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I always feel like the third wheel, and wonder if I should give up trying.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Friends, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (9 March 2018) 5 Answers - (Newest, 11 March 2018)
A female Australia age 41-50, anonymous writes:

What can you do when you are the “3rd wheel” in a conversation? 2 people are talking and leaving you out? and yes you’ve tried to talk.

You’ve genuinely listened and tried to be interested, and you are! But they’ve been cliquey and left you cold.

Do you keep trying and risk looking needy or awkward or worse desperate?

Or just leave it?

Or not and smile?

General question

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (11 March 2018):

How are these people related to you? Friends, co-workers, or family? How frequently does this occur?

It's very important that you have reasonable knowledge of the topic of conversation. If it's about something they saw or did, and you weren't there; there's probably not much you can add to the conversation. Simply listen. When they're done, start a new conversation.

If you're always on the tail-end of a conversation; that's usually where people leave you. I have friends who often show-up late, and we're already in the middle of an interesting conversation. They have to wait their turn to interject. It's usually polite to wait for an opening to speak. Once a convo has momentum, it's like jump-rope; you have to time yourself and just jump-in!

Being over-polite or timid will sometimes make you invisible in a modern-society that's generally lacking in manners.

With family, you simply ask them why are they so rudely leaving you out of the conversation? It's usually because you're the youngest, and it has always been that way!

With co-workers, it's apparently an A and B conversation; and you should see your way out. As you butt-out, simply let them know you did attempt to get a word in edge-wise. You do have to let them know they rudely left you out of the conversation, and you had something to say. Provided you weren't rudely interrupting; because you simply eavesdropped and decided to add your two-cents.

Friends who repeatedly and habitually leave you out of the conversation aren't really friends.

You may only be included; because you provide the transportation, pay for the drinks; or you don't drink, and you're the designated-driver. They may only include you in-case they get sauced. Make sure you're not just included because you have a use. The dynamic of the relationship says it all.

You have to be more assertive and get their attention in any-case. You repeatedly say "excuse me" until they stop to listen. Pause, and look at the two of them in silence. Once you have their attention, say what it is you have to say. Do this as often as necessary. That's using behavior-modification.

If you have a speech-impediment or stutter, people sometimes avoid letting you in. You have to use assertiveness in this case to get beyond their rudeness and insensitivity. One of my younger sisters had this problem a long time ago; she had some speech-therapy, and gained more confidence. Today, there is no evidence of the impediment.

If you aren't knowledgeable on the topic at-hand, listen in silence. It's best not to make a fool of yourself, if you don't really know what you're talking about. Sometimes that's the reason you aren't allowed to contribute.

If you're trying to squeeze yourself into a snobby-clique; don't bother. They are purposely leaving you out of the conversation. It's beneath your dignity to continuously allow people to be blatantly rude to you.

Why bother trying to wiggle yourself into the middle of a conversation, if they obviously don't care to hear what you have to say?

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia + , writes (11 March 2018):

Aunty BimBim agony auntIt really depends on the situation ....

if you were part of a trio of old friends getting together "to catch up" then you could try some star jumps to remind them there are three of you involved. Or wave in their faces, "hello hello, is there room here for me or should I come back later"

In larger, more formal, gatherings this approach will possibly do more harm that good, so yeah, accept your invisibility and wander off to see if there is another group who might like your input or see if there is somebody a bit on the edges who will appreciate somebody to talk to.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (10 March 2018):

Honeypie agony auntIt depends,

If these two people seem to have a private conversation I would not try and butt in, or stand around and listen.

If they are "cliquey" I'd probably just be nice around them but not make an effort to be interested or join in. Why bother? Not with people like that. But then again I'm too old to participate in that kind of HS drama attitudes.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (10 March 2018):

If someone does that more than once, they feel you're intruding. Try talking to people who are alone so they have no excuse to rebuff you. If they look like they're trying to escape leave them alone

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (10 March 2018):

My first response would be to withdraw calmly. This kind of behaviour is usually just rude. But a lot depends on the context and relationship history. Can you say more about the background to this?

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