Everyone knows the feeling when you’re with two other people who know each other so well that everything they say is an inside joke with one another, leaving you (intentionally or not) on the outside. From couples to a group of people who are best friends, we’ve all been there.
There have been a lot of times in my life where I feel like the third wheel.
While I don’t like believing people want to put me in that situation, it happens, and sometimes more often than I care to admit. I always leave wondering why I let myself into those situations, why didn’t I leave sooner? Typically the answer is, “They don’t really mean it; they’re my friends. They wouldn’t knowingly do that do me…. right?”
Unfortunately, I’ve been on the other side too. I’ve been in places where I make inside jokes around people who don’t know them, and then avoid giving an explanation. Usually it’s because I’m tired, or the story behind the joke is too long to explain, or I just don’t feel like it. I hate myself for it every single time.
That’s why I always make the effort to include the people around me, and make sure they know they are welcome in the group. Cliques bother me, there’s something not natural about them. They’re like a slap in the face; you think you’re welcome and then through people’s mannerisms you realize you’re not. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s something we do anyways. I even don’t like the term “best friend” because it sounds so exclusive, like no one else can be there for me ever in my entire life, so don’t even try. To me, the term “best friend” can be substituted for “closest friend,” because it’s a more honest representation.
I have two rules for myself: 1) If I don’t want to explain an inside joke, I don’t say it. 2) If I’m with a group of friends, and a close friend is there too, I will not focus only on my closest friend and shut the others out. I will include them in the conversation no matter what.
Those rules sound like no brainers, but sometimes I forget them. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to obey, which is wrong and I’m sorry for breaking them. However, I always remember the feeling of being on the outside, of wanting to be included and get to know the people I’m with and never given the chance to be a friend. That makes me want to make a friend and let them know someone is interested in their life, even if it’s for one conversation.
In my own life, I am beginning to realize that I do not have to be a third wheel. I do not have to put myself into situations where I feel left out and alone. I am important. I don’t have to live in “Third-Wheel Land” anymore. Yes, it will be hard but I know it is worth it.
So to the people who think they’re a third wheel, find me and tell me. I will be your friend.