It's no secret that most people want to feel included. Just think back at your days in high school (or think about now if you're still in high school), and do your best to relive any moment where you felt left out. All of your friends are going to a party, but you weren't invited. The feeling is indescribably painful. So, it should go without saying that most people do their best to feel as they belong somewhere whenever given the opportunity.
As it turns out, though, being included can sometimes be a curse in disguise.
In some cases, if you force your way into inclusion, you run the risk of being the odd person out. And for proof of why exactly this is the last thing you should ever do to yourself, keep reading to check out the 15 of the most pathetic third wheels to cringe over.
15 'We Look Great, You Guys.'
School dances are a seminal part of people's lives. Sure, some people might think it seems trivial at the time, but they became simpler moments in time that people can reflect back on, once adulthood enters the scene and grabs them by the throat. For some people, however, actually finding a date in order to create said memory is the real issue. Which, ladies and gentlemen, leads us to this saddest of sad moments: the third wheel dance date.
While it was incredibly kind of this couple to allow their friend to tag along for the ride, it arguably might have been significantly less depressing had she just stayed at home for the night. Because this is just... painful.
Then again, let's not let the topic of hand distract anyone from this gentleman's egregiously spiked hair. Surely that 'hairstyle' must have broke some sort of school code, right?
14 Always Ed
The fact that Ed Sheeran sings so many love ballads ought to clue listeners in to the fact that he may not be especially lucky in his love life. Then again, if his songs weren't proof enough, then simply check out all the various photos depicting him in what is clearly his natural state: a third wheel.
Deep down, the guy could very well be happy (he's definitely making quite a healthy living off of hapless love), but that doesn't change the fact that he's still very much never in the one-of-two-wheel crowd. He's an outsider; an outsider who looks unmistakably defeated any time he's caught on camera next to a couple.
But, again, at least the guy has a solid record deal. That surely takes off some of the sting.
13 *Sings 'Lean On Me,' Then Cries*
Any decent friend has their friend's back. When the going gets tough, they're there for them. They catch them when they fall, offer a shoulder to cry on when needed, and listen any time they need to spill their heart out. Life is tough, and having a friend around can easily help dull the pain.
That said, though, a friend can always be a literal back to lean on when their BFF is trying to enjoy some one-on-one time with their significant other (as is seen in this photo). The dude in the blue plaid shirt seems to have just given up on caring anymore. He's a third wheel. He may care deeply about his friend, but when all is said and done, he definitely comes second. Kudos to him for sticking around, but also... can someone remind him that there is a whole world out there for him to explore on his own?
12 I Do...n't
When your best friend gets married, it's a truly beautiful thing. You get to witness the beginning of a lifetime of happiness; you get to behold the start of a family and the inception of something so beautiful that words can hardly do it justice. Unfortunately, though, when your best friend gets married, you have to understand that you're finally in the backseat, instead of riding shotgun. Gone are the days of one-on-one friend time, replaced by a new status you'll have to start getting used to ASAP: third wheeling.
This photo sums up perfectly—in vicious, devastating detail— what it means to embark on the road of third wheel-dom. The journey is bumpy and troubling, but more than anything (in case this photo doesn't spell it out enough for you), it's achingly depressing/cringeworthy.
11 Everyone Has Something To Offer
When you're someone's best friend, you have so much to offer: loyalty, love, care, fun, etc. But when you're the best friend of someone in a relationship, you've got to dig deeper. Your friend is now deeply distracted, so you'll have to up your game. You'll have to offer things that stand out above whatever it is their S.O. is offering (and you had better believe that what they're offering is quite substantial).
This photo is a clear example of what you shouldn't offer. Chips, while delicious and crunchy, are nothing compared to whatever is they happen to be doing every time your friend fails to text you right away (use your imagination). Still, though, when you're a third wheel, you get desperate, and if nothing else, when the chips fail to work in getting your best friend's attention, they never fail in satisfying your appetite.
10 *Hey Siri, Define Loneliness*
There are varying degrees of being a third wheel. In some cases, a third wheel is the awkward addition on date night, while in other cases, they're the designated driver maintaining safety while their friends have fun. Whether you've been a third wheel yourself or not, chances are you're more than familiar with this.
In some rare situations, however, the third wheel status can be exaggerated to even sadder lengths; that's because in some cases, the third wheel is sitting on a couch, alone, while his friends are filling up the rest of couch, making out.
Far worse things happen in the world (that much can't be denied), but the level of pathetic on display here is near-impossible to rival. Will someone please throw this guy a life preserver?
It's important to be proud of your friends. Even if what they're accomplishing has nothing to do with you directly, you should still be happy for them. That's one of the main unwritten rules of friendship. Look it up. (Actually, don't. It's unwritten.) Still, though, just because you're expected to be happy for them doesn't mean it's going to be easy.
Take this young woman, for example. Her BFF is obviously very happy with her S.O., and as it turns out, said BFF has just gotten engaged. Now, on one hand, she's doing her duty in terms of being there for her friend, but where she falls short is in the visuals.
This isn't just a third wheel, this is a defected third wheel; a third wheel who has lived through one-too-many third wheel experiences and can seemingly no longer handle the charade any longer. #RIPSelfRespect
8 It Exists
In case you thought that the act of being a third wheel was unnatural, keep in mind that some dining establishments know well enough that that isn't true. In fact, there's no establishment on this planet more familiar with the third wheel lifestyle than a restaurant. They see these sad saps enter and exit regularly, technically being part of the fun, but being alone and sad in reality.
So, here it is: the third wheel booth. Now, if it's any consolation, third wheels don't have to constantly pretend that an empty space is their imaginary date. Now, third wheels can feel as though they're being officially regarded. Does it make them seem any less sad? No. In fact, it might make things worse. But hey — recognition is the first step to... something.
Ah, nothing like a group photo... Someone whips out their phone, aims it outward, and everybody huddles close together, smiling. It's a pleasant bonding experience, and it's guaranteed to make even the loneliest person feel included. That is, at least, when the photo is actually a group photo...
In this particular photo, that isn't the case. The third wheel thought that the she was in on the action, so to speak, only to discover that—no—she's definitely not. What's worse, though, than discovering that is the case, is the fact that her expressions are caught in real-time. There's a sad, little journey happening here; it starts with elation, is followed up with confusion, and then ends with a depressing understanding.
Welcome to the Third Wheel Club. It's always accepting new members.
6 Harry Potter And The Third Wheel
Even though Harry Potter is the main character in the Harry Potter series (his name being in the title kind of speaks for itself), that's not to say that he's necessarily the Wizarding World's Don Juan. In fact, throughout the series, Harry has proven to have very little skill when it comes to wooing women. What's more is that, despite being the only character who can defeat the great and powerful Lord Voldemort, he also doubles as third wheel for his two best friends, Ron and Hermione.
Just look at him in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. Trying to force himself into a hug while the other two are clearly doing just fine on their own is next-level awkward.
Is there a spell to make this discomfort stop?
5 'Joke's On Them.'
The best way to overcome certain negative feelings is denial. It's not necessarily healthy, nor will it actually make any difference towards a more successful outcome, but denial can sometimes do wonders. Especially when you're a third wheel.
In this fella's case, convincing himself that the movie he's watching is significantly more satisfying than making out could ever be is the first stage of denial. Just look at him lounging there, not even having the self-respect to jump ship and find someone of his own. Heck, even the fact that the other guys' legs are stretched and relaxed, while his are closed and bound, just makes it that much sadder for some reason...
Then again, he could be watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and if that's the case, then his denial totally gets a pass. That movie is legit.
4 *Takes N Train, Never Comes Back*
When you're a third wheel, it's horrible. But when you're a third wheel in a public setting, it's like a slap in the face. This guy thinks he can enjoy a relaxing day out on the town, but, little does he know, nature is working against him. Nature has presented him with a friend who is in a relationship of his very own, essentially throwing it in his friend's face.
So, what should he do? Should he simply accept the life that the universe has presented him with and just proceed as a third wheel, or does he run? It's fitting that he's in a subway station, because the options to escape and never return are right at his disposal. If he so chooses, he can flee this place and enjoy a life where third wheels can roam free in society without the burden of neglect.
3 All The Cringe
Everyone has different feelings when it comes to PDA (public displays of affection). Some folks are totally fine with it. They figure that if two people are in love with one another, they ought to feel free to express that love (assuming they don't push any boundaries, that is). Other folks, however, aren't quite as romantic. They tend to see PDA as 'inappropriate.' They're usually turned off by people kissing in public and, TBH, they'd probably rather it didn't exist in the first place.
However, when that second type of person also doubles as a third wheel, the combination can be toxic. They're constantly stuck around the very lifestyle they can't stand.
Now, by definition, that's self-sabotage, but hey — people can feel free to live their lives however they please. Even if the way they please tends to pain them in more ways than one on a daily basis.
2 Have Fun, You Two
Okay, so it's one thing to be an awkward third wheel in a relationship, but to be awkwardly sitting on the edge of a bed while people are getting 'busy' in said bed is something else entirely. And yet, here we are with that very scenario...
When you're feeling alone, it sucks. But, honestly, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stretch your limbs and get out of your comfort zone (especially given the fact that it's not especially comfortable). Try something new. Separate yourself from whatever it is that might be holding you back. Will it be easy? Not necessarily. But will it be worth it? Undoubtedly. Otherwise, you run the risk of being like this guy here — Mr. 'Don't Mind Me, I'll Just Sit Here While You Bang.'
1 Third Wheelwolf
Back when Twilight was pretty much everyone's everything, fans could hardly settle their nerves over whether Bella would choose Edward or Jacob. Eventually, this storm settled (SPOILER: she chose Edward), and the world went on as usual. *world breathes collective sigh of relief* Sadly, though, this didn't happen without repercussions. In the end, Jacob ultimately had no other choice but to don a new role; a role that not even a werewolf had the strength to gain control over.
The role was that of a third wheel — a role that Jacob (and, by extension, actor Taylor Lautner) had to suffer through with shredded pride.
Even if you hated the Twilight series, it's hard not to feel at least some pity for the dude. This picture just reeks of spoiled awkward sauce, and Sir Lautner has himself caked in it.
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