, they can only take things from you. Its practically a fact, an unfortunate one, but it pretty much sums up the situation at hand. Unless they’re willing to cook or clean for you, they better be a really good listener….but how often are people in this situation free of their own internal clutter to listen? They are frequently blinded by their own needs and desperation that they fail to notice the detrimental affect of their behavior on the people around them. Often times a person comes in to your life that you realize you really can’t improve their situation, but as a human being you feel guilty and offer your services to the parasite anyway. So you pick them up in your car, you drive them places, and you get stuck in the worst rut of all you lend them money. Well say good bye to that money, because most of the time the parasite has no way to pay you back, considering if they did, they might not be so much of a parasite. This person will come up with all kinds of ideas to make money, and tell you promises of how they are going out and doing things with their life, but most of the time these ideas and promises are so irrational they’d have no way to coming to fruition. They can also manipulate your feelings of guilt over their situation and play on your sympathy to get more out of you. Beware of a constant referral to their problems and the soon to follow request for goods, money, time, or effort. To get rid of this parasite just stop talking to them or entertaining any kind of conversation, and if they initiate don’t give a response. This type of parasite tends to move on and find another person to leech off of pretty quickly.
The parasite by choice is the most manipulative of all the parasites. They appear well put-together, calm, and in control. This parasite would take on the role of your newly reacquainted best friend that’s become astonishingly close over a short period of time, a boyfriend or ex boyfriend, and a power hungry emotionally manipulative relative. These parasites are the most dangerous because they seem to be the most aware of their demands and apply long-used trial and error style approaches to getting what they want out of a person. They often integrate themselves in your personal life picking up ammo and making a note of things to manipulate you with later. They recognize guilt as a tool of emotional drainage and feel as though this person OUGHT to want to give them attention, time, material possessions, or money because of the role they play for the parasite. They will call you names, and insinuate that you are a bad person for not returning to them what they SO GRACIOUSLY have done for you, they will guilt trip you by manipulating your feelings of sympathy, and in the worst cases they can outright steal from you. Then of course they will do a few things for you, and seem helpful and appreciative at first to gain collateral, but they’re never truly thankful. Any real show of emotion or comfort from them is just a ploy to trick you into giving more to them. For instance, I knew a friend of mine was having a bad day, so when we met for dinner (that she begged me to go to and be on time and complained that I was always late) I gave her this cd I had downloaded and burned just for her, and at first she was thankful. I knew it was music she liked, and she was happy for a while, then when we left to drive back home to our separate houses she called me on the phone complaining that it skipped. Here I was going out of my way to meet someone for dinner, and I thought about her mood ahead of time and came up with a little idea I thought would make her day better, and she calls me to complain about it the minute she gets in her car. What kind of person does that? Answer: a person who only thinks about what they can get out of you. She wanted my attention WHEN and WHERE she wanted it, whether or not I felt like giving it to her did not matter to her. This was an inherent parasitic personality flaw. My emotions or feelings mattered much less than her own, and she honestly believed and lived her life like this. Others would call her spoiled, but I recognized this as more than just an attitude; it was a belief system. So under certain circumstances I took the out that was provided for me by her constant outbursts and demands for my attention, and finally stopped talking to her. The manipulative Parasite by Choice is a dangerous person to have around. Once you’ve stood your ground and offended them by not giving in to what they desire, they go on a rampage and attack your self esteem by calling you names and bringing up all kinds of insults from your past to barb you with. So once you’ve encountered this vicious nitwitted foe, turn and run, but make sure the departure is a solid one! To get rid of this parasite simply stop playing into their demands and be upfront about what you’re not going to do. Often when this type of parasite is presented with a blatant, they begin to start a fight. Your role in this fight is just to let them show how immature they are as they keep talking, then when they’re finally done, give them your exit line, and refuse all calls and invitations to get them out of your life.
The best way to help any of these parasites would be to offer advice, and resources that don’t include your money or your time if they were better spent achieving your own goals in life. Sometimes in other more severe cases, its best to get out while you can, and not be concerned with changing a person who refuses to acknowledge their negative behavior. It is always important in these situations to remember to take care of yourself first, and not get lost giving or being consumed by another person’s drama, problems, or poverty. In the small chance that a parasitic friend realizes their behavior as being negative and expresses regret and sorrow, rehabilitation with a therapist or psychiatrist could be beneficial. Overall its best to distinguish these parasitic friends and remove the complication from your life.
Shlomiya Bar-Yam. http://necsi.org/projects/evolution/cover/evolution_cover.html. New England Complex Systems Institute