Always the Third Wheel
Image: Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash

Always the Third Wheel

It makes me hesitant to do things with anyone unless it's just two of us.
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Q. I seem to frequently hang with people who are better friends with each other than with me—or they're dating. It makes me hesitant to do things with anyone unless it's just two of us. Should I let this bother me?

A. Being the third wheel can be tough. Because it bothers you, my advice is to intentionally avoid these kinds of situations as much as possible. It's going to happen now and then—and that's fine—but here's how you can keep them from happening too often: When invited to hang out with two others, ask if your friend would mind if you called another friend to join you. Also, make it a point to spend time with people one-on-one so you can bond with them and feel like you're focused on each other.

A high school girl once told me she was almost always home watching TV alone. I asked her how often she initiated times to hang out with people. She admitted she usually waited for others to call her. I think that was the problem.

I encouraged her to make a list of people she would like to hang out with, and take the initiative to call them. She did. Later, she told me she wasn't spending very much time at home alone when she wanted to be out with friends. She was now setting her social calendar. Maybe you could follow her example.

I have one other suggestion: Consider joining a small group. Most youth groups have them. If your church doesn't, maybe a friend's church does. Along with being a great way to grow in your faith, a small group gives you opportunities to develop some close friendships in a group bigger than three.

Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.

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