It happens all the time. You’re sitting at home watching TV alone, praying that someone will call you and invite you to do something so that you don’t die of boredom.
Finally, the phone vibrates!
One of your close friends invites you to go grab a drink and a bite to eat with him/her. You race off of the couch to shower and make yourself presentable. You playback in your head the many nights that you two spent together having the time of your lives. You hope that tonight will be another night like the previous ones. You pull up dressed to the nines, only to find your friend…with his/her significant other. Suddenly, your excitement turns to misery. You convince yourself that you can still try to have a good time. After all, it’s not that you don’t like him/her, you just don’t like that they’re ALWAYS around.
Despite the lack of joy the surprise guest brings, you still try to have a good time. You ignore that s/he only buys drinks for their partner, and you dance alone in the corner while they dance so close together that you can no longer distinguish who is wearing what outfit. You count every awkward minute that you are alone with the significant other as your friend is taking what seems like forever in the restroom. The night finally comes to an end as they walk hand in hand toward their Uber and you walk alone to yours to go back to return to the couch where your night began. If this situation sounds familiar to you, then you, my friend, are the third wheel.
I don’t know about you, but I have never had a good time as a third wheel. Nothing brings out my insecurities like being placed on the back burner by my friends as they elevate someone else in my stead. I know that a lot of my issues stem from my own interpretation of things. I like attention and I hate the thought of having to compete for it.
If I’m being honest with myself, it bothers me that I’m not as significant in my friend’s life as their significant other. Of course, we want our friends to be happy in relationships, but sometimes, the extent of their happiness can, in turn, make us sad. We can start to feel replaced or neglected by our friends. Most times, we stay quiet about how we feel out of fear of them thinking that we are jealous when sometimes, we actually are. How do we effectively convey our feelings to our friends without ruining our friendship?
As with all relationships, communication is one of the most important things. If we want the relationship that we have with our friend not to go sour, we have to effectively communicate how special the relationship is to them. Let your friend know that you would like to spend more time with them alone. Offer to do some of the things that the two of you used to do before the new relationship began. Remind your friend how much you enjoy the times when the two of you are together.
Another helpful hint is to remember the power of the word, “no”. If your friend extends an invitation to you to hang out with them and their partner, you can respectfully decline if you feel uncomfortable. Tell your friend that you would like to schedule a time when the two of you could get together alone. If the friendship is truly important, your friend will make time for you in their life.
This one may be hard, but it can lead to a healthy future. Get to know the significant other. It can be beneficial to every wheel on this tricycle. When I started dating my current boyfriend, I could feel the tension between myself and one of his friends. It was the classic, “if you hurt him, I’ll kill you” conversation.
Yet I knew how important it would be to my boyfriend if I made an effort to be closer with his best friend, and so I did. It started with friend requests on social media followed by liking and commenting on posts and pictures. Before long, he and I developed a separate friendship outside of my boyfriend. Now it is nothing to assume that he will be there when we are going to events. I also am not afraid to express to my boyfriend when I want alone time, and I encourage his friend to do the same when he doesn’t want me there.
Being the third wheel can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship. Be honest with yourself and with your friend, and the relationship can withstand the trials of time. If you are destined to be the third wheel, at least be the one in the front that is leading the other two.