Teen Talk

Being a third wheel is tough – but doable – when her best friends are a couple

DEAR KELLY: My best friend and my best guy friend recently became a couple. It is bad for me because anytime I’m hanging with them, I’m third wheel because they hold hands and call each other “babe” in front of me. When I told my best friend that it was hard for me because I feel like I lost my two best friends because they are always together, she got really salty with me. She told me that I should have spoken up before they got together. Then she posted something on her Finsta account about when people are jealous and how immature it is. I knew it was for me, so I texted her that I wasn’t jealous, just kind of sad. She never texted me back. When I said the same thing to my guy friend, he said that he would never want to come between the two of us because we’ve been best friends since fourth grade, so he would break up with her if that’s what it took to make everyone happy. I said I would never do that because she wouldn’t forgive me. I know he felt bad, and things are way awkward between us. They are super cute together, and I know they really like each other, but I can’t help but feel like I’m the left-out one. I have tried to be happy for them, but it’s so hard. Am I being a crybaby? Do you think I’m a bad friend for feeling the way I do? I don’t want to lose either of them, but it kind of already feels like I did.


DEAR KAITTLYN: Being a third wheel isn’t easy, but it is doable. It’s about finding your place and realizing that you haven’t lost them, but you may need to adapt and adjust to things being a little different.

You aren’t a bad friend or baby for feeling the way you do. It’s normal, and you aren’t wrong for feeling misplaced. Things have changed, and while they are lovey-dovey, you are left feeling like odd woman out. It’s not a fun feeling, but unfortunately it’s your new normal.

How to handle it? Clearly you care about both of them and want to be sure you stay friends with them. That’s the end goal. Try carving out alone time with each of them and letting them know that you support their relationship, but it just takes time to adjust. Treat them the way you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot. Asking them to break up would not be fair.

I know it’s hard but try approaching time together with them with some humor. Getting angry or frustrated with them will only create resentment and bitterness. It’s a sure fire way to push them both away. Laugh with them, call them “babe” too, and keep things light. Using humor to handle uncomfortable situations can lighten the mood and help the transition go smoother.

Be prepared for them to want some alone time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like time with you or that you have lost their friendship. Reach out to other friends to hang out so you aren’t sitting home stewing over your hurt feelings knowing they are out just the two of them. Expect them to be like any other couple, which means they will hold hands and call each other cute names. That’s not being annoying, its being normal, and you will do the same one day as well. Ask them to carve out some time alone with you and then offer to hang out with both of them too. The key to creating a new comfortable normal is balance.

You will be OK. These things happen. It’s part of the process of growing up and learning to handle uncomfortable situations. The worst thing you can do is shut them out or expect them to break up to make you happy. They are allowed to date. It just means everyone needs to adjust a little. The odds are they both need your friendship even more now as they try and navigate this new relationship and having a trusted friend to confide in as they move ahead as a couple.