Symbiosis in relationships: why things change psychologically


In this article I want to share the idea of ​​relational symbiosis and its effects on the future of marriage and breakups in couples. Symbiosis is the connection that two people find with each other at the beginning of the relationships that cause the initial attraction and the decision-making process to marry or live together. Culture plays an important role in the symbiosis along with the developmental problems of the type of parenting style experienced in early childhood.


To understand symbiosis, we have to know what it really means! It is a term that describes the needs and wants that are satisfied by one party to another. For example, if a girl grows up with her parents, who take great care of her, think for her and make all the decisions, it is possible that as an adult she will look for men who are controlling and demanding, since this fills the need for her. she will go on without thinking for herself and have decisions made for her. The man may have had very critical parents where he learned that control of others is the purpose of relationships and that is why he looks for the needy girl, easy to control and who allows him to think for her. This couple will have symbiosis in that structure and will be happy with the role they are playing psychologically. This form of symbiosis is a dominant subdominant arrangement. However, to have a complete symbiosis, there must be many factors of complementary needs and desires for a new couple to decide to marry.

Relationship research has found that couples with similar backgrounds, social status, and proximity tend to be attracted to each other and form long-term relationships (1. Festinger 1950). Today, however, much of that research may need to be revisited, as diversification in relationships is becoming more likely, particularly with interracial marriages, as people travel more and have more opportunities to meet men. and women from different cultures. Here symbiosis can be the determining factor in the continuity of relationships. The most cited research now is also from over 30 years ago and the subjects were often single American college students who were not exactly representative of the population as a whole and are statistically dubious today. For example, the work of Zajonc 1971, Dion 1972, Griffit & Veitch 1974, Bossard, 1931, and Hedier 1958, while much of this research on relationship factors remains relevant today, as many lack insight of the cultural changes of a global society. The most obvious criticism is that previous research has often focused on a couple in isolation from other players in the relationship, such as mother-in-law, friends and ex-partners, especially with an overall divorce rate of almost 37%.

According to Get Rich Daily on the divorce rate in America:

• The divorce rate in the United States for the first marriage is 41%

• The divorce rate in the United States for the second marriage is 60%

• The divorce rate in the United States for the third marriage is 73%


If then we accept that at the beginning of the relationship the symbiosis is evident and both parties are happy with the arrangement, how does it go wrong? Some common patterns emerge from counseling couples and individuals. First, that people change over time, particularly women, who may have needed a dependent situation in their early years, but as education and maturity play their part, women become more self-confident that in the past, she begins to demand to be heard, that her opinion counts now. The husband often sees this rebellion against symbiosis as detrimental to the marriage, as he is still only too happy to be the dominant decision maker. Once the husband loses control of the once sub-dominant wife, he seeks the satisfaction of her dominance in a third party, looking for a young woman whom he can dominate again. Leaving the marriage in an unbalanced symbiosis as the needs of both parties are now not being met. For example, the wife who needs more independence of thought as he seeks to re-establish the symbiosis that existed before and accommodated her need for control. The inevitable result of such an imbalance is often divorce, yet many women claim that they remain in unhappy marriages for the sake of the children or for their own personal safety. Having found the need for independence of thought does not mean financial independence! Here a woman may try to find new outlets for her feelings through children or outside interests. Although we are using just one example, it is the most common one seen among married couples. A second area of ​​symbiosis is the person’s view of life. Your vision of life is how you see the world, for example, as dangerous, wonderful or futile. This life position can again be symbiotic at first with a shared worldview. Experience over time can change this, for example becoming a vegetarian for animal welfare reasons and the partner still wanting to eat meat. This change in general view of life and the world can have profound effects, particularly in mixed marriages. A Muslim married to a Christian could become a proud relationship after the passion of the initial attraction wears off! Diversity is now a much more common arrangement in marriages than it was in the past and a challenge for modern counselors trying to resolve the couple’s fundamental differences in views on life, especially since the counselor will also have his or her point of view. view of life

Switch to symbiosis:

What are the positive aspects of the change of symbiosis in a couple? Here couples need to make a readjustment to their long-term arrangements. First accept that people can change and new needs can be found, including a sense of purpose in life. If partners can adapt to change and be more tolerant, many marriages could be revitalized into a new symbiosis for both. For example, if the dominant husband accepts that her wife can think for herself now, he may be proud of her maturity and encourage her to take more risks in whatever she decides for herself. He could become more democratic in the marriage by agreeing to talk more before decisions are made that both feel is good and not just one. Of course, in many marriages these roles are reversed. Second, the lack of symbiosis is one of the main causes of many trivial discussions that later become catastrophes in important discussions about the relationship itself.

Many clients say that once the symbiosis has changed so has the intimacy of the relationship and sex is often the first casualty of the new positions. There are many reasons why the symbiosis can change, job loss, economic downturn, caring for elderly relatives, all can put pressure on the dynamics of a relationship. In our example, if our dominant man lost his job and became unemployed for some reason, then the wife may start to worry that the dependent man she trusted is now depressed and in doing so, become less confident, less dominant and less sure of the future. . Here the symbiosis is not affected by the internal arrangement but by external elements that are beyond its control.

The symbiosis can be affected by third parties, such as the mother-in-law, who can influence her daughter or son to take certain positions in the marriage and bring the carefully managed symbiosis to a crisis point. In some cultures, such as China, men are heavily influenced by their mothers after marriage, particularly in the case where the man wants a replacement mother in his wife (very common). This can lead to three-way symbiosis in which the needs of three people are allowed to be accommodated. The Chinese husband often relinquishes his mother’s power to him and leaves the wife feeling powerless.

Traditional, Custom, Culture in Symbiosis:

People often misunderstand the words, traditional, custom and culture in terms of correct and incorrect behavior and norms of conduct. Tradition is something we have always done but have often forgotten its original purpose and continue the practices with an attitude, we have always done it that way. Custom is the preferred way of conducting daily life that is acceptable to the majority of a class of people. For example, greetings and offers to pay for a meal with the intent to meet the offer will be declined. However, the culture is very different as it is constantly changing according to the pressures of modern life, the economy and now technology. An iPhone is as much a part of modern culture as high-speed trains. The change of culture puts tradition and custom to the test, since they are not always compatible. In symbiosis, the generational gap between the traditions that are followed and the customs that develop can be in direct competition with the changing culture. Here discussions between parents, young married couples, and single adults can differ greatly in their symbiotic needs. Symbiosis can traditionally be sought in marriage according to the parents’ idea of ​​the correct way and the needs of future care of themselves to the point of practically selling their daughter for money disguised as traditional custom. Young couples struggling to find a place in a tough economic climate may decide to cohabit as a way to eschew tradition and align with a more modern cultural approach to economic realities. Therefore, the symbiosis between generations is not maintained and even governments try to enact laws to enforce traditional values ​​with tax incentives and penalties. (2.Myler 2011)


You can see from our symbiosis overview that many factors can interfere with and damage the original symbiosis of a marriage that begins as a balanced happy arrangement only to fall apart later in life according to changes in that symbiosis. Symbiosis is then the cornerstone of a successful marriage or future divorce. The symbiosis can only be maintained through a constant vigilance of the changing times and the growth of the individual’s personality, abilities and change in the way of seeing life. If you are going to have a long-term relationship, both parties need to understand that change is happening and accept that change in a positive way. While most couples in psychotherapy can, when given information, make positive changes in their outlook and outlook on life, many of course cannot and seek a third party to bring the symbiosis back into their psychological well-being, either through affairs or divorce with a new marriage with a partner who offers that symbiosis they wanted from the old partner.


1. Festinger 1950, Advanced Psychology Through Diagrams – G. Hill

2. Myler 2011, The China Papers

Words: 1780

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