Learning to draw lines
Relationships are fragile things, threatened by many obstacles in their path. Egos, parental dissent, finances, status, caste etc. are all well known boulders in the path of love. However, more often than not, friends of the couple can pose a problem too. It is not necessary that said friends pose a competitive threat to the partner but they cause fights and friction by overstepping the boundaries of privacy and friendship.
Sometimes friends don’t know where to draw the line when their friends get married or get into relationships. They don’t realise that this can pose a major problem to the couple in question as the partner might not take too kindly to his or her private time being encroached upon.
Have you ever heard of the expression – a third wheel? Picture it – imagine a cycle with three wheels or a car. A car or a cycle will not be able to move smoothly with this awkward number of wheels will it? In people terms, a third wheel is someone who is friends with one or both members of a couple and tags along wherever they go, or insists on being omnipresent when a couple clearly wishes to be left alone.
If you have ever heard of the expression being used to describe you, even in a joking sense, do take it seriously as no one appreciates a third wheel. No matter how close to the couple, or one half of a couple you may be, it is not good practice to be around all the time. It has negative connotations so try and avoid being one, or encouraging one around you.
So which are you? Are you the third wheel who is constantly on the phone with the couple, messaging them or calling them? Are you the annoying friend who is constantly asking to meet and tag along on movie/lunch/dinner/coffee dates? If you have a pair of friends who are dating, understand that you cannot be around them all the time. They might feel very uncomfortable being typical sappy lovers in front of you and will feel the need to involve you in their conversation and inside jokes.
Instead, try and plan group activities which involve other friends as well, instead of just you and the couple. Give the couple some time to be alone – you cannot always message or call when they are enjoying some alone time. Also, hang out with your other friends – this way you will widen your circle and not be a pest to the dating duo. There is not much else that you can do, except reign yourself in from constantly being around them. Also, keep in mind that the partner of your friend may not take it very kindly if you are constantly around – either in person or virtually via texts.
What about those couples plagued by a third wheel? Well there are ways to deal with them of course and no, it does not involve cutting them off as friends – drawing some lines and making boundaries clear is all that is required. You need to tactfully but actively make it clear that you cannot have this friend around at all times and this friend needs to get the idea that your availability has shifted.
If the wheel in question is a friend of your boyfriend or girlfriend, then have a serious talk with him/her and make your reservations and feelings known. Have them know that you are irritated that your personal time together is always compromised by a third person and have them talk to the person in question and explain this. There is no harm in doing this and you are fully within your rights to expect unadulterated time with your better half.
If it is a friend of yours, then give them subtle hints about not wanting to spend every waking moment with them. If they call or text asking you to hang out, then gently and politely tell them it is couple time and you are not free. If they keep calling or texting while you are out on a date, refrain from responding as this only means that your partner might take great umbrage to the diverted attention.
Any friend who has an iota of grey matter will understand when they are overstaying their welcome and will back off and let the couple enjoy their time together. Avoiding being a third wheel is merely a question of watching and moderating your own behaviour and if you want to avoid having one around, all it takes is a polite chat with the friend concerned.