Micky shares the pros and cons of being the ‘third wheel’ amongst her friends who are coupled up, talking candidly and humorously from her experience.
Third Wheel Definition: a person who spends time with a couple; often this will be a significant amount of time.
Currently, I am single and really embrace the solo lifestyle. However, many of my friends are in relationships, which inevitably leads to the ‘third wheel’ situation arising. Being in my 20s means that this is often the reality for me, and being labelled the ‘single friend’, or the ‘third wheel’, is something I have become accustomed to. There are two ways of embracing these labels. Either feeling incredibly awkward most of the time and making others feel the same in the process. Or, making a joke out of the situation, and really making the most of spending time with friends!
Fun fact about myself- I have never not been the third wheel. So, from a self-proclaimed ‘third wheel’ expert here are the pros and cons of being a third wheel, and how to overcome the potential awkwardness.
The Pros and Cons of Being
The Third Wheel
Pro: The freedom
This is potentially the greatest advantage of being the third wheel! If you’re in a relationship, then you are duty-bound to stick with your other half, but when you are the third wheel there is no such expectation! Personally, I really don’t like having an expectation to spend time with another person (some weeks I want to be around people all the time, other weeks I want to be alone). The beauty of being single is that you can work to your schedule, and not have to worry about anyone else. Spending time with friends who are part of a couple really isn’t particularly problematic and can in fact be a lot of fun!
Con: It can get lonely
Despite the freedom, there is no denying that being around a couple can get lonely. My housemate and one of my best friends are in a relationship and I spend a lot of time with them because we’re all close to each other. But it can be hard to see a really happy relationship blossom and know you don’t have one yourself.
Lockdowns had perhaps emphasised this feeling, as we couldn’t just spend time with whoever we wanted. Obviously, there are many times when my two friends want to spend time alone with each other, and this is when the loneliness can hit hard, as I sit in my room reading a book realising, I don’t have that person to spend time with!
Pro: Gain more friends
More times than not, you’re good friends with one half of the couple, and hardly know the other half. This can be incredibly awkward at first, but it is also an amazing opportunity to make new friends! Chances are that the person your friend is in a relationship with will have similar values and interests to you. This means that you are very likely to get on with their partner, thus gaining a new friend!
It’s also worth reminding yourself that you’re not the only one who finds meeting the new boyfriend/ girlfriend difficult. The new partner will likely be conscious that you’ve known their boyfriend/ girlfriend for longer than they have. The awkwardness can swing in both directions!
The words polyamorous, threesome and even ‘throuple’ have all been mentioned. Sometimes in a joking manner, other times with a more serious edge. Although, it is worth mentioning that t rarely happens; but when it does, you really want the floor to swallow you up!
As with most of the couples I’ve third wheeled I have been really good friends with both of them. It’s not unusual to go to dinner together, or even watch a film. For the past four years, I have lived in shared accommodation, so usually we have to go to someone’s room (you can see where the aforementioned assumptions might arise…) Luckily, we find these presumptions really funny, and don’t let them bother us. However, they are worth bearing in mind, especially if you don’t think you’d be able to find the funny side. You’ve been warned!
Pro: You always have an ally
Being the third wheel means you always have an ally when debates start! Rarely do the couple side against you. Instead, they’re more likely to debate against each other!
Con: The chance of PDAs
Public displays of affection have caught me out a few times, and are undeniably the most awkward third wheel moment. I don’t mind the odd kiss or even handholding, but sometimes they can go a bit far. Part of being the third wheel is to see ‘couply’ things. In fact, you should expect that. However, some couples really don’t seem to understand that you don’t want front row seats to their making-out moments!
In my experience, it tends to be with new relationships when this becomes an issue. When they are in the ‘honeymoon’ period where they only have eyes for each other. So, some advice is to be the third wheel when a couple has been in a relationship for a few years. In general, most couples are aware not to do PDA when you are around. Besides, you’re all friends, and part of being friends is to be considerate to one another!
Commonly, there is an awful lot of negative press towards the concept of being a third wheel. There is the inevitable cringe that comes with the realisation that you’ve become the third wheel to a couple, but then the outcome is up to you! If you can make a joke out of it and embrace your newfound role, then you have some great times ahead of you. Just bear in mind that every couple will want time without you, and you have to respect that space! As with any friendship or relationship, there are pros and cons, but I would ultimately say that being a third wheel is great!