How to Make the Most Out of Being a Third Wheel

When your best friend starts seeing someone new, it often boils down to two options—pretty much never seeing them, or becoming a third wheel.

And while hanging out with a couple on your own isn't always an ideal situation, with the potential for a lot of awkwardness and exclusion, it can actually be a lot of fun, if you know what you're doing. Want to make the most out of being the third wheel? Keep reading to find out how:

Make a New Friend

If you're going to be hanging out with your best friend's significant other all of the time, you might as well befriend them. You just might discover that you really enjoy their company, and soon, you won't be awkwardly tagging along with your bestie and their person, but instead, hanging out with two great friends who happen to be dating. Getting comfortable with this new person can take effort, but through finding common interests, you can build a connection that only strengthens your friend's relationship with them, while lessening any jealousy you might have that they're taking away your friend's attention. And, if you wind up not liking or struggling to see eye to eye with them, that might be a signal that third-wheeling with them isn't for you. You might even want to have a serious discussion with your friend about the relationship. After all, you don't want the people you care about settling down with big jerks.

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Do All Kinds of Hangouts

If you find yourself mostly going out with a couple to events that are basically dates with a third person tacked on, it's likely to get awkward, fast. Instead, work with your best friend to see if you can coordinate casual hangouts more frequently. Maybe that's just going to someone's house to check out a new movie or binge-watch a TV series you're all curious about. Maybe you just want to meet up for lunch or have a homework session. These types of get-togethers are typically the best way to get to know each other so that when the almost-romantic gatherings do happen, they won't drag any of you too far out of your comfort zones.

 

Don't Hog Your Friend

Sometimes, the reason a friend keeps inviting you to hang out with them and their date is because they're still anxious around their new person and you make them feel safe, but don't take this too far. It's not too unusual that they'll want to talk to you and hang out more closely with you than their S.O., but try to remember that's not why you're there. Do what you can not to hog all of your friend's attention, and see if you can bring in their partner if they're being excluded. After all, being a third wheel is, in part, about being a supportive friend. Just like you might get jealous of their date, it's also quite possible that they'll be jealous of you. 

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Set Some Ground Rules

The key to being a happy and successful third wheel is making sure that you're all on the same page, so it can be very helpful to set ground rules with your friend before the big hangout. How comfortable are you giving dating advice? Will you let them know what you think, from the honest perspective of an outsider, even if you get close to both of them? While some people are totally fine with playing the therapist when their couple friends are in a disagreement, others would rather be third parties. You might also want to share what things will make you not want to hang out with them, like if they spend the whole time making out, or never seem to include you in conversations of activities. Remember that you don't really get any say in what goes on in their relationship, but you always have agency over what you'll put up with, and what you won't.

 

Know You Don't Have to Always Third Wheel

Just because you've been invited along to be the third wheel doesn't mean you have to accept every time. Even when you know your friend likes having you around, it's also healthy to give couples their own time together, without you. It can also be helpful to read the room. If you've started feeling like you're being invited just because, and you're no longer adding to the experience or having fun, you shouldn't feel obligated to be there. And definitely don't insist on joining along for every opportunity if you haven't been invited. That's an easy way to start wearing on both parties' nerves.

 

Observe and Learn

One of the most useful things about being a third wheel as the single friend is that it can teach you a lot about dating. Watching your friend and their partner can show you so much about how relationships work—and don't work. What makes them click, and what brings them conflict? What are the mistakes they've made in their relationship that you never plan to make? Both good and bad relationships can be incredibly informative, so don't forget to keep your eyes peeled.

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If you found this advice useful, also be sure to look HERE for a list of the 13 biggest struggles of being a third wheel.