Life as a third wheel.

23 December 2015

We’ve all been there. We have all had that friend – or even several of those friends -, the friends who dump you, without even a second thought, when a romantic interest appears in their life. 

It is one of the worst things to happen to a friendship. Particularly if you, the jilted friend, are single. There was one point in my life when my entire circle of girlfriends all had significant others, and that was wonderful for them, but it sucked for me. It meant that every time I arranged to meet up with one or two of them, they’d be en route to their boyfriend’s, or just coming back from their girlfriend’s or, worst of all, they would bring their male/female sig-oth* with them on our nice friendly catch up date. Without asking if they could, may I add. I promise I’m not bitter…
I’d have nothing to talk about over coffee when they all were gushing about their other halves and how much they loved them – or even just how great the sex was. Cringe. I just sat there and nodded along, listening and listless.
(*sig-oth is a Schmidtism; my beloved Schmidt from New Girlreferred to Cece as his sig-oth, catchy shortcut phrase for Significant Other, particularly handy to use when you’re on a tight schedz)
I always believed that this behaviour was far more common in women than in men. Male friendships always seem super-tight, in fact I thought that men often prioritised their pals over their other halves most of the time. Well, at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe in my six years of dating men…I was wrong.
The moment I tweeted about this – more specifically about my childhood bestie who had cut me loose by deleting/blocking me on every form of social media and not responding to any of my texts for weeks, because I had had a tiny disagreement with her fiancée’s family some time ago, a gigantic amount, I dare say the majority, of my male followers came flooding in with their responses, saying they’d had a similar situation happen and they still have friends who aren’t bothering with them any more due to their relationships taking priority.
I was outraged at this. Then I perused the replies I’d received from my lovely female friends in hyperspace – same thing. They’d all been pushed aside and left for dead by their besties as soon as a partner of some kind had come into play. Some of the stories I heard were appalling, many of them even worse than what I’ve experienced over the years.
It doesn’t help that I am one of those friends who immediately gets prickly with any person any one of my friends chooses to get with. Yes, I am that friend. When I first start hearing a name repeated over and over in conversation with a bestie – e.g. “Oh, Ricardo said that too!”, or “hang on, I’ve gotta reply to a text from Morticia!” – my antennae goes up and my Best Friend Instincts take over. I hate this person. They must work really damn hard to sway me round to even simply tolerating them, let alone liking them.
I try so hard not to let this happen. I am firm in my beliefs that surely if any one of my friends chooses a partner, if they fall madly in love with another human being, then HUZZAH! I am delighted for them, and this must be an excellent human being, given that my friends have perfect judgement.
So that’s the stance I always consciously try to take. However, I’ve been proven wrong one too many times. I’ve seen my star-student independent-woman friend get her self-esteem shattered by a man with a motorbike; I held a dear friend’s hair as she puked and cried wondering aloud why he didn’t care; I watched helplessly while my best guy friend had his heart toyed with by several bat-shit cray girls in a row, all of whom milked him for all he was worth both feelings and money-wise.
Yes, I am sceptical. I am a protective and often bristly best friend.
For a long time I felt that I was the one in the wrong; maybe the reason I was so upset by this was that I didn’t have the right attitude to relationships…maybe I was the problem!
Now don’t get me wrong here, I often am the problem, but in this case…no.
I am in a relationship, and have been for two years. And yes, that is a part of my life and my day-to-day existence. However, I have realised recently that in the two years we have been officially dating, my boyfriend has not met all of my friends. This is because a) a few of my oldest friends live in my home town, and he often cannot visit me there as it’s a long way from him and a shit-ton of money on the train, and b) because, well, I don’t want to drag him along to any hang-outs with my friends. Simple as.
I don’t want him to be dragged into anything, and I don’t want any of my friends to feel awkward in our company. Not because we indulge in excessive PDA (my pet hate about couples, ughh…) but because I have been the friend in that situation so many times in my life, and more often than not I dislike it very much. Most of the time I really do not enjoy being a third wheel.
Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent and I can feel myself digging a hole. My main bugbear is with the friends who feel they can just up and ditch their besties when they are getting woo’ed. That’s not cool. Me being in a relationship for two years and managing to maintain friendships, to not leave any of my dear friends behind, is not a miracle. It’s just me keeping my friends in my life. It’s really not that hard.
I totally understand dropping everything when you find your lobster, when you fall for The One…but friends?
I considered requesting this post be published under our ‘Anonymous’ header. The subject matter seemed at first to be a little dangerous – what if my friends read this, and assume I’m talking about them? What if they turn on me and defend themselves for their behaviour in past or current relationships? Then I realised that they needn’t!
All of my friends on social media are the wonderful ones who are able to balance friendships and relationships effectively. And I am so grateful to all of them. They get me. Thanks, guys. I’ll happily PDA with you. 

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