Okay, so I am NOT talking about a physical wheel for like a bike or car; I am talking about being a wheel in regards to friends, i.e. a 3rd or 5th wheel. For some, the idea of being a 3rd wheel is sad and lonely and not desired, however for others (including myself) we would rather be included even if that means being the odd numbered person in a group then not part of the group at all. I have spoken to friends and this idea of being included seems to be something that is very sought after [please note, most of the people I have talked to are women so maybe this is just a ladies thing, not sure]. I noticed there seems to be 2 distinct times in our lives that friendships can be lost because someone is not “wheel”.
Single vs. in a relationship
Have you ever noticed that when a women starts dating a guy she starts hanging out with him and other couples? I have! I have experienced this personally with friendships where a girl friend and I would hang out all the time when they were single but once they are a couple I barely see them. Then, when I do see this friend it’s usually just them – usually not them AND their significant other. However, that same friend has no problem bringing their significant other to hang out with other couple friends. Let me tell you, being the one left out SUCKS! Do not get me wrong, I understand that couples like to do date nights but seriously seeing a movie, going out to dinner, or going to a bar does not have to be a couples ONLY thing, at least not all time… single people enjoy these things too. From talking to my friends there are 3 things I have observed/ learned.
- When you are the single one and left out it is hard. Yes we might be in different points in our life with regards to relationships but that does not mean that we don’t have other things in common still and that there wasn’t a friendship before the new significant other.
- The person in the relationship does NOT usually try to leave out the single friend. Instead at times they seem to be trying to look out for them and not make them feel left out or remind them that they are single so instead they just hang out with single friends.
- It is harder for the single person to let go. I think part of this is because when someone becomes a couple they have another person to go to and end up gaining some of their couple friends. The single friend who is left out on the other hand is still along and now is losing a friend.
Parents vs. non-parents
Another time in people’s lives that I have seen this happen is when a women has a baby. Friendships seem to change for many when this occurs. Couples who are pregnant slowly start to hang out with other pregnant couples and then once they have children, they hang out with other parents. Overtime, relationships with single friends and other friends who just don’t have children seem to slowly disappear. I get it, you have something HUGE in common; parents have a different schedules and priorities compared to single people/ couples without children. When hanging out with other parents you are able to have adult time easier then when your with others who don’t have children because other parents can bring their children to distract/ play with your children while the adults hang out.
So, whose fault is it?
I truly believe that it is no one’s fault that these friendship changes occur. With that being said, I think we as a whole can do better at being more inclusive and aware of others feelings. For most, we will experience all of these different stages in life – single, being in a relationship, being a parent – some already have. Think about your past friendships, did one of you or both of you stop communicating with one another when one of your phases of life occurred and you weren’t included? For most the answer is yes, but the thing is when we are the one in the new stage of life we seem to forget what is was like when we weren’t invited to be a “wheel” at different events which overtime resulted in a lost friendship.
As a single person, I would love to hear about a group event and be the one to decide if I wanted to be the “wheel” rather than have someone else decide that for me. When it comes to children, some people and/or couples might not want them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like being around them or you, the parents! I have luckily been able to have friends who have had children and though our friendships are not the same as they were when they were single or childless, the fact is that the friendship is still there and I enjoy not only time with the friend but also their children. So remember, if you are someone who is in a relationships or has a child – don’t forget the friends you had before this stage in your life.