The Art of Being a 3rd/5th/7th/9th Wheel

The world we live in right now definitely has its funny bits, including the idea that everybody needs “somebody”, or needs to find their “somebody” as soon as possible. I sort of agree with the first bit in that I believe humans are naturally drawn to other people. Some people may argue saying, “I hate being around people” or “I prefer being alone”, but I like to think that these thoughts are the byproduct of bad experiences or the preference to be left alone to enjoy personal activities (i.e. hiding in your room to watch Netflix).

Anyways, back to the point: the idea that everybody should always be searching for his or her “somebody”. I graduated high school two years ago, but sometimes it doesn’t feel as if I’ve really left. I mean, I have had some wonderful experiences and I really do love college, but there are so many social aspects that have translated themselves to this bigger scale that that it almost feels as if I’m still there.

I love my friends. But if I had a nickel for every time I was made into a 3rd/5th/7th/9th (yes, even ninth!) wheel, I'd be rich

I mean, my wealth would probably be on par with the likes of Meg Whitman or J.K. Rowling. First it’s “Hey, let’s go bowling!”, “Hey, let’s go see that movie we were talking about!”, or “Hey, we’re going mini-golfing!” and then next thing you know it’s “Oh by the way, so-and-so is coming” or “Is it okay if so-and-so comes? He really wants to see this movie too!” Like I said, I love my friends but this can get tiring.

About halfway through high school, more of my friends started “seriously” dating (well, as seriously as you can date in high school). They invited me along to outings because my job was to help keep them from becoming those girls, the ones whose lives revolved entirely around their boyfriends. For the most part, I haven’t minded doing this because I wouldn’t want to become that person either and I would want somebody to tell me if I was turning into that.

Being an extra wheel is not as bad as some people may make it out to be, but how do you handle these situations? Here are some tips and other things to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in this situation.

Final Answer? Phone a Friend |  If you know you may end up extra-wheeling it, try to find another singleton to come hang out with you. I strongly suggest trying to invite a person who isn’t already ensconced within your main group. Your core group may be the ones you’re closest with, but when things start to pair off a little, you have the perfect opportunity to develop a deeper friendship and get to know this other person. I have plenty of acquaintances, but from a networking standpoint, having even a slightly deeper connection is nicer because people are typically more inclined to help people they feel closer to.

You Can Tease a Bit, But Don’t Whine | This is definitely an area where I warn you tread lightly. As an extra wheel, you may have a license to make a few teasing comments towards the couple (of course depending on how comfortable y’all are with each other) but always keep in mind what you’re saying because you wouldn’t want to say something out-of-hand or offensive. There is also a thin line between teasing and whining, so be careful of that! You have chosen to come along and stay for the ride, and everybody wants to have a nice time – don’t ruin everybody else’s night by complaining.

Find Common Ground to Talk About | One of the most important things I have found in being a wheel is to keep wheel moments to a minimum. Rather than trying to force yourself into a conversation, try redirecting the topic to something everybody in the party can talk about. If you can’t think of anything right at the moment, ask light questions to feel out the general knowledge/interest in various subjects from last night’s big game to what just happened on a popular TV show. Commonalities not only make for better conversation, but you really get to sneak a peek into other people’s personalities and how they think, which ultimately helps you get to know them better.

Let the Beau Have a Chance | So you tagged along to get to know your best friend’s significant other? Congratulations, you have earned another star for being an Ace friend. You want to give this SO the third degree, but that is probably the worst thing you could do! It’s obvious that you care a lot about your friend, but getting to know this new person in your friend’s life does not require you freaking them out. Definitely keep your ears peeled for any red flags, but work on just getting to know them like you would any other person. Keep hostile feelings locked away and walk in with a fresh mind, your friend obviously saw something in this person and they want you to see that too.

Give a Little Privacy | They are a couple/couples, and while this isn’t a date (could be a group date?), it’s okay to give them a few minutes to themselves by looking away, absorbing yourself in the menu, or going to the bathroom. But notice that I said a little privacy. They are out with you, which means they should remember to be considerate and try to help you feel included in conversations. Don’t try to be the center of the conversation, but show that you are an active participant in the night out.

Have you ever been an extra wheel? What are things you do when you are?


Catch you next time.

P.S. If you haven't heard of the guy in my title image, y'all need to check out his IG right now! He's basically a professional third-wheeler with three years of Instas to prove it.

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