Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be the person on the side? The one whom people in a relationships openly flirt with and whose feelings no one actually cares about?
I guess you could resume those feelings to the metaphor of being a simple and unavoidable human casualty, resulting from an unhealthy and unhappy relationship you never asked to be part of.
From my personal experiences in the position of the outside player, I’ve realized that people in a relationship do not seem to be aware of the way they treat outsiders. Because of the instantaneous means that social media now offers, communication and all kind of games have become much easier to participate in without feeling responsible about it. It starts with just a quick snap. An innocent private message. But then it quickly becomes much more, and games are taken to a whole other level –one which would never actually be reached in a face to face conversation.
A lot of us think they can get away with anything -and everything- because of how some of those images or messages can be deleted in less than 2 seconds. And in reality, they are right to think so- because our behavior once caught up in their games can only reinforce that belief. At the end of the day, having gotten you or not, they have a significant other to go back to, who has no idea of the interactions they’ve had with you.
There are several things that hurt when you are considered as an option B:
First of all, you are their option B. Or C, who knows. And that simple mathematical fact never leaves your mind and always makes you feel like you are not good enough to be their option A (which really doesn’t make sense to me as they are the ones with much more at stake.) Yet you will very likely never end up being their significant other and will remain – to their eyes – a side thing. A casualty.
Second of all, your feelings and opinions never matter. You may be sentimentally involved and actually care about that person, but they don’t care about you. Or maybe they do but still end up badly hurting you, unconsciously. And you are too caught up in the game to realize it until it hits you; they’re just lonely and are using you to feel better or to get distracted. Whilst you actually care and value them as more than you should, you are in no way special to them. You are replaceable.
Thirdly, it is exclusively one-sided. And that fact also only hits you once it is too late. For some reason, you manage to believe (or convince yourself) that there is something more to it going on, as if you are just two people genuinely caring and looking after one another. But the truth is that you are the one looking after the both of you, and that no one has your back. You are the one investing all your efforts and feelings into whatever that is. But once you give up, which you eventually do, it instantaneously fades away and no one will fight for you. No one will try to prove you wrong. No one will make you feel like you were more than a side game. Because that’s what you always were.
Fourthly, you are your own feelings’ prisoner. Even though your rational is telling you to stop allowing yourself to be treated this way, your impulsive feelings are already caught up deep in the game and make you feel too weak to quit. Because you have let yourself fall into this, you have grown feelings that have no reason to be. And you find yourself caring about and sensitive to this other person, which makes you unable to think and behave rationally. You become a prisoner at the mercy of your own feelings.
Fifthly, you let it happen -and end- multiple times. It’s happening and you are actively playing, but you start to feel worse and worse about yourself. It’s getting harder for you to accept the situation as it is; you are unhappy. You have grown feelings and you eventually can’t take it anymore so you express how you feel. No one cares. It ends. Until either of you reaches out again. And both are tempted. And before you even know it, you are back to step one of the game and the dices are rolled again.
And finally, you are actively nurturing and perpetuating a situation that involves more than just the two of you. And it’s unfair and disrespectful to you, but also to that innocent and unaware significant one. Even though you are caught up in that illusory fulfilling and exciting interaction, you know that someone else’s wellbeing will eventually end up being tragically impacted. And when you finally allow yourself to step into that third person’s shoes, you realize that you cannot continue to be part of this atrocity: as selfish as your actions may portray you as, you would never wish to anyone’s pseudo significant other to be treated and considered like that. Especially to yourself.
I have been there.
And I have let a few people treat me in ways I should never have allowed. The first times, entirely unconsciously, drowned in the belief that I would be able to change the way things were, hoping I could help the person who was playing with me because I cared. But as I recently became more conscious and aware of what unpromising circling situation I was finding myself into, I decided to examine my feelings deeper to undertake this psychological reflection and grow out of it. It took me quite some time to face myself and cut the games, yet I always deeply knew I deserved better – much much better. I was just drowned into feelings that I should have never developed in the first place.
If you ever find yourself in the shoes of the casualty, remember your self-worth, but also your values and principles. Never allow one to disrespect you nor use you in such a way, especially when it involves more than the two of you. Don’t let the game become more than what it is by always being on the lookout when starting conversations with people who have a significant other. Remain skeptical and very clear to avoid creating any quid pro quo or sending ambiguous signals –to ultimately avoid ever putting yourself in such a position.
You can decide to not start playing if the cards are still in your hands. But as soon as you start rolling the dices, you have already lost. Save yourself while you can, before you loose your pride, your honor, and yourself.
If, on the other hand, you identify yourself as the relationship player: stop reaching out and hurting another person as a way to escape from your relationship’s issues. Don’t take down someone innocent and genuine out of selfishness, and out of ease. Don’t include a third player who never asked to be part of your relationship’s sickness. Face yourself and your problems. Ask yourself why you have the deep need to escape from your relationship and involve a third party. But make sure to put your relationship and its problems first, before causing any human casualty.