What happens when your friend becomes involved with a new love, but you’re still single? You could wind up being a third wheel. You might find yourself tagging along on their dinner dates or spending your evenings watching TV alone instead of hanging out with your friend.
While being in a relationship with one person can be complicated, interacting with a couple can test your patience and your friendship!
Learn how to be a third wheel without feeling like you’re in the way.
Dealing With Your Own Feelings
Much of your discomfort may be caused by how you’re interpreting the situation. Do you feel like you’re missing out on something when you’re not dating anybody?
Try these activities to discover how to be single without being lonely:
- Boost your self-esteem. Base your self-worth on something more valid than your relationship status. Think about your purpose in life and how to align your actions with your values. Set challenging goals and take specific steps each day that will help you reach them.
- Meet new friends. Now that your friend is dating, you may realize that you have become a little over-dependent on them. Try broadening your circle. Strike up a conversation with one of your neighbors or join a Meetup group for hiking or attending concerts.
- Develop a hobby. Put your extra free time to productive use. Learn how to play badminton or study a foreign language.
- Work on your love life. It’s okay to want a romantic relationship as long as you also know how to enjoy your own company. You might even find that hanging out with a couple helps you to get introduced to new prospects or look more approachable.
- Speak up. Figure out what boundaries you need for displays of public affection and other issues. Talk with your friend before minor conflicts build up.
Dealing With the Happy Couple
Being a third wheel doesn’t have to mean feeling conspicuous and intrusive.
Try these strategies for socializing with your friend and their significant other:
- Create some distance. If your friend’s relationship is still in the initial infatuation stage, you’ll probably want to leave them alone for a while. Enjoy your independence while it lasts.
- Arrange comfortable dates. When you’re ready to go out as a group, pick spots that are third-wheel friendly. Concerts and coffee shops will probably feel less awkward than intimate restaurants and romantic comedy movies.
- Bring along more support. Maybe three’s a crowd, but you can blend into a larger group. If you have more than 3 people, it’s hard to say who the third wheel is.
- Stay neutral. Any couple is bound to quarrel sometimes. Protect your peace of mind and your friendship by letting your friend and her significant other sort out their own conflicts.
- Respect confidentiality. On the other hand, there are also times when it’s advantageous to lend your services to either member of the happy couple. Maybe your friend needs a sounding board. Maybe the new love wants advice for choosing a romantic birthday gift.
- Be inclusive. While you’re used to talking with your friend, you may need to shift the conversation so a newcomer can participate. Show a genuine interest in learning more about them.
- Carve out private time. As long as you respect the new relationship, it’s natural to want some time alone with your friend. Go shopping or schedule a weekly coffee date.
Many single adults go through at least one bout of third wheel syndrome and continue to lead happy and productive lives. If you’re honest with yourself and tactful with your happy couple, you may even wind up with a closer friendship and a healthier perspective on relationships.