Playing The Substitute Game. Part 2.
In part 1, we talked about the characteristics of substitutes and reasons why people go into substitute relationships. But what happens if you are not be playing the substitute game but your partner is? He/she might not even know it. Your duty as a good partner is to notice this signs and then try to work through the issues that might be making your partner to try to replace you with a substitute.
Signs that your partner may be playing the substitute game.
1. Diminished interest in your affairs: He/she routinely forgets details about your affairs and is no longer interested in what concerns you.
2. Not jealous: A little amount of jealously is healthy. If your partner does not care at all even when he is aware that you are obviously being chased by another person, then this might be a sign that he has found a substitute for you that he is beginning to care about.
3. Faultfinding: The partner begins to be more critical of you and complains a lot. This is possibly because he/she is looking for an excuse to run from the relationship.
4. Secretive: He/she no longer wants to tell you about their affairs
5. Diminished interest in communicating or making out time to be together: This might be one of the earliest signs. Your partner might not be able to juggle making out time for both you and the substitute.
6. Lying: If your partner begins to give excuses that you know are inherently false, because he/she is trying to cover up something, a substitute may be in the background.
These signs are by no means conclusive that there is a substitute in the picture but they all indicate that there is a problem with the relationship. It would do no good to try to pretend and tell yourself that everything is fine. Have a honest talk with your partner and try to appraise your relationship. Perhaps there are some things that you will have to change. Consider working on that and get your partner to agree to work on his/her own issues also. If he or she refuses to work on the issues, you might have to re-evaluate the relationship.
No one is immune to the charms of the substitute. They are within easy reach and their availability is a key factor in getting people hooked. Having said that, there’s s a need to try to prevent ourselves from falling into the substitution trap. No one is saying we must not have friends of the opposite sex(life would be pretty boring without such friends) but we need to be careful not to allow those friendships hurt ourselves or others.
Tips on how to avoid entering the substitution game.
1. Define your friendships: This can never be overemphasized. Every friendship should have its own boundaries. If they are well established in the beginning, there is less likelihood that your friend becomes a substitute relationship. If boundaries do get crossed, going back to the definition of your friendship would be a good way to stop any complications from happening.
2. Avoid going out on unofficial dates with your friend: Lessen the amount of time you spend looking like a couple with this friend of yours. Apart from the fact that you hear the uncomfortable questions it allows your subconscious to begin to see these person as a partner. If you must go out with the person then try to go out in groups and do not single the person out for any special attention
3. Limit your contact time: Perhaps you have no choice but to see this person daily, may be due to the fact that you work closely together or share a flat. That may be understandable. But must this person spend five hours with you on a daily basis and then keep texting and calling you whenever you are apart? It’s a sign that the handshake is extending beyond the elbow. You need to put an end to it.
4. Talk it out: Perhaps you have tried to limit your contact time and avoid going out on dates but this person still does not seem to get the hint. This might be a time to have a honest talk with the person and let him/her know that you are off limits.
5. Communicate with your partner: Your partner should be able to know a lot of your friends especially your close ones. If you are feeling like this friendship is encroaching on your relationship, let your partner know about it. At the very least, it would make you more accountable to your partner and you are less likely to make serious mistakes.
6. Break up: This is like the hardest thing to do but if you have tried all options and the substitute problem is getting bigger than you can handle, then you might need to break up the friendship especially if it is beginning to affect your relationship.
In some cases, the so called substitute is a good friend that you might actually be interested in pursuing a relationship with provided that the two of you are unattached. Instead of carrying out a pseudo relationship where you are unsure of the other’s intentions, lay your cards on the table. And make a decision based on that. It’s always best never to assume. If the other party is not ready to commit, then treat him/her the way you would treat someone acting as a substitute. Sometimes a total break might be best in these cases.
A friend described playing the substitution game as a rehearsal for adultery. I felt that was a harsh statement but looking a little more closely at it, the statement does seems to hold water. Those who look for substitutes in their relationship are more likely to look for other substitutes when they have spouses and what is that, if not adultery? I’d like to reiterate that sticking with the player God has given you gives you a better chance of winning in this game of life. Don’t let yourself be tempted to look at the grass on the other side. Yours can look even better if you’re willing to give it what it takes.