When he told me he was sleeping with the woman he was renting from, I had mixed feelings. I was jealous, but mainly because of the fact that she had easy access to him, while I could only arrange to get away for time with him once in awhile. I didn’t care that he was having sex with someone else–we all need it, and I fully expected him to take it where he could get it.

What I–stupidly–didn’t anticipate, was being replaced. Which was very naive of me, since by the time he told me he was bedding her, my replacement had already happened.

He was my best friend. We had dated briefly in jr. high, and then, abruptly, he stopped talking to me. I remember being totally heart-broken. I cried for a month. It was losing the connection–that person I could talk to for hours, about anything–that hurt. And now here we are again, experiencing an encore, 16 years later.

I don’t know how to feel. When we started sleeping together we promised no strings. And to me, that meant that we would both continue to be sexually free. That he would date whoever he wanted to, and I could sleep with others (and obviously my husband) if I had the urge, but that we would remain friends. In the months leading up to our encounter, we spent hours a day talking. By the end of the first 3 weeks, we had exchanged over 8000 messages. To say we were close would be an understatement.

We had reconnected over Facebook, and found that we had a lot in common. Not just shared hobbies or goals or a sense of humour, but deep, intimate thoughts, feelings and life experiences linked us. We had lived through the same traumas. We had similarly strained relationships with our families. We felt the same way about the world. We needed the same things. I can’t explain it in words without sounding hollow, but there was a deep understanding there. A mutual “I totally get you–ness”. I couldn’t believe my good luck in finding him again. It felt meant to be. We were both in a dark place and we helped dig each other out. I guess that’s the problem. Depending on another human being for anything at all. And yet, living in isolation is empty and life is all about relationships. So how do you avoid pain without avoiding life? This is why I jumped in head-first.

I knew we would never become permanent, though I wanted it. He deserves more than what I can give him. What I had to offer was fiercely loyal friendship, emotional and mental intimacy, and explosive sex. I couldn’t commit–I am married with kids after all–and he knew that. We both knew that, going in. So did I expect him to put his life on hold, see no one else, and cling to the few stolen moments I could promise him? No. Of course not.

What I did expect–and expectation is always what leads to pain–is to remain his best friend. I fully anticipated him meeting the right person and falling in love. I was braced for the fact that when this happened, things would change. He swore he was not interested in monogamy and that there would always be a place for me, regardless of his relationship status, but I knew better. There are very few women out there who are cool with their partners having sex with someone else, so I knew that at some point that part of us was likely to end. But I told myself it was worth it–to be close to him, to have him in my life, to experience him fully.

And I’m not going to say it wasn’t. Because honestly, the sex has nothing to do with my feelings of abandonment. Even if we had kept our connection emotional and mental, and never slept together, I would be feeling exactly the way I am now: like I’ve lost my best friend.

He told me that when he was at his lowest of lows, I reached in and pulled him out. He was shattered, and I helped put him back together. But I guess now my purpose in his life has been served. Things are better for him. Because of her. “She” is the woman he is renting from now. The one he is banging. The one who has given him a home, and a sense of purpose, and the family he never had but always wanted. And he doesn’t need me anymore.

I didn’t think I was just there to fill in the holes in his life. I thought that even as his life expanded, it would expand to include me. That even if he was not experiencing excruciating, all-encompassing pain, that even if he was not lonely, he would still want to talk to me. He would continue our “best friendship” because he enjoyed our talks and our intimacy. He would continue to want me sexually, just as I wanted him even though I had my husband, because our connection was a powerful one. But I guess a warm body is a warm body and a listening ear is a listening ear.

The thing is, motherfucker, that I am not replaceable. Maybe he thinks I am. Clearly, in his life, I was. But I know that I am not. You cannot just lift me out and drop a woman-shaped alternate in.

There is only one me, and I am damn amazing.

9 Comments on “Replaced”

  1. This is almost exactly word-for-word what happened to me and my best friend. We had been “together” for more than twenty years. Started having an affair in 2009-2010, and in July of 2010 he found “Linda”, who he admitted was not and never would be a soul-connection, but was a good companion and available — which I was not because I am married with children. It took us two years to get over the anguish of breaking up, but we are finally back on solid footing, although we don’t talk more than once a month…and we used to be in constant contact.
    So, in short, I’m sorry. It hurts. I have tried to remember that everything is impermanent and attachments are painful to break. But I still miss him. I miss talking to him. I miss knowing everything first before anyone else. But I also take solace in the fact that Linda is not me. And he knows it.

    • I’m so sorry you went through that too, though it’s nice to have someone who can understand what it’s like to lose someone close to them in a situation like that. I wonder how many friendships have been destroyed by affairs?

      I have a female friend I mess around with sometimes but though we are close the connection is different so I know I would never lose her like this over it. I have definitely learned my lesson–I will never again get sexual with someone I have that kind of relationship with.

      • My mother died in late 2010, and the grief I felt over losing S was far worse than the grief I felt over her death. It was a black hole.

        I have a new best friend, and we have both vowed that we will never even so much as kiss. It changes the relationship. Even if you try to keep it no-strings, there is still some sense of “ownership” and it complicates matters when one or the other of us gets involved with someone else.

      • I am so sorry you were hurt so badly 😦

      • Meh. Live and learn!

  2. alleyg8r says:

    That’s the problem with the phrase, “I’ll always be there for you”–because in an affair, at some point, you WON’T be there…because, unfortunately, other priorities will at some point take precedence.

    I felt this way after my break-up as well…that I had been replaced. I’m glad you’re being fierce about it–because he is NOT replacing you. But his needs have changed, and maybe his re-entry in your life was transitory because, in the long run, that’s what YOU needed it to be.

    I hope that someday you can look back and appreciate what you had without so much pain. It takes a while, but eventually you get there.

  3. I would have to agree, the loss of friendship is the most eviscerating. Everything else is in the periphery of it. Knock any one of those things out of orbit and the loss would be felt, but not devastating. Take away the core and absolutely everything looses its meaning. And that’s what hurts the most. Its a rotten thing and I’m sorry when anyone has to go though it.

  4. […] thought I hit rock bottom once. Then again, and then once more. But it has become clear to me that I have no idea what rock bottom […]

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