Kayla Snell

Third Wheel Reveals What Your Relationship Says About You

As the perpetually single friend, I often find myself the third wheel, or even the fifth wheel, on group outings.

Nine times out of 10, you can catch me rolling through with my crew and their significant others to a social gathering or outing, especially around the holidays.

Not sure how this happened, but at 26, it seems as though all of my close friends are in serious-ass relationships... except for me.

However, third wheeling it isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

I'm not even bitter that I'm the “single friend” or desperate to find love. If anything, third wheeling shows me every time I'm with friends in relationships that real love — the kind that accepts you and makes you feel at home and at peace — does, in fact, exist.

Being the third wheel teaches you the art of becoming someone's bae while showing you it's OK to be the single friend.

Being the third wheel teaches you a lot about relationships. If you carefully observe them, third wheeling can instill a newfound appreciation for independence, show you want you truly desire in a partner or expose deal breakers of what you're willing to accept in your future relationships.

Oftentimes, my friends tell me they live vicariously through me after I share my latest random dating excursion with some guy I'm not even interested in.

But I have a confession: I'm actually living vicariously through them and their relationships.

I may not have all the answers to a successful relationship, but from the outside looking in, I'm confident in what type of relationship I want and how I want my partner to define me from being the third wheel.

Here's what being the third wheel as taught me:

Your relationship is a reflection of you.

Your partner isn't just your partner. They're an extended reflection of you.

This is a reflection that you have committed to showing off to the world; this person becomes a secondary representation of you and your values.

Whatever people see in your partner is how they will see you. If you've been in a relationship long enough, people will begin to identify you as one entire person. You won't just be Jill, you'll be known as Jack and Jill.

Be careful not to lose your own identity in a relationship, but also understand that ideally, you do want that person to represent you at all times.

People will make judgments based on your decisions to be with someone whether you like it or not. If who you're with is an asshole or at least acts like one, people will assume you like assholes and will start judging your character, as well.

Be picky with who you date, and choose your partners wisely.

Your partner isn't just your partner. They're an extended reflection of you.

Relationships should be made of dynamic duos.

Here's what I can say about my friends who are in relationships: They've been with their men for YEARS.

In the beginning, I secretly questioned what they saw in these men, as the pairings didn't seem to make a lot of sense from where I was standing. But now, it all adds up.

What I've learned is your partner shouldn't just complement you as an individual. They should offer an interesting dynamic to the extended version of yourself.

Your partner shouldn't just complement you as an individual. They should offer an interesting dynamic to the extended version of yourself.

Some of my friends are dating, and even marrying, men from different backgrounds, which isn't just diversifying how they view the world, but teaching those more about themselves and exposing them to unique perspectives they might not have created independently.

This doesn't just keep a relationship exciting by learning new things about each other constantly, but it keeps you growing as a person when dating someone who challenges you.

It's also a good balance when you're paired with someone who is a little different from you. Opposites attract, right?

Third wheels are always paying attention to your relationship.

I pay attention to how my friends interact with their SOs. It helps show me the type of guy I want in the end, or what type of girlfriend I hope to be someday.

Seeing my peers in relationships is an affirmation in itself. I have a third-person point of view into what modern romance means for my generation.

When you look at your friends in relationships and see how they treat one another with respect, how often they make each other laugh and have fun and how they do and don't show affection, it shapes you.

However, if your friend isn't happy in their relationship, find out why and how you can avoid their same mistakes. Look at the signs, and recognize which behaviors you're not willing to accept from another person.

If you pay attention, being the third wheel teaches you the art of becoming someone's bae while showing you it's OK to be the single friend.

Your friends are more likely your best examples of what to expect in your future relationships when the time comes for you to meet your match. Until then, remember, you're not alone as the third wheel and you won't always be the third wheel.