Everyone’s had that incredibly awkward moment in a restaurant, where you’re just trying to enjoy your magnificently delicious entree at your own leisure, when you regrettably break your loving gaze with your food, only to find another couple passionately playing the traditional sport of saliva-swapping tonsil hockey. Hastily averting your embarrassed gaze, you turn your attention back to your plate, only to miserably realize that the only thing your lips have come in contact with is that mouthwatering steak or those fabulously greasy fries.

The awkward part here, though, is not even that you witnessed such an open display of affection, but the fact that the couple in the embarrassingly passionate embrace are your friends.

It’s a universal fact, a common right of passage, if you will. Every one has, at some point in their lives, played the humorous, humiliating, or hazardous role of a third wheel. Whether it was intentional or not, we’ve all had outings where we have been stuck with the role of the the misfit or the aptly named awkward turtle.

Ultimately, the world renowned “Urban Dictionary” defines the art of being a third wheel as “one who deters the socialization of a couple, perhaps when being invited out of pity or through a feeling of duty.” Surprisingly, the universally acknowledged, world renowned, highly respected Urban Dictionary is dead wrong.

As the Queen of Third Wheeling, a master of awkward turtle-ness, a Sansei in tricycle-kung fu, I can confidently say that the role of the third wheel is to be taken with pride, dignity, massive responsibility, and most importantly - humour. Therefore, I am pleased to pass on this ancient art form as well as inform you of the duties that must be fulfilled in order to fully enjoy this role, and ultimately avoid embarrassing yourself.

As a third party individual, the first thing to remember is the importance of boundaries. Never invite yourself as a third wheel, wait for an invitation to come to you. If you’re already a naturally awkward person, your friend who has just entered into a relationship will be eagerly calling you within a day. Do not fret. Your time to shine is near. Forcing yourself upon a couple, however, may risk the possibility of intruding on their “quality time.” Doing so may result in embarrassingly awkward instances that will surely scar you for life.

When invited to tag along with a couple, remember your essential role. You are the entertainment. They are nobility, you are the jester. You were invited for the sole purpose of being laughed at, made fun of, and felt sorry for. Therefore, embrace this role with your entire being. In other words, let the banter rein! They don’t care about your upcoming midterm or your dog’s new range of showtricks, despite the fact that these are your favourite topics to talk about. Try your best to show this couple a good time. Make jokes, laugh until you can’t breathe, and unleash your innate gift for sarcasm.

Here come’s the worst part: as a third wheel, it is your duty to witness some instances of “couple cuteness,” otherwise known as public displays of affection. Therefore, be sure to offer an “awww” or an adoring gaze each time they kiss or hold hands. This won’t be creepy unless you attempt to join in. And I know how hard it is to swallow back the vomit that threatens to escape, but it is your duty to witness those hideously cute moments. At the same time, don’t be afraid to speak up when your friends go over board and things get too awkward for you.

If you have these simple rules down, then you should be good to go! The third wheel life is not an easy one, but it’s a rewarding one. You make your friends happy. You get to witness those unpleasant aspects of relationships that make you grateful to be a free individual. And hey, being a third wheel doesn’t have to be a permanent role. Tell your accompnying couple to bring another friend; you know what they say - two’s a party, three’s a crowd, but four’s a fiesta!

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.