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My Best Friends Are Dating And I Feel Like A Third Wheel

What to do when your friends start going out and things get awkward?
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Dear KitschMix,

Two of my best friends have started dating each other and although I’m happy for them, I’m starting to feel like a third wheel whenever we hang out. It’s so weird for me to see them together romantically because we’ve always been good friends. Now it’s transitioned to something else and I don’t know how to handle it. I find myself getting more and more frustrated and angry at them. Whenever they ask me to hang out I come up with some excuses to avoid them. They are both great people and I should feel happy for them, but I don’t know how to handle it. I feel like I’ve lost both of them. What should I do?

Well, reader, what you do next is going to depend greatly on your answers to a few additional questions. Your situation is not, by definition, doomed – but there is a chance that the problem is you and not them. Of course, I can’t make that determination through our computer monitors, so you’ll have to do a little bit of self-examination here.

(Please note that none of the following questions are to be taken as assumptions – they are simply used to help determine what your precise situation is. You don’t need to justify your answers to anyone but yourself – so be honest in your answers.)

Additionally, before you take any action, keep in mind that – to some extent – they really do deserve to know the truth about why you’re uncomfortable. Try to examine the following possible explanations, and see which one seems closest to yours. There may be more than one factor in play here, creating a situation that is 100% unique.


Are they excessively affectionate?

This is a hard one to judge, because my definition of “excessive” and your definition of “excessive” are bound to be different. Likewise, when we are being incredibly affectionate with our partners, it’s almost never in an attempt to alienate our friends. If you feel that this is the reason you don’t want to be around them, it is OK to let them know – although you shouldn’t expect that they’re going to change just because it makes you uncomfortable.

Most people, when entering a relationship, will want to be affectionate with their partners. It’s normal, and helps to create a better bond between the two (or more) people. This doesn’t mean that it’s fun to be around. Thankfully, if this is the problem, it’s likely to resolve itself before too long – most relationships don’t stay in the “cupcakey” phase for too long, especially in public. If you can wait it out, chances are you’ll get both friends back.


Are you jealous of their happiness?

Okay, this isn’t something we like to admit to ourselves, but sometimes we can envy our friends – even our best friends. One of my best friends is way more financially stable and self-confident than I am, and for a long time that intimidated me and made me not want to be around him. It can be even worse if the thing you’re jealous over is love, and you seem to be forever alone – unlike most other problems, you aren’t the only person involved in whether or not you’re single.

There’s a super simple (but highly clichéd) solution if this is the problem: Either get a girlfriend, or learn to be content on your own. This is one explanation that has literally nothing to do with them, and if you decide this is the problem, you might want to sugarcoat your answer a little when you tell them. Instead of flat-out saying that their relationship makes you uncomfortable because you’re jealous, maybe tell them that their happiness inspires you to find a girlfriend of your own – once you find yourself in a position where you can be happy for yourself, it might be a little easier to feel happy for them.


Are you attracted to one (or both) of them?

This one’s pretty hard to admit sometimes too, because in your mind you’ll (essentially) be:

  • Considering hooking up with your friend/friends;
  • Considering betraying your friend/friends;
  • Possibly even considering entering an open relationship that has the potential to go sour – but we’ll get into that later.

That seems like some pretty hefty stuff, and it is. But if your problem is that you’re attracted to either or both of them – it’s pretty much necessary that you admit these feelings, if you’ve got any chance at staying friends with these women. It is just a chance, though – even if you admit your feelings, there is a potential for things to go wrong.

When you confess your feelings for your friend(s), there are only a few things that will happen. Either things will get really awkward and they’ll stop asking you to hang out, or they’ll confess they’re into you, too. If one of them likes you but the other just sees you as a friend, and they’re not into the idea of an open relationship, basically, things are going to get awkward. Sadly, there’s not much you can do about it. But if they bring up the idea of an open relationship, this could be the solution to all your problems!

If you do take this path, you’ll need to realize that a breakup in the relationship will probably destroy the friendship, at least for the immediate future. Of course, this is going to hurt – but it’s hard to be friends with someone you’re romantically attracted to anyway, especially when you see them with someone else every day. Try not to let it get you down – there’s no reason you can’t try to be friends again once your feelings have had some time to subside.


Do they only ask you out for date-type activities?

This is one situation where I would probably say that your friends are jerks. If they’re constantly asking you over for things that really ought to be a two-person activity, there’s no reason you need to be there – and you’re absolutely right to decline every invitation, unless you see a possibility of an open relationship happening (as explained in the previous question). This is one situation where you absolutely should not sugarcoat things – let them know they’re being inappropriate!

Sometimes, the people who do this might be trying to drop hints that they think the three of you would make a great relationship together. Whether you feel this way or not, it might be best if you tell them you feel it’s inappropriate first – just to make sure this is actually their intention, otherwise things are going to get really weird, really fast. In most cases, they’re probably just trying to include you somewhere you don’t belong – which is still not great, but it’s fairly easy to fix once you let them know it makes you uncomfortable.


Is it something else entirely?

If it’s another issue entirely, I’m not really able to come up with a quick solution here – you will need to write in with more details in order to clarify exactly how they make you feel. Your feelings are a pretty big deal in this situation, so I can’t really guess at what they are. Everyone has their own different circumstances. I’ve just tried to cover the four most common, but I’m sure there are many, many more. Remember, you need to do what’s best for you, first and foremost. Hopefully you can find a solution that works for all three of you, but your happiness should be of the utmost concern – everyone else is optional.


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Author
Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” - an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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