Third Wheeling for Dummies

It’s the classic story of boy meets girl…meets girl. Third wheeling. It’s an art form and it’s a sport. One that I had little experience with, making life a little more interesting when I moved into my dorm room with a roommate in a relationship. I immediately needed a crash course on third wheeling. Here’s what I have learned.

The third wheel can take on many different forms:

The classic younger sibling third wheel.

This is the third wheel that hangs out in the back seat of the car and comes down into the basement at the PERFECT time.

The “my best friend is your girlfriend, we should be friends” third wheel.

“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, friendship never ends.”

The roommate third wheel.

When you look this one up in the dictionary, you will find a picture of me. This one is particularly exciting because when you go off to college not only are you obtaining a roommate but also a boyfriend. When one person living in a room is in a relationship, that couple quickly acquires a new team member. Daily jobs include filling in on FaceTime when your roommate has to go to the bathroom, tagging your couple in relatable Instagrams, and taking cute, candid pictures when Boyfriend comes to visit.

The BFFs third wheel

We all have those two best friends who are so close that whenever you try to spend time with them it is like you are crashing a date with the most serious, intense couple you have ever met and will ever meet. This is really the only type of third wheeling that is not enjoyable, in my opinion. Each inside joke and “remember when?” will make you feel more and more like you are merely a chaperone on this romantic rendezvous.

The third wheel must follow a strict set of unwritten rules (most of which I have learned the hard way):

Know when it is time to leave.

The breaks between conversation will get longer. The eye contact you previously were receiving will no longer exist. Basically you will feel like if you spontaneously turned blue nobody would notice. That’s your cue to go. “Oh shoot I totally forgot that I NEED to go to sit at the ChocolateBbar for several hours exactly at 3:24 P.M... and oh wow, look at the time, it’s 3:24. Bye.”

In the event of a breakup act accordingly.

Take care of your BFF. End of story.

Don’t be awkward.

Awkwardness is a third wheel’s Achilles Heel. It can easily feel like a third wheel is just crashing a couple’s two-person party, and it is important that you do not let that happen. The second your couple makes it weird, call them out. Make fun of yourself. Have fun with it. Call them Mom and Dad. Do whatever you want. Just no matter what, don’t be awkward.

If you sense that your couple is on the path to breaking out into a fight, do everything in your power to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

The second you feel the mood shift to anger and feel a petty fight coming on, change the subject. Save the day. Throw on your cape and transform into Super Third Wheel. Or if you are totally not feeling the superhero thing, just run away. It’s your choice.

When birthdays and holidays come around, be sure to intervene.

Gift giving is never easy. But never fear your trusty third wheel is here. I have found that a huge part of being a third wheel is helping your couple to buy gifts for each other. It usually goes a little something like this:

Boyfriend: “What should I get Girlfriend for her birthday?

Me: “Not sure. Let me think.”

**Texts Girlfriend. Asks what she wants.**

Me: “I think you should get her a green and pink plaid flannel pajama set with a matching eye mask and slippers. Oh and like maybe a box of dark chocolates. Oh and I mean while you’re at it she would probably like a dark brown teddy bear, but I’m not sure. It’s just a hunch.”

Just like that, everybody wins. Just make sure that nobody is too hung up on that idea of presents being surprises.

The third wheel can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone...

Harry Potter is a magical third wheel with Hermoine and Ron that we can all learn from.

Ted, from How I Met Your Mother, shows us how legendary third wheeling can be.

Even Miley Stewart can play the third wheel.

Third wheeling has its perks. You get to crash dates, you gain a substitute mom and dad, and maybe if you’re lucky and are dealing with an overly chivalrous boyfriend, you may even get a few free meals out of the deal. And please do not underestimate how important you are. In many ways, you help to keep this relationship afloat. Keep doing your job and remember every good tricycle needs a third wheel.