The Dos and Don'ts of Being a Third Wheel
So, you've decided it's time to get to know your best friend's SO! Or maybe you're being dragged along on a semi-date by a friend who's too nervous to go it alone. Or (horror of horrors) two of your closest friends have started dating, and they don't want to leave you out. Despite the title of this post, stop thinking of yourself as an unnecessary wheel. Instead, think of yourself as an awesome bike basket. Or a horn! Or maybe one of those cool playing cards that tough kids stick in their spokes. Here's how to avoid being anything less than an awesome addition to someone else's bicycle/date:
DO understand your function. If you're there to serve as wingman, don't forget it. Make your friend look good, don't pull attention by starting a sudden flirt campaign with their object of desire, and know when to politely take a 37-minute bathroom break.
DON'T act jealous and weird. This includes going on and on about how cute they look together, and how much you wish you could be so happy. You might think you're sneakily hiding your jealousy, but in fact you're putting a giant spotlight on it.
DO make suggestions for things to do. Gently steer things in the direction of group activities (bowling! snow fort building!), and away from romantic couple activities (cosmic bowling! pillow fort building!).
DON'T passive-aggressively joke about how they probably wish you weren't there. "Heh, bet you guys wish I would just leave already," you say, hopefully edging between them on the couch. "Bet you'd be making out if I wasn't here. Bet you want to throw me out the window," you continue to joke, desperately, assuming someone will contradict you soon. Nobody does, and the rest of the night is extremely awkward.
DO know when to disappear. If you find yourself saying "What are we gonna do next, guys?," and nobody answers because they're already making out, you're doing something wrong.
DON'T pit the first two wheels against each other. This should go without saying. But the truth is, sometimes you have no idea what to say when the person you know better is in the bathroom. If you and your friend's new boyfriend only have one thing in common, it's all too easy to resort to revealing her secrets, just to make conversation. "Hey, did Jessie ever tell you about the time she barfed on a magician?" is not going to win you any wingman points.
Have you ever been a third wheel? Were you guilty of any of these don'ts?