I love my friends intensely. Fiercely. So you can imagine the depth of my concern when I received this online comment from a good friend of mine: “Today, I hurt so much. Today, I feel tremendously replaceable.”
How do you respond to that? Well, I’ll tell you how I did… I sought her out and made her tell me what happened. She was reluctant. The last thing someone wants to do is recount the events that would make her feel less than appreciated, less than special. But in this case, I wasn’t taking no for an answer. When she was finished, and when we had re-established firmly the fact that she is unique and precious and wonderful, she gave me permission to share this with you. Why? I’ll tell you at the end. (Stories are best when you reveal the moral last!)
My friend is single. Let’s start there. She’s wonderful and smart and beautiful. She simply hasn’t found the right man yet... but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So my friend – let’s call her Jill, because that’s nothing close to her real name (as far as you know) – recently started to feel a little crushy on a guy she’s known for a long time. As luck would have it, this man started to show interest in her at about the same time. Voilá! Romance begins.
Because Jill and this guy both hang out with many of the same people, often in group situations, the guy suggested that they keep their budding relationship quiet for a bit. He made the cogent argument that they needed to determine on their own, with no friendly interference, if their relationship really had long term potential before “coming out” to their friends. This way, if things worked out, they’d know it was because of the relationship, not because of pressure from the group. Similarly, if things didn’t work out, no one – either of them, anyone in the group – would feel awkward about the situation.
No matter what the arrangement was, Jill was beside herself. She was happy. She clearly thought things were going well. If I had to guess, I’d say she was falling hard for the guy. She never said it in so many words, but to me, from the outside listening to her, it was obvious.
So this went on for a few weeks, when Jill started to notice a slight change in this guy’s demeanor. It was slight, yes, but Jill’s a perceptive woman. Still, he gave no direct indication that his interest was waning. In fact, Jill gave him several “outs” which were never acknowledged or taken. Then, in recent days, Jill noticed this guy paying the slightest bit more attention to another friend of theirs. A hint of it. A whisper of it. Nothing anyone from outside would notice. Nothing anyone else on the inside seemed to notice. Anyone but Jill.
Jill thought about bringing this up with this guy, but she didn’t want to seem jealous when they’d barely started dating. That’s all sorts of uncomfortable, right? So instead, she took a circuitous route that you may question… she went to the other woman.
Now, before you get crazy, Jill did NOT let on to the other woman that she (Jill) and this guy had anything special going on. Instead, she lightly mentioned to this friend that she’d noticed the guy paying a little bit more attention to her (the friend), kind of in that wink-wink-nudge-nudge way that friends will do. I’m sure you can guess what happened next… the friend was beside herself excited to confide in Jill that she and this guy had decided to start quietly dating to test the waters, to see if their interest in each other was something worth pursuing further.
You know the rest of the rationale. And I’m sure that by now you, like I, can completely grasp what Jill meant when she said she felt “replaceable.” After all, the guy set things up with this other woman the exact same way he set them up with Jill – things he said to her, things they shared, ways and times they spent time together, including some details I can’t share here at risk of revealing to a select few who Jill is. Identical.
Is Jill going to say anything further to her friend, the other woman in this situation? She considered it, more to protect her friend than anything. But she also doesn’t feel it’s her place to presume that this guy will treat her friend with the same disrespect as he showed her. It’s a crap shoot, really.
And of course Jill is going to end things with the guy. That part is tough because she considered him a close friend for many years prior to this. Now she wonders if they can continue to be friends at all, since he lied to her and betrayed her trust.
So what is the moral of this story? There are several, but these are the points I want to drive home with you:
- Trust your gut. Yes, sometimes your gut will be wrong, of course. Sometimes you may come across like a crazy person. But listen to it. Even a little.
- Be direct and be honest. Jill gave this guy many opportunities to be direct and honest with her if he felt he wanted to revert to “just” friendship or felt interest in someone else. She would have been hurt, but she would have felt respected by his honesty, and their friendship could have recovered. Now, this guy likely will lose a friend, and by being dishonest he augmented Jill’s pain tremendously.
- Trust people. Just because this happened to Jill, it doesn’t mean that all men are dishonest or that relationships are fraught with disaster. This happened to Jill. Not to everyone.
- Most important of all: YOU are not replaceable. Jill is not. You are not. You are unique in all the world. If someone you desire doesn’t recognize all the special qualities you have or feel the same way about you, or if someone you care about betrays your trust, it doesn’t diminish you one iota. It simply says something about that person. You continue to be wonderful, amazing you.
This still leaves us with Jill’s dilemma. Does she go back to her friend (the woman) and let her know the full story related to the guy in this situation, or does she leave it to fate? Any thoughts?