3's A Crowd: The Emotional Stages Of Accepting You're The Third Wheel

by Jason Credo

We’ve all been there before, quietly lurking in the shadows, edged out by the now-handholding entity that used to be your best friend.

It’s always funny to compare how others have taken up the title of the “third wheel.”

Laid out here are some of the main stages* of being the third wheel, from being an awkward bicycle to an awesome tricycle (*stages are not universal, apply to your life at own risk):

1. Denial

There is always a sense of entitlement when it comes to your best friend. You were there first. He or she is your friend. Then, the significant other sweeps in on his or her white pony, carrying him or her off into happiness.

You manage to keep up on foot, but barely. You tag along on “group dates” as they suddenly become a thing and attempt to schedule time with your friend around pre-determined makeout sessions and utensil-type cuddling.

You try to understand it all, and how he or she could leave you all alone when all available time used to be spent with you. “It makes sense!” you tell yourself, as you go to the movies alone for the fifth time that week (considering you like going to the movies for recreation).

As you watch the film, you lazily eat your popcorn and think, “Fine, be that way. I don’t need you anyway!” But in reality, you feel like you do.

2. Hostility

The significant other is now your enemy. He or she is the proverbial dragon guarding the tower of your seemingly doomed friendship.

The dragon must be slain at all costs. You begin to talk sh*t about him or her to your friend (when you have the chance to talk, that is).

You say things like, “I think he chews funny,” “Dude, she asks too many damn questions” and my favorite one, “I think it's just for your money.”

Unfortunately for you, love has a shield that is impervious to your brand of bullsh*t. You relent and move on to different tactics.

If you’re brave (or in some cases, idiotic), you’ll approach the significant other, chest extended and fists clenched. It’s at this point you delve into two modes: active motherf*cker or passive motherf*cker

- Active motherf*cker strategies may include: having the big sibling “talk,” finger pointing and Olivia Pope-inspired tirades in front of the significant other. The presence of your friend is not required or pertinent in this mode, but you are going in claws out and thirsty for blood.

- Passive motherf*cker- Strategies may include: Continually throwing shade behind his or her back, seeking out tertiary friends who have no opinion and are therefore malleable to yours, and passive aggressive comments about how they look, act, eat or talk.

Neither of the above are acceptable under any circumstances. Alas, no one can control how you act except for you.

3. Reluctant Acceptance

So, you’ve attempted to take on one of the two personas and neither brought you the results you hoped for. So now what?

You still feel left out and want your friend back. Here is what I’ve learned in the past: You can talk to your friend face-to-face and it won’t ruin the friendship.

If it lasted through past bullsh*t, it will probably last through this. We are so consumed with accepting and embodying these societal identities that we forget who we truly are.

Once you realize that, you will realize that your friendship wasn’t in any real danger. The significant other is possibly the coolest person you’ll ever meet!

His or her “dangerous” attitude turns into spontaneity and the ugly mole you saw that one time really was just a piece of chocolate from a cookie.

It will all work out. Your friend is still your friend and now, you've scored yet another one to hang out with and possibly buy you lunch.

Once you realize this, I highly suggest you throw out that ridiculous bike and trade up for an equally appealing tricycle; I mean, they're supposed to have three wheels.