Many people struggle with the notion of being replaceable. We like to feel that we can’t be substituted with ease. That we mattered enough that someone else won’t be able to seemingly take over where we left off. We recognise that, OK, our ex is going to move on if we’re no longer together. That’s a given. But we want them to do it in a way that doesn’t disrespect the relationship we shared with them. When we discover, for example, that our ex moved on before the end of the relationship (known as overlapping), or that they had someone else in their mind and/or bed within hours or days of us leaving, it burns. We feel replaceable instead of realising that the person is clearly avoidant.
People who base their value on how replaceable they feel also live in fear of it. They expend most of their efforts while dating and in relationships on 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 trying to do, it’s 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. We 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’re not ourselves. Knowing our worth and are living our values, boundaries, and basically being ourselves isn’t our priority. We get too caught up in looking at others 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 (us) and not look elsewhere. If they mention that they didn’t like something last time, the editing begins. 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”.
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 trying to be the replacement. It’s what fuels many an affair. We want the person we’re involved with to remove the other party from their role because obviously, something is “wrong” with that person. Note: this may very well not be the case at all and blames the other party for the cheater’s actions. We regard us as the better option, and we want to be the replacement. We want their current partner’s 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. 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. We ignore the fact that when we’re around them, we live in fear of being 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. We have a Choose Me mentality. We want the role of The Next Big Thing.
There’s a lot of problems 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 carrying on as if this person who 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 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 to fill it.
When we have a replacement mentality, we keep making the mistake of assuming that if someone is out of a role, then it’s because they’re not “good enough”. It’s the flawed and painful assumption that we have 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. And round and round we go, lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s not a job vacancy! It’s a mutual relationship!
This is why it’s crucial to decide who we are and get on with this first and foremost. We mustn’t move through this world as if we have no agency. Like everyone else gets to impose their wishes upon us.
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. Not more or less than anyone else; as much as everyone else.
Trying to be a replacement gets us into filling roles gets us into pretending. Who has that kind of time?
Also, we must be careful of the replacement double standard. 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. That goes for competing with harem, too. 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.
They don’t own us, and we don’t own them.
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 their ex or future partner(s) 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, we’re basically trying to give someone the same relationship in a different or slightly enhanced package, even if that relationship isn’t right for us or them.
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