Contributing writer Tiffany Ezuma submitted this post as a Reader Submission for Gurl. We love hearing your stories! If you’d like to submit your writing to Gurl, please send us an email at email@example.com.
When I was 14-years-old, one of my close friends was the first of all of us to get a boyfriend. He was two years older than us, which means the world when you’re a freshman in high school. Older automatically means cooler, especially since he could drive.
Things started changing quickly. The little I saw my best friend outside of school was cut in half now that she had a boyfriend. It was understandable that she wanted to spend her weekend time with her boyfriend… but I couldn’t help feeling abandoned. That used to be our time, when we would make collages, write silly stories and daydream about the future. I was happy for my friend, but at the same time, I felt that our relationship was suffering a bit since we did not spend as much time together.
So, I did something I probably shouldn’t have done. I backed off from hanging out with her even when she did want to hang out with me because I had begun to feel like I was her second choice. In my mind, she only wanted to hang out with me when her boyfriend wasn’t around. I felt like, on the rare occasion that we did hang out, I wasn’t exciting enough or cool enough to be worth her time anymore.
It didn’t help that she liked to tell me about what they did together, where they went and how much she liked him. Not having a boyfriend myself, I couldn’t relate or share her excitement. But it wasn’t like she didn’t try – she would drop little hints that she wanted me to get to know him. Unfortunately, I was so unable to see past my own point of view that I didn’t realize that it was important to her that I approved of him. In the end, I chose to ignore our friendship instead of confront my jealousy.
Avoiding her probably wasn’t my best move, but I was hurt and didn’t want to come off as possessive or jealous. Instead, I went to the complete extreme to prove that I didn’t need her and that I was cool with the situation. Most of the time I blew her off, I really wasn’t busy. Since she had been one of my best friends, I normally looked forward to my weekends being filled with hanging out with her. By not wanting to appear “needy” for her friendship, I ended up spending more time alone than I wanted to.
Lucky for me, my friend didn’t give up on me so easily. She confronted me about our friendship, telling me that she didn’t think I was supportive of her newfound love. And she was right. By not wanting to get hurt myself, I had keeping her at an arm’s length and not giving her boyfriend a chance. When she confronted me, I took the conversation as an opportunity to tell her how I felt as well.
I told her that I did feel jealous about her “cool, older boyfriend,” but that I also felt that her constantly talking about him when we were together wasn’t fair either. I explained that I was happy for her, but I was also unhappy with the lack of time it left for our friendship. It was a tough conversation to have, but I’m glad it happened. In the end, I never did get a chance to know her boyfriend, since it ended up being a typical short-lived high school relationship. But that situation did teach me about how to handle becoming the dreaded third wheel when friends get boyfriends.
Over the years, I’ve been a third wheel a lot of times. Right now, seven out of eight of my closest friends have a significant other while I’m still in single girl land. But unlike when I was 14, I’m okay with it. A lot of that has to do with my friends and I maturing and knowing how to manage our time better.
But I’ve also realized a few things about balancing friends and their boyfriends. For starters, you should give the new couple some space and dip into hanging out with them slowly. Spending too much time with anyone new is a surefire way to get annoyed or overwhelmed by the situation. And be honest with your friend if you’re feeling neglected! She may not realize you feel isolated and ignored by her. When people get in a happiness bubble, they may not realize how it affects their relationship with others.
And this is the most important – be honest with yourself. It’s okay to feel a little jealous. We’re all human and jealousy is an emotion we’re prone to. If you’re honest with yourself, it will be easier to get past any negative feelings towards your friend or her boyfriend. Your friendship can survive anything as long as you keep it honest and work through the problems. Mine did!
Have you ever been the third wheel when your friends have boyfriends? Has a friend ever ditched you for a guy? What did you do? Tell me in the comments.