Traveling with Couples - Third Wheeling It

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Third-wheeling it on trips

Traveling with Couples: Third Wheeling it!

You’re ecstatic to hop on that plane with your best friend and go on an epic adventure together! You’ve been planning this trip for ages. Envisioning all the merriment you will share. The beautiful bonding experience of traveling with your bestie. Oh, but then. "The Boyfriend". The only thing casting a shadow on your perfect plans. “The boyfriend” is also coming. No, not your boyfriend. Here is a little revelation as to what it’s like to travel as the third wheel to a couple of starry-eyed lovebirds.

Your Emotional State of Mind Will Affect the Third-Wheel Experience

Some people are disgusted by seeing a couple going at it in broad daylight. PDA makes people uncomfortable! There’s a lot of shady stares, grimaces, and disapproving grumbles from those, especially the elderly, who have the misfortune of witnessing it.

Other people feel joy when seeing these public demonstrations of affection. They smile, say “aww,” and for a moment feel an uplifting rush inside their heart, thanks to the magnificent beauty of love.

Your emotional state of mind will affect your reaction to the couple’s romantic embrace on the sidewalk. If you are currently fed up with the male-persuasion after too many horrendous Tinder dates, if you are convinced that love is a fabrication used by society to manipulate people into heteronormative relationships which ultimately function to empower the patriarchal, capitalist systems of government we’re under, or if you just don’t have the mental willpower to deal with seeing a full-blown makeout at 9 AM, then most likely you won’t enjoy the third-wheeling experience while traveling with couples.

If you’re feeling high on life and optimistic that the outcome of the vast, uncertain future, which looms above your head like a levitating ax, will be success and happiness, then chances are seeing people in love is going to make you feel good. It makes you imagine, blissfully, that someday you will have somebody to smooch in the middle of the street and not care about who it bothers. You want to believe in their love because wouldn’t it be so wonderful to have that yourself?

 My best friend and I do so many trips together that we refer to me as "the boyfriend" now, since we're basically like a couple when we travel.

My best friend and I do so many trips together that we refer to me as "the boyfriend" now, since we're basically like a couple when we travel.

The Yin and Yang of Third-Wheeling

During some of my travels, I have third-wheeled with friends and their boyfriends. Back in 2015, when I was living in Europe for a year on my study abroad, I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone, and it was more difficult whenever I would travel as The Third Wheel. I felt a lot of burning envy. I would get annoyed upon seeing my friend meekly kiss her boyfriend to be polite, instead of passionately kissing him like I’m sure she wanted to. When we stayed in hostels and airbnb’s together, I would wonder what they were doing that was inspiring so many giggles. I felt like an old maid. Expired milk. That one dog at the shelter that nobody wants to adopt. Constantly being around a couple reminded me of what I was missing, and it bothered me.

I recently returned to Europe to do more traveling in Spain, and I traveled with a few of my friends who, again, brought their boyfriends along. This time was different. I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost two years now. Seeing my friends being close to their guys reminded me again of what I was missing, and I got into some melancholic moods missing my boyfriend. I wanted to have him there with me to be able to share the thrill of traveling with him!

This is the yin and yang of third-wheeling for me. If I am in the state of mind where the sight of an attractive man makes me want to start a fight just because I am so angry from all the disappointments of love, then third-wheeling is going to be  full of a lot of eye rolls and sighs from me. If I’m feeling happy, emotional, and spiritually uplifted by life, then I will take the third-wheeling experience as an opportunity to reminisce about the sweetness of young love.

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Making the Most out of Wheel #3

One of my favorite things about being The Third Wheel is embarrassing my friends in front of their boyfriends using any means possible. Mention those mortifying middle-school memories. Force your bestie to relive the time when she slid on her ass down the staircase in front of your entire class. Bring up her obnoxious family. Give her a really hard time, because it’s fun to see her blush and for her boyfriend to awkwardly laugh off whatever joke you just cracked at her expense.

Especially if they are newly-dating and the guy is European, or from somewhere else than where you’re from. Have fun with the language barrier if there is one! Embrace being the dorky third pea in the pod. Traveling is such a bonding experience that chances are you and the boyfriend will also become buds! This is the perfect time to ascertain whether he is any good for your best friend, anyway. Test him. How does he react to situations in a foreign country? How much does he know about the places you’re traveling to? How does he treat you, as his girlfriend’s best friend, the third-wheel?

Not the Third Wheel, but the Three Amigos!

All in all, the majority of times that I have third-wheeled on my travels have been fun experiences. More often than not, your bestie will not show much affection for her boyfriend simply out of respect for your comfort. You’ll all be basically The Three Amigos until she slips him the tongue in the restaurant while you’re in the bathroom, but you see it because you weren’t actually going to the bathroom, you just wanted to test whether or not they had been waiting to kiss all day long while you were there, and you were right, genius!

All jokes aside, don’t be uncomfortable about the idea of being the third wheel on a trip. If it’s your close friend and her boyfriend, chances are it will be like it always is when you guys hang out, plus one extra dude who is trying hard to get you to like him. If it’s one of your friends who is more like an acquaintance, then it is risky to go as The Third Wheel, because you don’t know how you will be treated by them. Either way, I would say, do it!

Don’t let it make you feel bitter about your own love life. Don’t let it gross you out when they kiss. Be supportive and encouraging. Love needs to be nurtured! Don’t let them get carried away and plan a romantic evening at the Eiffel Tower while you’re stuck in the hostel twiddling your thumbs, though! It’s your trip, too. Be a part of it.

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We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

 Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in California, NYC, France, and Hawaii, and is currently traveling. Follow her along on her  Instagram !

Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in California, NYC, France, and Hawaii, and is currently traveling. Follow her along on her Instagram!

WRITE FOR THE FEMALE TRAVEL COLLECTIVE