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Signs You're In A Parasitic Relationship

Is your love sucking the life out of you? Identify the signs you're in a parasitic relationship.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

In school, you probably learned about creatures called leeches in biology. Their main claim to fame is that they suck - and that they're parasites. Without something to suck blood from, leeches simply can't survive. So, they go their entire lives sucking the life and blood from creatures in order to sustain themselves.

As you may have already found out, not all leeches are of the wormy type. Some people are better parasites than the worms themselves - and they actually go out of their way to find good "hosts" to date. 

No one wants to be the person who's taken advantage of by a mooch or emotional parasite. But, it happens to good people every day. If you have any of these issues in your relationship, you're probably in a parasitic relationship with a person who will eventually suck you dry. 

They are isolating you from your friends and family, and regularly make digs about you over past "transgressions."

Most abusive relationships also have a partner who is, at least partially, living as a parasite off a victim. The reason why this is the case is because most parasites will use guilt, emotional manipulation, and isolation to make sure that their host doesn't kick them to the curb. 

By making a point of keeping you alone, they remove your support network, which in turn gives them more power over you. Regularly making digs at your appearance, personality traits, skills, or past wrongdoings (which may not even be wrong) helps lower your self-esteem to make you feel like you can't get better than them. 

Abuse gives them the ability to make you feel like you're nothing without them, and leeches know that. As a result, many leeches are also abusers.

The work distribution is killing you, and your partner just won't pick up any slack regardless of how often you've talked about it.

Sometimes, the reason why leeches drain their victims has nothing to do with love or financial gain. For some, it's a matter of work. Why would anyone work if they had a breadwinner, maid, and childcare expert doing everything for them, anyway?

Most of the time, people who are being lazy and are mooching off you will stop mooching if you sit them down and tell them that they have to pitch in. However, if you've spoken to them repeatedly without any change, it may be time to kick them to the curb. 

You regularly end up paying for all of their stuff because they make you feel guilty or would force you to go alone if you didn't.

This is obviously different if one partner just lost their job or if one partner is a stay-at-home parent. However, if you both have jobs and you're spending way more on them than they are on you, you need to wonder what the deal is. 

Are they with you because they love you, or do they just like having you as their walking ATM? Oftentimes, the only way to find out is if they stick around once you stop paying their bills and giving them gifts. (Hint: be prepared to break up.)

You feel drained.

Whether it's emotional support, financial support, or just labor, being sucked dry will make anyone feel drained. If you come home and just want to collapse on the bed, or worse, you just want to start crying from all the overload, you are probably in a parasitic relationship. 

Additionally, if you notice that your bank account is almost always near 0, even though you were in great financial shape before you started dating that person, chances are that they're using you for your money. (In that case, it's your bank account feeling drained.)

They make a point of making you feel personally responsible for their happiness and wellbeing.

This is not quite the same as guilt-tripping, but it's very close. The big difference here is that, alongside guilt, they also are making you feel like it's your job to keep them happy. Ways they do this may include the following:

  • Normalizing skewed relationship dynamics. ("All women have to be homemakers, but all my other exes also had jobs and paid the bills too. What's your problem? Can't you do both?")
  • Using reciprocity as a basis to make you feel like you "owe" him. ("Well, the other month or so, I did the dishes. Why can't you clean the entire house?")
  • Trying to lay legal claim on goods you originally owned, or holding something that you care about hostage. ("If you divorce me, you're never seeing your son again!" or "I'm sorry, but I couldn't marry a girl unless she was willing to let me drive her Ferrari for a week or so first.")
  • Comparing you to an ex. ("My ex used to make me happy...")
  • Bringing what others think into play. ("Oh, so you're going to be one of those guys who leaves his wife and five kids all alone? And here I was thinking you looked down on men who abandoned their kin.")
  • Using religious doctrine to make it seem like it's a god-given duty. ("Ahem, the bible said it's a woman's job to submit to her husband.") 
  • Talk about how most "other" people would be "shallow" and dump them for being broke/deadbeats/losers. ("You're not like all the other girls! You wouldn't dump me for being broke, would you?")

If you notice this behavior, you need to dump them - or in cases of marriage, get a very good divorce lawyer. This is abuse, and it's also very telling of why they're with you. 

The only time that they begin thinking about your wants and needs is when you make it clear that you are thinking of leaving.

In many moocher relationships, the parasitic partner will continue to ride the victim's "gravy train" even while noticing that it's stressing their victim. Any complaints that their victim may have will often be ignored because they honestly don't care about the victim - at least, not they way they should. As long as they are getting their needs met, it's all gravy to them.

The only time most leeches who are in parasitic relationships will begin to prioritize their partners is if they think their partner is serious about leaving. So, if you think he's going to change - don't be so sure.

The truth is that they don't care until they realize their gravy train is no longer running. 

If you asked your partner to do what you do for them, they'd definitely say no - and deep down inside, you know it.

Here's the thing about leeches: they're all about taking. They don't give. It's not in their nature, and once they have the impression that they've got their jaws in you, they won't do much of anything for you. 

Most of the time, we know when a partner wouldn't give us as much as we'd give them. It's an innate instinct in many of us. And, if you know you're being used, you also know what to do.

If you aren't sure that they would do the same for you, a good way to see what would happen is to "get troubled" for a while and see if they'd be willing to help you. If they're not, you may need to dump the leech in your life. 

You legit fear the consequences if you don't give your partner exactly what you want.

Many mooches will make a point of instilling the idea that there will be negative consequences if a target doesn't give them what they want. These consequences may include making a scene, badmouthing them, leaving them, or even worse. 

As a result, if you get the feeling that you're being emotionally or financially blackmailed, you may need to put your foot down and leave them. This kind of pressure will only get worse and worse if you allow them to continue it. 

They only call you when you want something.

Many relationship parasites don't actually do much to nurture relationships with their targets past the "getting to know you" phase. If you notice that your boyfriend or friend only hits you up when they want something, chances are that you're in a parasitic relationship. 

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