I’ve been hanging out with a lot of couples lately, but not necessarily by choice. It’s no fun. It seems that some cocky, trigger-happy Cupid has been hovering around my circle of friends recently, changing and wrecking everything. Except for me, of course. I’m far too strong.
I think that couples are the worst, especially the type that are always touching and kissing and saying stupid stuff like “honey,” and “lovecakes,” and using other dumb pet names. I especially hate the touching part. I hate how couples can magically transform a three-person couch into a loveseat with a viewing gallery. Public displays of affection are like those obnoxious dances that football players do after scoring a touchdown, simultaneously celebrating what they have won, and taunting everyone else.
At the very least these PDA(ers) are inconsiderate and self-centered. The couple rarely stops to think about how they are affecting those of us who are also self-centred, but single, and therefore more important. And contrary to what those pairs may think, we aren’t necessarily happy for them. You see, lovebirds have this strange misconception that once they’ve hooked up that everyone else’s problems dissolve into a sloppy puddle of premarital-bliss.
I remember my friend and I talking about this while watching a Maple Leafs hockey game over a basket full of nine-cent wings (obviously, this was without girls). “Couples are never as fun as when they’re single,” he declared. He was right. He proved it too. Ever since a certain lady became a special lady, he has been hardly any fun at all.
I’ve had a ton of experience being the third wheel and sometimes even the fifth wheel in different situations. Several times in the past few years I’ve made false commitments to celibacy and grudgingly embraced a lifetime of being the odd-numbered wheel. There is something noble to being the third wheel, something strong too. When all around has fallen, you still stand.
Whenever I think of my role as a third wheel, I think of those silly cars they have in England with only three wheels; two in the back and one up front. I always think of myself as that lone leading wheel. As the third wheel of this tipsy vehicle, I have a lot of authority. Not only can I guide and direct the path of the car, but I also determine whether it will stay upright or completely topple over, you know, if a sharp turn is taken too fast. Really, either position (erect or prostrate to the ground) is fine; it really is a case-by-case scenario. It’s an important position, and I’ve had a lot of practice, but surprisingly, I’m still really bad at it.
I figure my problem is that I’m far too respectful of the happy pair. I guess I’m too patient, trusting that time and internal matters alone will lead to the rusting and dilapidation of the relationship, without my help.
I need to get bolder. I should be actively seeking to make things as awkward and uncomfortable for them as possible, either by bringing up unfortunate secrets, sitting between the two of them, or calling attention to their ‘love’ in public. Whatever it takes, really. As third-wheels, we shouldn’t be afraid of walking into the middle of private moments; instead of running away, we should be looking to barge in as much as possible. There is no such thing as personal space, and ‘alone time’ is non-existent.
Trying to weasel or guilt-trip your way into date evenings is also a good plan. It’s important to exploit the fact that these couples look at you as a lonesome charity case.
You may call all of this inconsiderate or jerkish; I’d agree, but I’d also call it tit-for-tat. I’d also wager a bet that some psychologist would say that I’m doing this hoping for some attention. That doctor would probably be right (however, if that’s all a shrink could tell me, I’d feel ripped off).
I guess my insecurity with being a third wheel might boil down to the fact that I feel jealous. Maybe I’m just bitter and upset about my lack of a significant other. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much of The Cure. Problem is, I really like The Cure, especially the song “Pictures of You.” Perhaps I’m sick of feeling the pain of unrequited love like the poor prophet Hosea (and in turn, I guess God as well) and as a result I take things out on my “luckier” friends. Maybe it’s because TV makes it look so easy, but experience tells me it’s so hard. Maybe that’s why I hate being a third wheel.
Throughout these struggles with singleness, the thing that I’ve learned is that I should turn to God for relationship, for acceptance, for intimacy. In short, God’s been teaching me that He is love, and perfect love at that. I know that doesn’t sound like anything ground-breaking, but as much as we may claim to know it, how often do we actually live like it’s true? It’s horribly ironic that the most cliché things are also the most easily forgotten, and the most frustrating.
God’s love for me is constant. It is satisfying, it is pure, it is obsessive. I know that all of this is true. I just have trouble believing it and walking in it. There have been a few occasions recently where I’ve received the gift of vision to see that reality playing out in my life. Those are the best times. They make my other relationship worries seem obsolete and even stupid. They are the times I should be striving for, yet I insist on looking elsewhere.
God gave us this desire to love and be loved. The best thing about it is that He is willing and wanting and waiting to be in a fulfilling two-way love relationship with us; He’s given us the longing and the means to satisfy that hunger. The worst thing is that we’re often too preoccupied to take Him up on the offer.
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