One of the things that many people struggle with is this idea of being replaceable. We like to feel that we can’t be substituted with ease and that we mattered enough that another person won’t be able to just come along and seemingly take over where we left off. We want to believe that we matter and that OK, a person’s going to move on if we’re no longer together but that they’re not going to do it in a way that we feel would disrespect what we had with them. A prime example of this is when we go through a breakup – it cuts to the core when we discover that they moved on before things had ended or had someone else in their mind and/or bed within hours or days of us leaving. We feel replaceable instead of realising that the person is clearly avoidant.
One of the things I’ve learned from looking at my old relationship habits and those of the many readers of BR is that often people who base their value on whether they feel replaced and also live in fear of it, spend a lot of their dating and relationship time trying to be the replacement for others.
It’s a Replacement Mentality. When we look at who we spend our relationships with and what we’re basically trying to do, it’s all about taking the place of someone or something.
Choose me over him/her or your problems.
Replace him/her or your codependent behaviour with me.
We make our lives about competing and become too embroiled in what others are being and doing and where we can offer a ‘competitive advantage’. As soon as we do this we’re not truly respecting ourselves or others.
Of course because we’re so caught up in replacing, we don’t go in as individual entities that know our own worth and are living our values, boundaries, and basically being ourselves. We get too caught up in looking at what others are doing and using that to influence where we think we need to adapt to be more pleasing. We look and listen for clues as to what will make them keep this replacement and not look elsewhere. If they mention that they didn’t like something last time, we start scratching things off our personality and character to stay in play. Bye bye boundaries, values and sense of self.
We want to know that we’re ‘better than’ someone or ‘as enough’ and if we’re there and their ex isn’t, we wonder why they would want to go back or keep pining for that person when we’re right there in front of them, trying to be the replacement. It’s what fuels many an affair – we want the person we’re involved with to take the other party out of their role because obviously something is wrong with that person (even though that may very well not be the case at all and actually blames the other party) and there’s a better option, and we want to be the replacement. We want their role even though if we get it, we might desperately want to give it back when we realise the reality of our involvement.
When we allow someone to default to or fall back on us like a rainy day option that they keep in their back pocket, we are again looking to be a replacement. We think, ‘I’ll be your Fallback Girl / Guy. I’ll jump into the role when you click your fingers or turn up the heat on things.’
We see this person as having a role and in our minds, we occupied and did that role best (they just didn’t know it and appreciate it), and we keep ourselves available so that we can be the replacement and basically occupy the role we were in before…. even if when we think about it, that role detracted from us because we barely had two self-esteem beans to rub together and when we’re with them, we’re living in perennial fear that we’re going to be replaced at any moment.
When we don’t show up as an equal who is deserving of love, care, trust, and respect and who gets to choose what they do and don’t want to be involved in, we carry on as if we’re in the X-Factor or Dating Idol and that our job is to position ourselves to be chosen . We want the role of The Next Big Thing. The problem is that when we treat our relationships like this, aside from automatically putting the person on a pedestal and giving them far too much power, we’re basically carrying on as if this magnificent person who actually just isn’t that special, has a vacancy of Good enough person who will provoke me into making them the exception to my rule and closing that vacancy for good. Must be willing to run over hot coals and jump through hoops for crumbs. By waiting around to be chosen, we’re treating potential prospects as if they have a blanket role to fill and we just have to be whatever they want us to be in order to fill it.
The trouble is that when we have this replacement mentality, we keep making the mistake of assuming that if a person is out of a role then it’s because they’re not good enough and that we’re being given the opportunity to replace them, but conversely, when things don’t work out for us, we then assume that it’s because we’re not good enough either and that we’re being replaced by someone who is ‘better’ than us. Round and round we go and lather, rinse, repeat.
Its not a job vacancy! It’s a mutual relationship!
This is why it’s important to decide who we are and get on with this first and foremost, and to not run around as if we have no choices and options and people’s wishes are just imposed upon us. We’ve got to show up as somebody who is getting to know their worth (or knows it) and is there to go through the discovery phase and mutually unfold , not to audition for a role and perform. We’ve got to stop slipping into desperation and trying to slot into people’s lives as if we’re a person who just goes with whatever flows their way. We matter.
Trying to be a replacement gets us into filling roles gets us into pretending. Who has that kinda time?
We must also be careful of the replacement double standard because if we don’t like feeling as if we’re replaceable, we have no business deriving our value from trying to matter more or as much as the last person or the harem. We will lose our integrity in the pursuit and gradually forget and lose our true selves. We end up realising that we’ve become something that we don’t recognise or like because we’ve replaced ourselves due to not valuing us enough. We don’t own them and they don’t own us. What has their previous or next relationship got to do with it (got to do with it)? We’ll be a second rate them and they will be a second rate us. We’re so busy trying to fill roles that hurt us that we forget that by being a replacement instead of being ourselves and respecting our individuality, we’re basically trying to give a person the same relationship in a different or slightly enhanced package, even if that relationship isn’t right for us or even them.