Surviving… The Third Wheel Syndrome


It happens, whether it is intentional or not. You become a third wheel when your best friends start new relationships. If your friends are considerate, this will only be a temporary stint of awkwardness. But sometimes, your friends are a little too wrapped up into their new significant other… and you’ll have to deal. So here’s a guide to surviving as the third wheel!

Agree on Boundaries

Communication is extremely important when you are fully aware of your impending third wheel condition. I cannot stress this enough –You’ve got to let them know (and early) that there are certain acts that are okay and not okay. If you’re okay with hand holding, let your BFF know. If you’re not okay with them sucking face in front of you, then make it clear! Just because you’re cool enough to chill with your friend AND her boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable while you’re with them.

Plan Neutral Hangouts

Since you’re just one short of making it a double date, it’s time to plan accordingly. Maybe those trips to the amusement parks might not be the best idea if it’s the three of you – someone’s always going to be alone. Maybe going to the movies seems a little too date-ish… unless you’re going to see something that is couple-free, like action movies or raunchy comedies. Go to the park! Go out for lunch. Go kayaking! Play video games at someone’s house – you get the idea!

Make Sure Conversations Are All-Inclusive

Once again, communication comes into play. You’re going to want to get along with your friend’s significant other (well, at least for the duration of your get-together). So come up with topics where everyone can chime in their own thoughts. Current events, pop culture, and general get-to-know-you questions should suffice.

Invite a Fourth Wheel!

Who says that a third wheeler must suffer alone? Invite another one of your mutual friends to add a sense of neutrality to the situation. If the new guy is a good guy, he’ll be okay with it. (And this way, you CAN go to the amusement park and have fun too.)

And if You Can’t Pull Off the Look of a Third Wheeler…

…Tell your BFF. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your bestie, and only your bestie. You have to let her know that – her telepathic link to you will have a bad connection due to the Honeymoon firewall! When you invite her out the next time, make sure the invite is only for her (and make sure that the clarity isn’t being mistaken as bitterness – that can be a problem).

Being the third wheel isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, I became best friends with my friend’s boyfriend just because I stuck with it and made sure I communicated when I wasn’t okay with certain things.

From Pamela, a Fellow Third Wheeler

Do you have any other tips on being the third wheel? Comment below!

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About the Author,

College is a struggle. You know it, and so do we. That’s where Surviving College comes in. It’s a blog about all things college – academics, jobs, friends, you name it, we’ve written about it. Roommate troubles? Got a low mark on your last exam? Trying to land that summer internship? We’ve got you covered. The Surviving… series is written by Pamela Nguyen, the Managing Editor, and Vanessa Lam, the Editor, at