“The worst part is that I guess I just feel replaced…”
Replaced. Hmmmm. I zoned in as she continued “but I guess, man if I feel this way, you must feel so much worse, right?”
I had to think about that one for a minute before replying. We were chatting about some people close to us who had recently gotten engaged and then kind of fell off the planet if you know what I mean? They become M.I.A. (missing in action) or in their own little world – I often quote the old Bambi movie and call this stage “Twitterpated” when I see it. (See the cute video below – email readers, try this link)
Ruth, this blog post is for you, as we arrived at our destination tonight before I could reply (and thanks for giving me a topic for today!). I can definitely relate to feeling replaced in close friendships! I don’t know that I feel worse than you do though. Yes, I’ve been ‘replaced’ many more times, but I also think that I learned a few skills which have helped me process it, so it’s actually gotten easier, and not harder for me. So don’t despair!
When your close friends or siblings start dating or get engaged and you are suddenly pushed out into a less central place in their heart and lives, here are a few tips that have helped me over the years (and that I still have to practice on a regular basis!)
- Have a good cry. Yes, this helps! In many ways you have been replaced and it’s ok to grieve your loss, even if you are happy for the other person’s gain.
- Recognize that you can feel two emotions at once – joy for them, and pain for you. Know that it’s a good thing that your spot in their lives has been ‘replaced’. If they are getting married and you still held the closest spot in their heart next to the Lord, than it would be a very bad thing.
- While your spot and role in their life was replaced, You as a person have not been replaced. They still need you, and you need them. How you interact in each other’s lives is just going to look different from now on.
- A really important question to ask yourself is:“Is this relationship important enough to me to wait for them?” You have a choice, to close up and move on, or to stay and wait around till their core relationship is formed with their spouse or future spouse. I never yet had a couple NOT reappear after a few months or a few years (the time span varies on their personalities) needing friendship and support from their friends and family. Couples need bonding time. As a friend, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is this time to establish who they are as couple. It will be painful to you, and a big adjustment, but if the friendship and investment is worth the wait to you, the friendship on the other side will be all the sweeter and stronger for it. Love is a two way street, but it’s also the sacrifice of a one lane road while the other lane is under construction.
- You also have the choice to talk to the friend in the relationship and express your needs in the friendship. This can be very tricky to do without coming across as needy or making the friend in the relationship feel guilty. While it can be helpful sometimes, I would approach it with caution and love.
- Choose to include the person you are feeling replaced by. This can be a tough one, but looking into the future, if you want to continue a friendship with your friend, get to know the person they are in the relationship with. If you have had a close friendship for many years, the new person entering into the relationship with your friend could easily feel threatened. You have the opportunity to bless this couple by becoming friends with both of them. The dividends of this investment will be more than you can comprehend.
It’s so easy to become offended and upset when we feel we have been replaced! It’s ok to grieve the loss, but it’s not ok to let it destroy your relationship with your friend. (Please note the other person always has a choice too – but we are responsible for our own choices and how we respond to them).
How do you think 1 Corinthians 13 applies when we have been replaced in a friendship? (Please read it slowly).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Replaced” is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read the pervious post please click here.