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How to Survive the Night as a Third Wheel Without Losing Your Mind

No one wants to be a third wheel. But when you find yourself stuck on a night out with a lovey-dovey couple, here’s what you should do.

third wheel

Nobody with a considerable amount of dignity would ever want to play the third wheel on a date, even if you are friends with the couple. As the third wheel, you are the literal “odd one out.” Not only are you reminded of being cursedly single, but there are times that your friends would be kind enough to pour salt on your gaping wound by allowing you to witness their escalating public displays of affection.

Your only choice is to accept your fate, as your existence fades from their memory, until what’s left for you is to go back to your apartment and cry yourself to sleep.

The melodrama aside, we tend to avoid third wheel traps because of the unpleasant things mentioned. However, there are times when an innocent get-together will turn into a single person’s nightmare.

A common scenario would be you and your buddy deciding to get a couple of drinks and do a little catching up later that night. But by the time you arrive, your buddy smiles apologetically and announces that they invited their “lady friend” or “guy friend” along since they’re around the area anyway.

By now, you realize that you’ve been betrayed. It’s too late and too rude to turn back now, so you’ll be spending the next couple of hours being room meat that’s bound to spoil. Oh, how you wish you went straight home to the loving arms *or paws* of your cats. [Read: 10 possible reasons why you’re the struggling single one!]

We now present you with useful tips on surviving such a situation and maybe, get a little revenge on the side. Because it’s only fair, right? In the words of a psychopathic ex, “if I’m not getting any, I’ll make sure nobody will.”

Third wheel survival tips

Third wheel traps usually start pretty much okay – introductions are made, the usual small talk, long-time-no-see’s, and drinking. The party is initially balanced in terms of attention and engagement. But when the time comes and your companions start traipsing into the lush meadows of their budding romance, time to fumble your bag, pockets, and wits in order to reassert your presence. Or you could just play the wallflower all night. Your choice. [Read: 15 reasons why being single can be more fun than being in a relationship]

#1 Use your gadgets *smart phone, music player, handheld console, etc.* Because you can’t thank modern technology for being modern enough to save you in these kinds of situations, you can now keep yourself busy by playing games on your phone or handheld console while your supposed “friends” get their thing going.

In normal social situations, using your phone would be frowned upon, but it isn’t really good manners to stare blankly and watch them suck their faces off either. [Read: 9 social media sites to use to snag yourself a date immediately]

#2 Text or call someone else. It could be your crush, a witty friend, or a long-forgotten acquaintance. If you find that it’s hopeless to get the couple’s due attention, find someone else’s. A witty friend would keep you entertained with their usual antics, allowing you to buy yourself some time until your friends realize their cruelty.

In the same way, texting and flirting with your crush or a sexy friend might increase your chances of getting a date of your own, so that you’ll never find yourself a third wheel in the future. [Read: The step-by-step guide to making a successful booty call]

#3 Observe and flirt with someone in a similar situation. The universe might not be too cruel that it only has you as the in-between in your friends’ make-out session. So brush up on your scouting skills, and survey the area for people of the opposite sex who seem to be in a similar situation.

Tell your friends *if they could even acknowledge you while lip locking* that you’ll just go and get a drink while you approach a cutie at the bar. You could even use your third wheel similarity as a conversation starter. If it turns out well, you would have found yourself a partner of your own while escaping the third wheel pit. [Read: 15 perfect conversation starters you can use as a third wheel]

#4 Keep the conversation going. Another useful trick to keep them from getting sweet while you lapse into a diabetic coma is to get them preoccupied with conversations. Since you’re really desperate to survive the night, you have a no-holds-barred, anything-under-sun range of topics at your disposal.

From friends of friends’ gossip to the latest episode of Game of Thrones, hell, you could even discuss particle physics or the history of curling if you want to. Talk away, and unless they’re really mean, they’ve got no choice but to listen! [Read: How to keep a conversation interesting and fun the whole way]

#5 Blow them away with your humor and story-telling skills. The idea is to steal their attention from each other and direct it towards you. This is tricky, however, and requires a deal of oratorical skills and showmanship. The awkwardness of being a third wheel starts once the silence kicks in. So you need to be careful by preventing this and keeping them entertained by animatedly narrating your old college shenanigans or that movie you watched last night.

If you’ve run out of ammo, make fun of yourself being the third wheel, and get a few laughs. Just don’t hang yourself in your closet afterwards when you get home. [Read: How to be funny and make people love your company]

#6 Cock block them. Now is the time for revenge. If you think you’re up for it, you can ruin the mood and rain over their sweet time. Start conversations about deep and depressing topics like the global recession, existential ennui, the sorrows of the human condition, or that puppy you ran over three years back. Your buddy could hate you for your sabotage afterwards, but it’s every man for his own this time. [Read: What’s a cock block and 11 perfect reasons to use it]

#7 Space out, malinger around. If you think it’s a worthless effort to keep the kissies at bay with talking or with any of your tradecraft, just distance yourself from them once it starts. Go on, take a walk and admire the evening sky or the bar posters.

#8 Find an excuse to bail out. If you’ve exhausted all your options and your friends are close to getting a cab to conclude their canoodling in bed, launch a preemptive strike in the form of a text ruse that something is urgent or you have stuff to do. Never ever allow them to leave before you do. This will be easy because they’ll be too busy to accommodate you anyway.

[Read: How to meet new people and network at a party like a social butterfly]

Being a third wheel sucks, and there are times that you will be caught unaware and find yourself in such an awkward position. But it’s no reason to let your night end like the usual third wheel nights end. So go out there and fight for your right not to bear witness to excessive smooching while you’re alone and lonely.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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