What do you have to say about the fear of being replaced as someone’s best friend?
First please allow me the grace to shamelessly plug a sermon I just preached last week on biblical friendship.
The hard truth is that friendships can change, sometimes overnight, and can drift apart for no other reason than time or life. Whether or not you’re actively being “replaced” or the seasons just turn, people move on with or without each other. It’s not that they’re your enemy, but that life happens. I do believe in lifetime enduring friendships, but they are a rare bonus blessing that requires a near-perfect mix of variables to work.
While I completely understand your fear of losing a friend or the position of “best-friend,” let’s define this term: best friend. I get what it means, but sometimes it’s a restrictive device as if to say, “I better be the only one you talk to” or “You can only come to me for help” or “Don’t laugh so much with someone else.” It can imply ownership or possession or obsession. It can be very unhealthy.
Often the “fear” of losing a position with your friend is nothing more than Satan or sin wedging a rift between you two when there really isn’t one.
Also: I have a few best friends, but I realize I’m not the only friend in their lives nor the only one they should talk to. If someone can give better advice than me, my job as a friend is to humble myself and step out of the way. If they giggle more or open up more or do more fun stuff with someone else, then me being jealous doesn’t somehow make things better or score extra friendship points. In fact, it makes me look crazy. Not good-crazy, either.
A best friend is NOT someone who fulfills every need and role perfectly, because that’s an impossible expectation. We can’t delegate ourselves to be one friend’s counselor, movie-buddy, dinner-pal, and crying-shoulder all at once. In other words: You can’t be everything your friend wants you to be, and vice versa. So you and your friend need room for other friends.
Maybe we should re-define the term “best friend,” which can become unfair and unjust. We should never use it to say, They’re not treating me like they used to! Instead we could mean: I want to promote and respect and sanctify my friend because I love them even when things change.
Oh man, do things change. Expect it, and talk openly about it when it happens. You might have heard the term “friendshift.” It’s a simple change of axis or orbits. One day you or your friend might get married; one day you or him might move away; you might get a new job requiring long hours; you or him might end up with sharply different doctrines; it could just be you both talk less and less. Friends can part ways or change roles, and we should adapt to those changes and not see them as an offense or insult.
I have a friend who in high school would “have my back” no matter what, any time, anywhere. He is married now. I wouldn’t expect that of him anymore, and it was probably unreasonable to expect that before anyway. He has to think about his wife, his future family, his bills, his house. I support that. I support him regardless of how our axis changes.
One thing I mention in the sermon is that every enduring friendship is built on truth. In other words, say it how it really is to build your friend up. A friendship falls apart when someone is afraid to say the truth about themselves or about each other. Be honest, tell the truth in love, say what’s up, and be reasonable.
You might find that your insecurity was a false expectation, a flat-out lie to yourself, and that evaluating on a criteria-scale was unfair of you. Or you might need to have a talk that things are changing, that it’s okay, and you’ll both work through it even if it can’t be the same again. Tell the truth in love, because that’s how love works. That’s how friends roll.