“Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” Whoever coined that famous expression just never mastered the art of third-wheeling. Because there’s no reason why hanging with your bestie and their boo has to be awkward. In fact, being a couple’s plus one can be enjoyable AF, as long as you have the right attitude and approach. Need tips for making third-wheeling more fun? Let’s start with this: fully embrace your role, and you’re bound to have a blast.
Not to brag, but I’m kind of a pro. While I’m in a committed relationship now, I spent several years being the single friend, and at a certain point, I stopped feeling so weird tagging along on outings. In fact, on my spring break during grad school, I traveled to Charleston, S.C. with my guy friend and his GF, and we spent a long weekend beer tasting, indulging in amazing Southern fare, and rooftop bar hopping. And the summer after I graduated, I flew to Chicago and stayed with my bestie and her fiancé for the fourth. In both cases, I enjoyed a full week of third-wheeling — and TBH, some of those memories are among my best.
If you could use some guidance in that department, don’t fret — here are some tried-and-true tactics to try for a pleasant third-wheel experience.
Adopt the right mindset.
If you go into a third-wheel situation with the wrong attitude, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable evening.
So, let’s talk about what not to do. Don’t constantly draw attention to your third wheel-ness. The more you comment on it, the more awkward it becomes for everyone. Rather than further isolating yourself, just take a chill pill and try to think of your group dynamic as a trio — not a duo plus one. Plus, if your friends chose to include you rather than having a romantic date night on their own, that must mean they really love being around you.
That doesn’t mean you can’t crack a joke about playing the third wheel — it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself. But one quip is enough — if that joke becomes the running theme of the night, it’s sure to bum you out and make your friends feel uncomfortable.
Let them play cupid.
Assuming you’re single, there’s a good chance at least one, if not both, of your friends will be eager to be your wingperson. Unless you’re totally opposed to the idea because you’re getting over a breakup, or otherwise taking a break from dating, why not indulge them? It’s actually one of the primary perks of being a third wheel.
Let them scope out cuties for you at the bar, or gush about you to the ones you’re already flirting with. People who are already coupled up often love playing matchmaker, and since they’re your friends, they probably have a good handle on your taste. Besides, who knows? Your third-wheel situation could quickly become a double date.
Show them the hotspots.
There’s a good chance that the couple you’re chilling with might be a tad out of the loop on the trendy new restaurants, bars, and other hotspots that have popped up lately. If they’re more likely to snuggle up on a Friday night than go hit that new tequila lounge, then it’s your job to show them a good time. Your role isn’t just third wheel — you’re a straight-up city guide.
So, where will you be stopping along your tour? Name a few options to see which ones they haven’t scoped out yet. If you plot out the perfect itinerary for your hang, don’t be surprised if you soon become a regular addition to their dates. Honestly, what would they do without you?
Befriend the bae.
How well do you know your friend’s SO? Use your third-wheel situation as an opportunity to bond with them.
Rather than mainly engaging with your BFF, make an effort to include their partner in your convo. When your friend is using the bathroom, resist the temptation to pick up your phone and start mindlessly scrolling through Insta — and instead, ask their SO some questions. It could be as simple as asking them to tell you more about the company they work for, or what they’re drinking, or that trip they just took to Europe. One of my go-to’s is to ask for their advice — whether it’s related to dating, your career, or something else entirely.
By developing your own friendship with your bestie’s bae, you’re strengthening the overall group dynamic. And when your friend sees how comfortable you and their partner are around each other, they’ll be more likely to invite you out on future outings.
Feel free to photobomb.
Look, there’s no need to simulate gagging when the lovebirds steal a smooch or wedge yourself in between them while they’re holding hands. Let them live their lives, OK? But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with your third-wheel status and own the silliness of it all.
Go ahead and invite them to do a three-way slow dance with you. Or, when they’re getting a cute photo for IG, use that opportunity for a tasteful, well-timed photobomb. That will give you all something to LOL about later on when you’re looking back on your epic third-wheel adventure.
Three is a magical number, y’all. Just look to The Jonas Brothers, Charlie’s Angels, and the Toy Story trilogy for proof. BOOM. #MicDrop. So, don’t dwell in the potential awkwardness — instead, own your third-wheel role like a total boss.