I got an "F" in Advanced Biology my senior year of high school, but the class left me with memorable lessons. One lesson relevant in the dating discussion is the idea of symbiotic and parasitic relationships.
A symbiotic relationship includes two organisms that benefit from the relationship. Parasitic relationships include organisms in which one organism benefits but the other is harmed. In the perilous world of dating, parasitic relationships occur often.
In a parasitic relationship, people use other people to get what they want. Of course that used person ends up getting hurt, even if it's shame or feeling stupid after the cat's out of the bag.
Here are common ways that people are used in dating:
Used for Sex
Men are usually the ones who are guilty of this offense, but it can go both ways. It's rare for you both to be OK with using each other for sex. We may say we can do it, but at some point doesn't human emotion figure in for at least one person in a situation like this?
Used for Money
One time at a family dinner with guests, my little sister said: "I don't really like my boyfriend. I stay with him because he buys me things." My dad, who is right off the boat from the Philippines and loves to show off the American slang he learns at work, chimed in: "What do you call that? Cock-tease?" What a treat to have my father call my sister a "cock-tease" at the dinner table with guests (and an indicator of my troubled and strange childhood). Anyway, dating someone for the money is an age-old way to use someone.
Used to Make Someone Else Jealous
The insulting thing about this offense is that the victim feels twice as stupid. In addition to being used in general, when the situation blows up it turns out that the user was actually interested in someone else all along. The victim is pretty much a pawn in a game.
Used for Self-Esteem
Many times I hear people say: "They make me feel so good about myself." People shouldn't depend on others to boost their self-esteem. It should come from within, and if a relationship is used to make yourself feel better, then you're in the relationship for the wrong reasons.
Used to Climb a Ladder
Sometimes you get to where you want to be because of who you know. So, you get these "strategic" Hollywood unions between aspiring actors and powerful producers, for example. We've all heard of "sleeping your way to the top"; relationships can be used the same way.
Used for Image
I recently commented that Tiger Woods may have gotten married to appear as a "family man" to the American public. Your other half says a lot about you. If you're trying to get people to think better of you, you might date or settle down with someone who can help restore/build your image.
Used for Completion or Happiness
Another common thing I hear: "He/she completes me." I'm a firm believer that you need to be a complete person before you get into a relationship. You can't be happy with someone else until you are happy on your own. And you certainly shouldn't use someone else to make yourself happy — that's not what they are there for. They can be a source of happiness, but they shouldn't make or break your happiness.
When someone is being used in a relationship, the balance is thrown off. Pay attention to what your significant other talks about. No matter how much they make it look like they are not using you, whatever they want from you will come up in conversation repeatedly — it will have to rear its ugly head.
There are some situations where you both are open about the shallowness of "using" each other. "Power couples" form a union to get to a common goal. And of course, many couples try to catch the "casual sex" lightning in a bottle. But, if any emotion comes into the equation, you can't have this type of relationship. Someone is bound to get hurt.
And it's possible that if both of you are comfortable in a shallow relationship in which you are using one another, you are a bit empty inside, and you aren't ready for a mature relationship.