Let’s Redefine: The Process of Re-Identifying the Third Wheel.

“It’s sort of like being the sole training wheel on a bicycle. It’s fine, but every now and then it begins to lean.”

–On Being the Third Wheel

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):

Denial:

There is always a sense of claim that attaches itself to your best friend. You were there first. They’re your friend. Then the significant other sweeps in on their white pony, carrying them off to 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 their pre-determined make-out sessions and utensil-type cuddling. You try to understand it all; how they could leave you all alone when they used to spend all their time 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 anyways!” when in reality, you feel like you do.

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 slayed at all costs. You begin to talk shit about them to your friend (when you have the chance to talk to them, that is): “I think he chews funny,” “Dude, she asks too many damn questions,” and my favorite one, “I think they’re just dating you for your money.” Unfortunately for you, love has a shield that is impervious to your Iago brand of bullshit. 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 require 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.

Reluctant Acceptance:

So you’ve attempted to take on one of the two personas and neither brought you the results you had 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 bullshit, it will probably last through this. And that’s what gets me sometimes; we are consumed by accepting and embodying these societal identities that we forget who we truly are. Once you realize that, you also realize that your friendship wasn’t in any real danger. The significant other is possibly the coolest person you’ll ever meet! Their “dangerous” attitude turns into spontaneity and their 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’ve realized that, 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.

This article is also featured on Elite Daily.

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