The Third Wheel’s Guide To Friendship

The only thing worse than being a third wheel to your friends who are in a relationship is being a third wheel to two best friends — which seems to happen a lot.

I’m a person who really appreciates having strong friendships and good friends, so I’ve become really good at knowing quickly who I’m going to be friends with and have learned how and when to cut toxic people out of my life. Some annoying part of me has always gravitated to couples of friends, though, and I’ve found myself being the unnecessary third leg of the group.

Usually I kind of get myself into these situations. It starts when, out of the goodness of my heart, I introduce two of my friends to each other. Then, they magically click, get super close and become best friends — leaving me to trail behind them wanting to wear a sign that says “LOVE ME.” I’m sitting alone in the backseat, walking behind them because the sidewalk was made for two and constantly feeling a little paranoid with a voice in the back of my mind whispering, Maybe they don’t really like you at all, you’re the third wheel, unnecessary and a bit annoying.

In the past my first instinct would’ve been to lie in bed, declare myself friendless and start building up a little bit of resentment towards my friends and the me who introduced them to each other, but recently I came to the realisation that it doesn’t have to be like that. The situation was never as hopeless as I made it out to be in my late night journal entries. So I decided to make a guide for myself, and other people out there like me, on how not to feel like a third wheel friend.

Rufaro’s (Almost) Perfect Guide To Third Wheeling

Talk to Your Friends

Most of the time your friends don’t even realise that they’re making you feel like a third wheel, so just tell them how you feel. As cliché as it is, communication really is the most important thing in every relationship. So tell your friends how you feel and why you feel that way, and if you can, try to talk to both of them at the same time. It’s weird how scary I found telling people how they made me feel was. I didn’t want to seem like I was getting upset about a petty thing and certainly didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, but real friends don’t want you to feel like you can’t tell them what’s on your mind, and if they respond in a way that make you regret telling them, you may want to re-evaluate why you’re in that friendship.

Example conversation:

YN: Guys I feel a bit left out here.

Friend 1: What do you mean?

YN: Like, sometimes I feel like I’m the third wheel just tagging along.

Friend 2: We didn’t realise you felt like that. We should make more plans as a three.

Friend 1: Yeah you should have told us sooner.

Introduce More People to Your Group

I like having a small group of friends, but in situations where I felt like a third wheel this didn’t really work. I think by growing your group of friends or having more friends outside of your “main group,” you kind of stop yourself from feeling like a third wheel because you know that you have other people who love and support you that you can hang out with at other times. But in the process of building new friendships, make sure that you don’t make those other friends feel like third wheels when they’re with you and your other friends. Nobody likes feeling like they’re the odd one out.

Actively Make Group Plans

I am the absolute worst at making plans, but coincidentally am the first to feel hurt when not invited. A lot of the times, we make ourselves the third wheel by not really getting involved and waiting to be invited. Whether you just go out with those two friends or make plans for your larger group of friends, it’s important to do activities that make everyone feel involved. Also, you’re less likely to feel like you’re tagging along when you’re the one inviting people

Make Sure Your Friendships With Both of Them Are Strong

You don’t want to lose valuable friendships over a thing like this. Strengthen your friendships with your friends separately, so instead of being friends with the best friends, you have two really good friends who you hang out with and speak to separately as much as you do when they’re together.

Accept That These Things Happen, Be Happy for Them, Be a Grown-Up and Move On

When it comes to friendship, it’s easy to feel like you’re a 10-year-old back in the playground screaming “YOU CAN’T JUST LEAVE ME” (or maybe that’s just me). But with third wheel friend situations, it’s important to step back and accept that sometimes things work out differently to the way we would’ve planned ourselves — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our friendships change constantly and instead of feeling jealous and betrayed, we should try to be happy for our friends whose friendships are blossoming.

Feeling like a third wheel is going to happen at some point to any of us, but don’t let it make you feel like any less of a person or that you’re not good enough. Hopefully your friends understand and things get better. If they don’t, that’s okay because the world is filled with great people just as amazing as you who’re waiting to find their new BFF.

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