May 22, 2017
advice articles
The “Third Wheel Complex”

The “Third Wheel Complex”

Dear Will and RJ,

I discovered your amazing relationship around March or February of this year (I think!) and I grew into a very hardcore fan. The two of you have a relationship, I desperately would like to have one day. That being said, I think I’ve grown quite bitter in these last few months. Here is the deal, I live with two of my best friends. They’re dating and I’m glad that they are, happy for them, all that good jazz. However, lately, I’ve grown into just not wanting to be around them. I’m starting to see things that have made me wonder exactly why I have the friends I have. I love my two best friends, a lot, but I resent them also. I resent being the third wheel all the time. I resent being around them while they’re being romantic or happy because that’s something I’ve never felt since I began the teenage years. I shouldn’t feel this way because they don’t intentionally make me feel like the third wheel, but honestly, I do. I’ve gotten to the point that when good things happen for them, I just simply reply with “I don’t care”. I hate this feeling, I want to be happy for them, but I find myself resenting them while wishing I had what they have. By no intentions am I a bad friend or ever trying to be one, I’m there when they need me. I’m just tired of having their relationship in my face or hearing their relationship problems. I haven’t had one, so I really wonder why they even come to me for advice about a domain I have no experience in. I’m confused, I’m tired, I’m just to the point where I almost don’t want to live with them. I do want to live with them, but the more I get overcome with this feeling the more I just think moving on my own would be better.

I guess my main question is this, what would you suggest I do about these thoughts and feelings? I hate being a third wheel, but I hate not being a good best friend more than anything. My friends are my life, I have known them for years, but lately I’m starting to feel like the friend they just keep around because rather than the friend they would want to be around.

Thanks for reading and stay awesome as always. I seriously heart you guys and your chemistry. Oh and RJ keep he writing stride strong, screenwriting is a real witch with a B. 🙂

Sincerely,

Antonio

Hi Antonio!

Well I know that you’re not alone in your desire to no longer be a third wheel. Believe it or not, I actually have some personal experience in this area. Two of my best friends from high school started dating during our freshman year, and are actually even still together to this day. Needless to say, I was their “third wheel” for many a social gathering, and would repeatedly harass them for being “too couply” in public. To a certain extent, this is all in good fun. It’s not outside the realm of any affectionate teasing that you’d engage in with a close friend. When there’s actual resentment at play, though, then it’s definitely gone too far.

Part of the problem might just be your living arrangement. After all, having someone as a roommate certainly takes a friendship to a whole new level. When living under the same roof as someone, pretty much all of their little ticks and idiosyncrasies get magnified, since you’re around them constantly and it’s really difficult to get away from them. Say you have a friend who has this annoying habit of popping their chewing gum or something. This sort of problem is much easier to handle when you’re not roommates, since you only really have to deal with this issue whenever the two of you are together. Now say that you and this friend are roommates. Since that automatically means that the two of you are spending much more time around each other, you’re going to have to experience that annoying habit much more often, and it’s therefore going to bother you that much more. Let’s also not forget that rooming with someone creates all sorts of potential issues that you normally never have to deal with regarding your friends. Say you have a friend who has the nasty habit of clipping their toenails on the living room coffee table. If you don’t live with that person, what do you care where they clip their toenails? However, when you live with that person, you might suddenly develop very strong feelings on the subject.

When it comes to most roommate issues, communication is one of the best weapons you have. The last thing you want to do is to let a problem sit there and fester. Doing that will only make your resentment build, to the point where you’re far more angry than what might be deemed rational for the situation. Many roommate issues boil down to a difference in how people were raised. Since we all come from different backgrounds, we all have different ideas as to what’s normal and what’s not. Perhaps you came from a household where PDA wasn’t really encouraged. Perhaps your friends were. Point is, no one is usually “right” or “wrong” in those situations (except in those cases where cleanliness and basic hygiene is at play). In these situations, communication is key and concessions will likely need to be made on both sides. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own home, but that’s just as true for them as it is for you. As long as everyone approaches the discussion in a calm, rational, and polite way, then it shouldn’t be difficult to reach a compromise. If not, though, then you may need to rethink your current living situation.


That being said, your “third wheel complex” is also an issue that you’ll need to tackle mostly on your own. After all, I get the feeling that you’d be harboring feelings of resentment even if your roommates/friends didn’t act so affectionate. You said it yourself, you envy this couple because you’ve never gotten the chance to feel what they feel. However, exactly how does resenting them improve your situation at all? If anything, all it does is create a rift between you and two friends whom you love and care for deeply. It certainly doesn’t help them at all, and it does nothing to improve your situation either. As much as wallowing in self-pity might seem like a good idea at the time, it can quickly become a nasty habit that will ultimately make it harder for us in the long run. After all, you’re going to have to get past these feelings of inadequacy before you’re able to engage in any sort of real relationship. Also know that, if you’re lonely now, having a boyfriend isn’t going to fix this problem for good. You’ll still be the same unhappy person no matter who you’re with. Your self-esteem or self-worth shouldn’t depend on the validation of anyone but yourself.

Thus, rather than sitting there, continuing to resent your friends, I think you should confide in them and have them help you get past this issue. Be honest with them, and see if they can help provide you with some insight as to why you’re so unhappy. If they really are true friends, then they should be more than happy to help you solve this problem. This helps put them back on your side again, since you all become allies working toward the same goal. Hopefully then you can be happy for your friends and their healthy relationship, rather than continue to fall in the trap of self-perpetuated negativity. Then, once you’ve reached a healthy and happy state emotionally, your friends can help you go out there and find a man of your very own.

-RJ

About RJ

RJ is a blogger/vlogger/writer and the other half of the NotAdamandSteve duo. When he's not making videos or writing stuff online he's usually working out, traveling, telling you factoids you never asked for, working out, or spending quality time with his new husband and German Shepherd.

3 comments

  1. agreed (y) well said RJ.

  2. Thank you for the feedback RJ. You are right in communication being the best method, which I learned before I realized you had answered my questions. More things, now, have hit the factor but the underlying statement remans the same. I do think that the living arrangement has to change. One, I’m working on improving myself personally on a mental and physical level. Living with them is not allowing me to really push myself to do that, because I’m falling into old habits with them. That’s part my fault for allowing it, but it happens. Thank you again for the advice. I’ll definitely factor your words of wisdom into what my decision will be.

  3. What a great answer, RJ!

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