AdviceHey, Bonita!

My Friends Are Dating, and I Feel Left Out

My best friends have been dating each other for a few years, and while I am super happy for them and earnestly support their relationship, I am really missing the time I used to get to spend with them as individuals. I feel like they operate as a unit now, as this exclusive group of two, and that is making me feel very much on the outside of two different relationships that I used to feel very comfortable in. I live with one of the parties in this relationship, and the other is over at our place all the time, but I feel like they never make time to hang out with me in the same way that we used to before they started dating each other. I get that things change, and their relationship takes a huge priority in the group dynamic, but I’m struggling to find a way to talk to them about this that doesn’t make me sound insecure or childish.

When we all first started being friends a couple of years ago, we used to hang out together all the time, but now I feel more like a third wheel than an actual member of the group. Recently, I’ve had to fly solo for things that we all used to do together, and I’m fine with that because I’m deeply introverted, but I can’t help but miss the times we used to spend together. I’m still struggling with feeling like I’ve been left out and that they don’t value my presence in our friend group the way that they used to before they started publicly dating each other. I just really miss my friends and want to find a way to not be such an awkward third wheel when I’m around them. Any advice on how to broach this subject?


Squeaky McThirdWheel

Heya Squeaky,

I respect your introversion and possible tendency towards avoiding conflict, though I do believe you’ll have to get out of your comfort zones to rectify this situation. I think you’re nervous to address this because it’s plain scary to ask a friend to change their behavior, but you shouldn’t feel insecure or childish about wanting your friends back. You’re describing the primary challenge of being friends with both halves of a couple, but these two aren’t the norm. They’re clearly in the honeymoon phase right now, and I’d bet a dollar that eventually things will cool off, and they’ll become more of themselves again.  

You can be proactive in your desires by reaching out to each individual about activities that you used to share together, maybe first by just reminiscing and being excited.  Send a few texts singing the praises of a fandom you have in common or something, conjuring up old memories of those solo hangouts you used to have, then invite them to binge-watch a season of the show. Something like that. If you feel obligated to invite their partner every time you make plans, I strongly discourage you from doing that. You may think it rude to leave their boo out of your reindeer games, but plenty of couples will tell you that they are glad to hang with friends without their partners. If you extend an invitation and they automatically invite their partner along, well, that’s not great, and it can be tricky to turn that down sometimes. Some folks won’t get that you just wanna hang with them alone and will assume that you’re judging their partner or their relationship, and you just gotta shoot that premise down whenever they mention it.  Speak your truth kindly and firmly, and assure them of your love for their friendship and your support of their relationship. You just wanna binge “The Mandalorian” again with your friend!

That’s a worst-case scenario, but you haven’t described them as being shoved THAT far up each other’s asses.  You’ve been friends with them long enough to really know them as people, and one’s even your roommate.  I don’t think this will require a heart-to-heart of any kind, but being just a bit more assertive on your part should do.  Whether it’s friendship or French fries, ask for the things you want and be confident in your right to have them.

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