Nothing is quite as annoying as third-wheeling your friends who are coupled up. You love them, you want the best for them, but you don’t want to spend every Friday night sitting in on their romantic dates. I get it! But guess what? You don’t have to. Telling your friends you don’t want to third-wheel isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, but there are definitely nice ways to tell your besties you don’t always want to be the Harry to their Ron and Hermione, the Miranda to their Lizzie and Gordo, or the Shawn to their Cory and Topanga. (You get the point.)
“Try to bring up [third-wheeling] in a way where you share what you would like to do [instead],” Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach, tells Elite Daily. “In other words, if you don’t want to third-wheel, is it because you miss spending individual time with one partner? Is there a way to share how much you would like to start doing some of the things you used to one-on-one?”
Above all else, the most most important thing about communicating how you feel about third-wheeling to your friend is to be upfront and honest, Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, tells Elite Daily. “It’s completely fine if you find yourself just wanting to stay home and watch a movie but lying to your friend and saying you’re sick or some other silly excuse is going to come back to haunt you later on.”
Approaching your friend with compassion can be good way to politely let them know how you feel about constantly third-wheeling them and their partner. “Just letting someone know that you miss spending quality one-on-one time is likely to warm their hearts,” Melamed says. “Making it about bonding with them over trying to get out of spending time with them as a couple is a gentler approach that is likely to be received more openly.” Try to be gentle here. You don’t want your friend to feel bad or attacked, either. But honesty and compassion are the best ways to go.
If you’d rather avoid the subject all together, try to come to some sort of agreement where you all hang out together sometimes, just not all the time, which can be a nice compromise for all three parties involved, Sullivan points out. Invite another friend out with you, so you’re not alone with the couple, or make it a double date with your newest cutie from Bumble. “That way you get to spend time with your friends, while also having a fun time,” she says. You can also find something you and your friend like that their SO doesn’t and do that together. “Couples usually have some hobbies, preferences, or interests that diverge, and if they converge with yours, that could be the sweet spot for getting some alone time with them,” Melamed explains.
There are so many ways to compromise on third-wheeling so that everyone feels comfortable. The point is, your friends probably don’t want you to be unhappy or feel awkward, so talking to them about how you’d rather not third-wheel all the time and coming to some sort of agreement can be in everyone’s best interest. You just have to take that first step and let them know how you feel.