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evegrimm's avatar

How to meet with a friend and her guy without feeling like a third wheel?

Asked by evegrimm (3695 points ) October 16th, 2009

I have a friend coming to visit the town where I live this weekend. She’s asked me to have lunch or dinner with her and her guy, and of course I said yes. She is very sweet, kind, caring, etc.; I have yet to meet her guy. We’ve mostly become “long-distance” friends; we email frequently and try to stay friendly.

Do you have any ideas for minimizing the “third wheel” feeling for when I do lunch/dinner? Also, I tend to be anxious around new people. Any ideas for minimizing this feeling?

Finally, I’m (mildly) concerned that my friend will worry about her guy and me…she’s stated on a number of occasions that she feels we have similar interests and are similar people. I have no interest in taking another person’s guy, but should I dress “down” anyway? (I have no experience with what etiquette dictates here; most of my other friends were late bloomers or didn’t invite me out with their SOs.)

Thank you for any and all help you can provide! (Does Miss Manners cover this sort of thing??)

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26 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Why should you worry – can’t you be social without “balance”? This seems to be a peculiarly feminine trait – balancing sexes in social situations. I have never know a guy to worry about it.

If her guy responds to you – hits on you – then you have done her a favour. Shown her the light. Just be yourself.

Resonantscythe's avatar

I hang out with a couple all the time and they never make me feel like a third wheel. The trick is that we’re never talking with only one person at any point, and any conversation should be handled like a network as opposed to a two way street with a one-one one situation.

Also note you were asked to join, as a host of sorts I would suspect she would not leave you out of anything.

As for the meeting new people thing, I usually go with some sort of (endearing) joke to break the ice.

Jeruba's avatar

If she suggested it, she’s obviously comfortable with the idea. No reason why you shouldn’t be too. People are just people, not bound together in matched pairs like salt and pepper shakers. (Even long-married couples should be capable of functioning as individuals.) Go, relax, enjoy meeting them both.

But do be the last to sit down so you can control the seating. In a booth, you let them slide in together, and then you sit across from her. At a table, presumably square, still sit across from her so she is not turning her head from side to side to pay attention to you, then him, then you, but rather, she can take you both in with a glance, and he is not in your direct line of vision.

Dress modestly, with no cleavage, but don’t be dowdy either. Wear something you feel confident in.

Make sure you keep your tone with him light and friendly, and do not get into a tête-à-tête with him, no matter what. Let him be the third wheel.

To get things rolling and reduce your general feeling of social unease, you might ask a leading question about them as a couple—how they got together, how they spent their vacation, what their holiday plans are—to allow them to establish their usness right up front so they can then just start to act like normal friends.

evegrimm's avatar

@DarkScribe, I’m referring less to the “mixing of sexes” and more the odd numbers (1 person tends to be left out) and the fact that 2 of the people are in a relationship, which, by its very nature, I’m not a big part of.

I do understand what you’re saying, though.

@Jeruba, that’s some sound advice. I will try my darndest to use it!

Jeruba's avatar

@evegrimm, if necessary, drop your umbrella, fumble your purse, make a detour to the restroom, or decide at the last minute to check your coat, but you be the last to sit down.

And then focus your attention on her.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba but you be the last to sit down.

What happens if you are with people like me who won’t sit while a woman is standing?

(Just being mischievous – but it is the way that I was raised.)

Jeruba's avatar

Simple. You take the seat offered to you by the gentleman who pulls out your chair for you, and then you go to the restroom, check your coat, whatever, and when you come back you say, “You know, I think I’d rather sit over here” and change your seat.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba _Simple. _

I have a feeling that you have done this before.

Jeruba's avatar

I was coached by a master (I dare not say a mistress) who explained to me the psychology of seating (and many other things). One thing she taught me was that when you go into a meeting where you expect a conflict, take the seat next to your adversary, not confrontationally opposite. In a situation where you need to read the tone, sit at the opposite end from where attention will be focused so you can see everyone. And always take an open (relaxed, arms spread, wide body language) posture, no matter how defensive you feel. Because this woman was right about everything she ever told me except maybe one thing, I just apply the same principles to other situations, such as this one. Here, @evegrimm is forming an alliance with the other woman and not with the man.

P.S. And a little deviousness and subterfuge just come naturally to some of us. They make life more interesting, don’t you think?

markyy's avatar

I was in a situation like that and stopped saying: Yes, and now I rarely see them. So if they are good friends and you can handle it (no secret crushes) you might want to keep doing it.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba I was coached by a master

Now you are sounding like an Alan Pease devotee. I have read him (and met him.)

Jeruba's avatar

<no reaction> Don’t know him.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba <no reaction> Don’t know him.

It’s ok, he knows him well enough to compensate for all those who don’t know him. He was the original “Body Language” author. He advises many of the things that you just did.

Jeruba's avatar

My coach was a manager I reported to for about 6 years. She was a very calculating person, benignly so, but very. When she understood that I could see what she was doing and how she managed every situation, she denied nothing and instead taught me her tricks.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba P.S. And a little deviousness and subterfuge just come naturally to some of us. They make life more interesting, don’t you think?

Yes, I do very much think agree.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba she denied nothing and instead taught me her tricks.

It is nice when that happens. I hope that she didn’t refer to you as “Grasshopper”. ;)

I hadn’t thought about Alan Pease since my psych days, not until that “Lie to me” show aired.

Jeruba's avatar

I have no idea how she saw me in her mind, but I know she told me some extraordinary things that I will never forget. This amazing woman with several Ph.D.‘s and eidetic memory died of a brain tumor a year and a half ago.

derekfnord's avatar

Maybe I’ll be the only one to have this take, but…

I think you’re way overthinking it…

Your friend has invited you to dinner. Yes, her guy will be there too, but he knows you’re her friend. You’re not entering into the relationship between him and her… he’s entering into the relationship (a friendly relationship) enjoyed by you and her. He’s the newcomer in this dynamic… not you.

Just go to dinner with your friend, and don’t worry about it. Don’t dress inappropriately sexy or something, like you might be trying to swoop in on her guy. But beyond that, just go visit and hang out and have a good time.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Jeruba This amazing woman with several Ph.D.‘s and eidetic memory died of a brain tumor a year and a half ago.

That is unfortunate.

That is my stock in trade, what is often referred to as “Total Recall”. I have never studied, but hold six degrees. In many ways it is cheating – like being born tall etc., but I appreciate it.

Have you read “SuperLearning”?

Jeruba's avatar

No, but I think we are straying far from @evegrimm‘s question.

evegrimm's avatar

@Jeruba, true, but I don’t mind. It’s all terribly interesting. :D

DarkScribe's avatar

@evegrimm

Jeruba is correct – I sometime tend to forget that this is not a chat forum – sorry. I probably only did so as I regard Jeruba’s response as pretty well covering all the bases.

Not much more to add – other than don’t spoil you evening by worrying about what might happen or what someone might think. Take your cues from her, and just be polite but not in any way intimate (conversationally) with him – even if he flirts a lot. (I tend to do that even when in company with my wife – she does the same.)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I agree with @DarkScribe‘s first answer.

You’re going out with them to see your friend from out of town. Meeting her boyfriend is incidental to that event; he’s actually the third wheel, not you. This is not “My boyfriend and I are on a date, how about coming along?” But “Hey, I’m in town and would love to see you! And by the way, I brought my boyfriend along would love for him to meet you.”

As for you stealing her boyfriend, my experience with people saying “you’re so much alike” is that I generally can’t stand the person. I guess familiarity does breed contempt.

NewZen's avatar

Call me. We’ll double-date.

hearkat's avatar

There is some excellent advice above. I have always been dreadfully shy, with a few close friends from childhood. When I started dating a few years back, I decided that I would just be myself, as if I had known them for years. After all, if this new person becomes a friend or more that’s who they’ll get to know eventually. So don’t set up false pretenses, just relax and enjoy the moment. Either they like you or they don’t, which is the way it is no matter how you choose to act… so you might as well be yourself!

That is my generic advice for meeting new people. In the situation you describe above, you have the advantage of knowing her for years… dress and act casually as if it were you and she alone, making up for lost time. If course you want to choose attire appropriate to the establishment, but don’t dress like you would for a first date.

I hope you have fun. Please let us know how it goes!

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

bring hookers. be coked up.

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