Third Wheel Problems

You just got invited to join some friends on a casual outing to the movies. God forbid the event with four friends (two being a couple) crumbles when that fourth person cancels. You are no longer hanging out, catching up, or chilling with buds. It is officially a couple’s outing plus a tag along …   YOU!

How to Avoid?

1) Cancel. Sounds simple enough.

Cancelling plans may sound like a rash decision, but sometimes it’s necessary. I have two friends in a relationship stage one might describe as ‘The Budding Romance’. This means you can expect a strong chance of giggles and whispers, severe goo-goo eyes, and mild showering of kisses. I classify this as a CATEGORY 4 awkward situation. How am I supposed to thoroughly enjoy Hugh Jackman’s bulging bare chest as steel pierces from his knuckles while smooches are exchanged beside me? You’re right, I can’t.

2) Call your go-to friend.

Your go-to friend is that one person who will join any set of plans last minute. Once your go-to person is involved, the party number is even, and the playing field is level. If the couple wants to chat, you chat with your go-to friend. If the couple wants to share popcorn, you share popcorn with your go-to friend. Do you see where I’m going with this?

If avoidance is not your style then I encourage you to embrace the situation.

How to Embrace?

1) Bring up embarrassing stories.

The quickest way to level the awkward atmosphere is to make EVERYONE embarrassed. This sounds like a disaster but the laughter generated from the stories will stifle any romance in the air. I advise you to include your own embarrassing story to avoid coming off as a jerk.

**Note: This only works if…

           A) The couple has dated for a while.                      OR

           B) You are personally friends with both members.

Do not ruin his chances of keeping his girlfriend by revealing his obsession with redheads.

2) Strategic seating.

To reduce the likeliness of handholding, arm cuddling, and potential kisses, you have to make a conscious effort to manage the seating arrangements. In a movie theatre? Sit in the middle. At a restaurant? Make them sit on opposite sides of the booth. On a rollercoaster? Forget them, and enjoy 45 seconds of uninterrupted excitement! You want to optimize the flow of conversation by minimizing their opportunities to suck face.

3) Distract. Distract. Distract.

Last summer I went to the movies to see Green Lantern with two friends (whom I will name John and Jane). John and Jane are not usually an overly affectionate couple but it oozes out every once in a while.  That day, it chose to ooze out during that lull before a movie starts. I had to act fast. With the current wave of technology, most people are fortunate enough to have a mini arcade in their pocket. In situations like these, I thank God for Steve Jobs and the creation of the iPhone. The fifteen minutes of empty time was then filled with group participation in the Family Feud app. Nothing squashes affection faster than some healthy competition!

These strategies can be very successful when executed properly. Its effectiveness stretches beyond the ‘puppy-love’ couple and onto the ‘seasonal bickerers’. I find the third wheel experience to be even more awkward with a couple who squabble than a couple who gladly drown in their own affections. Since every couple is different, you will have to determine the severity of the third wheel awkwardness and plan your course of action accordingly.

Feel free to try some of my strategies, and let me know how it goes!



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tloafs
    May 30, 2012 @ 08:01:14

    I showed this to my sister, she couldn’t agree more lol This is a great post and I keep showing it to everyone I know. I have no critique for this post just because it’s so awesome lol 😛 thank you for posting this!


  2. limeypeach
    Jun 17, 2012 @ 16:54:42

    I love this post because it is such a common thing to happen. I can really relate to this, mainly by number of times that I’ve either been the third wheel and felt uncomfortable or had a friend who I put in that situation and had to “brief” them before hand.
    However it does make for a good story as you can see by your blog. Your post is easy to read and to the point, I love that you’ve managed to make awkward situations sound humorous.


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