Friendships are funny things. We muddle our way through, bump into people and sometimes we just ‘click’, and a friendship is born. Others we cautiously dance around, sniffing the other out and a friendship grows over time. Some we’ve known since we were kids, and some we’ve met yesterday but feel like we’ve known them forever. Friends are da bomb. We tend to gravitate toward a few and class them as our close friends, while others are more run of the mill friends.
Sometimes though, we’re not the close friend. We’re the other friend. The friend that is great, but just not ‘the’ friend.
Ever felt like that?
It’s the feeling of being the back-up friend.
It’s totes a thing. Might not be in the clinical handbooks, but it happens. A lot. Google search that shit, you’ll see topic after topic of people feeling the same.
The back-up friend is everybody’s friend. People like going to them for a chat, or seeking advice, but just as a bit of a gap filler until a better friend shows up.
It’s like being the bridesmaid. Only you don’t even get asked to be the bridesmaid, you just get asked to come and sit at table 10 down the very back of the wedding reception.
The back-up friend can lurch between being socially fulfilled and socially isolated. Lots of people to chat to, lots of people who come for advice and support, but when the back-up needs some backing up? It’s a tricky sitcho.
It’s not like the back-up friend isn’t liked. Quite the opposite. They’re well liked…. But just not the closest, or the first preference friend.
Why does this happen? Or is this actually the norm? Is the idea of a BFF so romanticised these days in the media that it doesn’t even really exist?
Friendships are hard enough as a kid, but when you grow up, it can be whack. We all tend to live in our heads, pondering what and why and how and when. Adult friendships can be tricky, as we grow and change, we move away, we have kids, we don’t have kids, we get into relationships. All these things can impact. Friendships are things we enter into voluntarily, so we technically should be hanging with people we want to. Only for the back-up friend they might find themselves scrambling to have those closer friendships.
We all want a solid connection with others. Friendships are proven to be healthy for us. They buffer stress, they can release our happy juices (in our head *ahem*), they can help us feel more switched on and focused.But if you don’t feel like you have that solid connection it can be hard. It can be thankless, stressful, mess with your head, and even mess with you physically. So to not have a decent friendship, and to only feel you’re called on when other friends aren’t around can be pretty detrimental to your overall wellbeing. That shit’s gotta stop.
What can you do if you’re a back up friend?
- It might feel like it’s about you, but it’s not. Remember that.
- Look for like minded peeps and focus on them. They’re out there somewhere.
- Test the waters; try to call on the friends you have. Sometimes we don’t ask for the support we actually need. Do they return it? Do they step up? If not, then you could be the back up friend and it’s time to make a change.
- If you are feeling like all you’re good for is a chat when no one else is around, then cut those peeps. You deserve better.
- Check your thought process too. Are you actually being treated as the back-up friend, or is more your perception/paranoia? Sometimes things aren’t quite what they seem.
- Assertiveness is a gem. Polish that shit up and throw it out there. If it doesn’t feel good for you, then assert yourself, yo.
- Connections are great in person, but if that’s not possible look elsewhere. Join online groups, forums, interest boards. You might be able to find better connections there.
- Give new opportunities a chance. Go out for that coffee, try that new bootcamp (or if you’re like me bootcamp really means pub….), you never know what might develop.
And if you can recognise that maybe you do tend to have a few people that you rely on as back-up friends? Try to give back what they give to you. See that they are just as good a friend and deserve to be treated as such. Being a back-up friend is shit, and nobody wants to be in that role.
How about you? Have you ever been the back-up friend? Have you got back-up friends? How do you deal with it all? Adulting is hard.