What is more effective than all your dating apps? Being a third wheel – Los Angeles Times

Years ago, I went on a date with an aspiring comedian I had met on Bumble. Halfway through, it was clear he was only matching girls so he could try out his material. Before he could prepare his next joke, I wished him well, told him I’d be on the lookout for his next show, and slipped out the door. And then I deleted his profile immediately. Instead of going home and cursing the state of dating in LA, I decided to meet up with my newly engaged friend and her fiancé at a nearby bar. I always welcomed the distraction of my pair of friends: I would entertain them with tales from the dating trenches and regale them with their brutally honest relationship advice.

The three of us settled into a quarter-top next to a pool table. Over the course of the evening, we noticed something: Our unoccupied seat served as a revolving door, a welcoming place for people to sit down and strike up a conversation. Highlights included a thirty-year-old who had a great job at the Natural History Museum and another who sheepishly shared that he was the first to arrive at his own birthday party. (We bought him a drink and then gave his friends a bad time.) When I ran out of pool partners, my friends asked the group next to us if any of them would “help their friend lose with grace”. A nice, seemingly shy guy volunteered and later asked for my number.

We lost that night, but after laughing and sharing stories, I came home with a winner: with the right people, place, and point of view, being a third wheel, aka the third wheel, can be a great way to meet people in Los Angeles. . Since then, I’ve perfected my craft: scrolling through my contacts, identifying couples I like spending time with, and asking if I can block their date. “We are on the precipice of a cultural renaissance,” I proclaimed to a friend as if I had made a profound discovery. “Being the third wheel is not just the result of unforeseen circumstances; it is the new frontier”. My social calendar has been booked ever since.

You might think that this setup doesn’t sound particularly romantic. And yes, it’s hard to shake the negative connotations of the term: the origin of the “third wheel” dates back to the latter part of the 20th century, referring to the cumbersome third or fifth wheel of a horse-drawn carriage, which did not have function and stability. It evolved into a contemporary phrase, meaning an extra person, usually unwanted, who serves no useful purpose.

My PSA: The ride may be bumpy, but it’s worth it. We have been programmed for the fairy tale. (Or the “dazzle,” as I like to call it.) In the real world of dating, the third wheel is an untapped social art form.

One of the reasons it works so well is that the couples aren’t just solid men, they’re airy hype men. There is a difference. “My husband and I will go out of our way to try and set up our third-wheel friends, more so than when we were single,” says Avani Sivakumaran, a financial consultant and Los Angeles native who likes to invite her bachelor. friends on their dates. “We’re off the market, which allows us both to have an interest in our friends’ love lives.”

I can attest to this: I’ve had couples ask for their phone number and talk to me like I’m not even there. “Do you know how to run the LA Marathon without training?” a couple once gushed. Or my personal favorite: “You two would have beautiful babies, but no rush, she froze her eggs!” Mortifying, perhaps, but the moral of the story is that the right partner will shamelessly stand up for you in ways you wouldn’t expect. (For those wondering, yes, the guy who heard about my refrigerated eggs at a fertility center in Studio City called the next day.)

And while there’s a lot to be gained as a third-wheel vehicle, couples also find value in having a third wheel to join them. Samantha Snowden, a mindfulness coach in Los Angeles, says that adding a third wheel to dating helps her discover new sides of her partner, while also easing what she describes as “the attention load.”

“Watching my partner as their own person, interacting with our mutual friends, amplifies the banter and keeps things fresh,” says Snowden. “It takes the burden off of having to be the only audience for others. Plus, I’m not forced to laugh at my husband’s dad’s jokes all the time.”

Sivakumaran agrees. “We’re looking for someone who can easily join, if not lead, the conversation,” he says. “My husband and I are naturally introverted, so when our single friends are so open about the ups and downs of dating, we feel like we can be less inhibited, too.”

Ready to start the third wheel? Here are a few tips.

Choose the right pair

Some couples are better equipped to add a third person to the mix than others, so choose your two wheels carefully. First, the couple should enjoy spending time with each other. This may sound obvious, but believe me, I went from third party to couples therapist very quickly.

Also, make sure the couple has been dating for at least three months. Once, a friend who was two weeks into a situation with a fancy PhD candidate texted me, “Want to do a third wheel with me and Dapper Doc?” I drove to the restaurant within a minute (read: half an hour) of LA. But once I sat down, I found out that it was the first time he had met any of his friends. I was nervous, and the night was a bourbon of awkward jokes and too much bourbon.

Neal Hruby, founder of Date the City, loves it when he gets to know the couple well, and explains that the feeling of familiarity and comfort “adds an invaluable dimension.” As a third wheel on dates, she says, “I sit in the middle and keep each of them company during bathroom breaks, bouncing back and forth from boy stuff to bigger, emo stuff. It’s a win-win – win.”

Choose the appropriate date activity

Trina Hendry, who creates day trip itineraries for couples and singles traveling together, says Los Angeles is a great city for a third wheel because there are so many different date ideas that don’t get bogged down in romance “Hooked up or not, people find comfort in exploring new places in a group, and LA has so many relaxed outdoor activities, like hiking at Escondido Falls or Will Rogers State Park, that it’s not a huge commitment with either party,” says Hendry. (I can attest to this: I once met someone while camping as a couple.)

My favorite places in LA for third wheels: lively rooftops with happy hours (Perch, Desert 5 Spot, Elephante), lively bars and restaurants with seating that spills out onto the sidewalk, so there’s a chance you’ll mingle with passers-by. (Capri Club, Idle Hour) and neighborhood venues with offers such as trivia, live music or stand-up comedy (Angel City Brewery, Harvelle’s, Blind Barber).

Think “our date”, not “their date”

Above all, the purchase of the three people is essential, especially you. If you feel self-conscious, the date will be awkward for everyone. “Your mindset is paramount,” says Hruby. “Place it as ‘our’ date, versus ‘their’ date. If you’re confident and open to new experiences, chances are someone with the same attitude will notice.”

If you’re single, it’s easy for punch season and the plethora of year-end gatherings to turn you into a holiday Grinch. But I see this time as a welcome opportunity. (Quarter meetup, for the win!) Wear your wheeled status with pride, join your bestie on a date this season, and leave that chair by your side open to new possibilities. Maybe there’s enough dazzle-dazzle to go around. This is LA, after all.

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