How to Avoid Being a Third Wheel

Nothing feels worse than being the third wheel; especially if it's around people you want to know better! Follow these instructions, and you can be on the top!


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    Give your friend some space. Though it may hurt, you should assess the situation and realize that your friend needs some alone time with his or her new squeeze, especially at first. Tread lightly as your friend figures out the dynamics of the new relationship, but don't worry that you'll never see your friend again.
    • Cut down on your usual texting and phone conversations. Your friend may not be able to communicate with you as often in order to make room for his or her new love. Don't be offended--this is only natural.
    • Let your friend make more of the calls. Though you can still reach out with a few invitations, let your friend do more of the inviting as her relationship develops.
    • Remember that your friend still needs you. If your friend and her new boyfriend ask you to hang out, you should join them when it feels right, and reciprocate their invitations. A relationship is a two-way street and your friend will still expect to hear from you.
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    Branch out. Though you can still hang out with your friend and his or her plus-one, it's great to have more hang-out options so you don't have to sit home on a Saturday night while your friend is away on a romantic weekend. Though you will miss your friend, you can keep busy by pursuing new activities or making new friends.
    • Use this as an opportunity to pursue a new interest or a hobby. You can join a bowling league or a book club and will have fun learning something new.
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    • Do something your friend would never do with you. Is your friend terrified of heights while you've always wanted to go mountain climbing? Is she vegetarian, while you've wanted to check out the new seafood place down the street? This could be your chance to explore a new interest.
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    • Turn old acquaintances into new friendships. Have you been friendly with the girl in your English class, but have never spent time with her outside your classroom, or did you recently run into someone you knew in high school who just moved to your neighborhood? Now you have an opening for spending time with new people who may turn into close friends.
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    • Alone time is always valuable. If you're trying to branch out but still find yourself with much more free time now that your best friend is MIA, use this as an opportunity for some good old "me time." You can read that long book you never had a chance to finish, treat yourself to an at-home pedicure and manicure, or explore that new TV show that your best friend refused to watch. Don't be sad about being by yourself--see it as time to grow as a person and pursue your interests.
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    Make one-on-one time to see your friend. It's important to keep up the solo friendship with your friend, even if the new couple in question is attached at the hip. It'll be easier to keep the dynamics of your friendship strong, and to be yourself, if you have time to see your friend without her beau.
    • Make time for the activities that you and your friend love to do, which may not appeal to the new significant other, such as watching your favorite classic movie together. This is a better option than encroaching on your friend's dating time.
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    • Plug a weekly meeting into your schedules. It can be helpful to set up a new routine now that your friend spends so much time with his or her significant other. You can schedule a weekly dinner or drinks date, or a time to do a sport or activity you both love--and if your friend's week is just too busy sometimes, make sure to at least plan for a Sunday phone date, even if you're just catching up.
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    Don't make things awkward. You may feel a little weird about being the third wheel, but drawing attention to this fact will only make things worse. If your friend and her boyfriend are constantly reminded that you're not part of a couple, then your friend will be calling it an early night.
    • When you are hanging out with the new couple, you should avoid mentioning that you are "the third wheel" or "the single one"--this will make them feel uncomfortable.
    • If you're single, you can certainly make jokes about it, but if you repeatedly make comments like, "I know I'll never find a love like yours," the new couple may feel guilty and will be less inclined to hang out with you. If you're too busy acting sorry for yourself to enjoy their company, then they may realize they are better off as a duo.
    • Remember that you should still be assertive if the new couple is acting out of line. If they are having a hot-and-heavy make-out session right in front of you, then you should say something, but otherwise, it's better to just roll with the punches.
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    Hang out with the new couple under the right circumstances. If you want to have fun with the new couple, you should pick you-friendly activities so you don't feel left out. There is a time and a place for everything--even for being the third wheel.
    • Anything that screams "romance" should be avoided--this can range from taking a stroll through the rose gardens or having a candle-lit meal at the new French restaurant down the street with the new couple. Even if your friend insists that it'll be fine, use your judgment when you agree to certain outings.
    • Activities that can be enjoyed in a big group are the safest. Joining your friend and her new boyfriend to play beach volleyball with a group of friends or to enter your team of six into a local pub quiz may be the most fun because every person will have something to contribute.
    • Hang out only if your friend really wants you to be there. Read your friend's tone to see if she's inviting you out of obligation or if she really wants to see you. If she invited you to hang out with her and her new boyfriend out of pity, then none of you will have a good time.
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    Use your friend's new significant other to your advantage. Though the new relationship may be a letdown to you at first, see it as an opportunity to improve your own romantic life. Whether you're looking for a new girlfriend or boyfriend, your friend's new love interest may help you find a special someone of your own.
    • If you're on the hunt for a new girlfriend, then maybe your best friend's new lady can introduce you to some of her single friends, or play wing woman when you go out.
    • Or if you respect your best friend's new boyfriend and are looking for a guy of your own, you can ask his opinion about what guys really think.
    • Your friend's new relationship can be an opportunity to ask your latest crush to go out on a low-pressure double date. If you're shy about asking, you can use the couple as an excuse. You can say your friends have a dinner reservation for four or an extra movie ticket, and see if your crush wants to tag along.
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    Think of it as a friendship test. Remember that if your best friend is really best friend, she will always be there for you at the end of the day. No relationship should get in the way of your incredible bond.
    • Be patient--but not forever. Though it's okay for your friend to go into obsessive-love mode for a little while, if your supposed best friend has left you high and dry after her first date, then maybe she wasn't your best friend after all.
    • If your friend goes missing every time he or she has a new love interest, then this may be a red flag that you are only a placeholder in his or her life.


  • Develop a sign for you and the new couple, to indicate that they are about to cross a boundary.
  • Don't overthink it. Chances are you might not really be a third wheel. If your friend and his or her significant other repeatedly invite you to hang out, they must enjoy your company or they are just inviting you out of kindness.
  • Don't sweat it. If you realize that you're third-wheeling, hang out with different friends until their date is over.


  • A relationship can change a person. If you don't like the way your friend is acting around his or her significant other, you should have a conversation about it. If your friend is still talking in baby talk during most of the time you spend with her and her new boyfriend, you are always free to leave.

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Categories: Family Friends and Dating