The effect of a third person in a relationship


By Crystal    20-Sep-2012 20:32 UTC+02:00

The age old question plaguing the human race with its consistency to elude us with an answer, Can Men and Women just be Friends?  Now people with a more conventional mindset believe that that is impossible, even inappropriate, but in the fast paced anything-goes twenty first century there are some of us that seem to think that this is possible.

From a female perspective, if you’re with your guy and suddenly there’s a new friend, a female friend added to the equation the sum becomes a little more difficult than you first anticipated. If we were to try and justify ending this friendship we could say this person was not a main character at first and only joined the cast after the pilot, it in a way entitles you to have some control over her role and how things are going to pan out. You may have a right to decide whether you are going to keep her on, as an extra, because your relationship began before either of you knew she existed, or you have the option of having her exit stage left.

But what happens when your partner had already been close friends with the opposite sex long before you met him? Do you have a say then of what becomes of her? In Lala Land perhaps, but realistically, it would probably cause more problems than you could afford. Relationships are hard enough to make work when it’s just two of you, so when a third person gets involved the dynamic of the relationship is shifted and seeds of tension, frustration and jealousy are promptly planted.

And here’s how it happens, One: the closeness between your man and his girl friend are on a physical level, they’re constantly hugging, touching each other’s arms, even playfully wrestle with one another from time to time, tension grows. Two: And everywhere your man went, girl friend is sure to go. No dates on your own, hardly any private time to yourselves, even going to the movies is something you can’t do without her, it seems she is always around, frustration grows. And finally, the worst of all, your boyfriend who you share everything with regards her opinion more so than your own and JEALOUSY grows and rears its ugly bulb.

So, what do you do? These are touchy circumstances, it’s a subject nobody can objectively solve, but can only draw from personal experience in order to advise or shed some light. As I am not an expert on the topic myself I had to go out and ask a few people about their own experiences.

A friend of mine Clara* says she had been in a relationship where there’d been a third person, who just happened to be her female friend but had gotten too close to her boyfriend to an extent that it greatly bothered her, Clara’s friend would constantly find ways and reasons to be with her boyfriend and, “in the end it killed both relationship and friendship”,leading Clara to learn her lesson the hard way, Boundaries.

With any relationship there are boundaries, and regardless of the length of time your man or woman has been with the opposite sex third person, if your partner respects you, he or she would not want to make you feel insecure or doubtful of their love. I mean, right? How blissfully simple that sounds though. “She was always so important to him… all I could think was, but I’m your girlfriend”, says a woman, who explained that heartbreak and pain are the only things waiting at the end of a three-way relationship.

So it would seem that you would either have to lay down the rules, yes unfortunate as it is there are also, always, rules or hit the road and run as far as you can from what will inevitably end in tears, because let’s face it, there is no right way to tell your partner he or she has to stop being friends with somebody they met before you came around.

The third person relationship is in my opinion, a three part perspective:

  • the girlfriend whose boyfriend has a close woman friend
  • the boyfriend whose girlfriend has a close man friend
  • the single friend who is labelled the third wheel

The girlfriend whose boyfriend has a close woman friend is probably the worst of the three because of the tumultuous emotions going through the said girlfriend. We spoke of jealousy, frustration, tensions. But there’s also the fact that no respectful woman would want to control a man’s life to an extent that she is choosing his friends. It’s not as if a woman wants her boyfriend to be unhappy, that in turn would make her unhappy if she loved him. So, the conflicted feelings and the general confusion of it all ends up spinning her till she cannot see straight and in her dizzy state ends up either pushing him away or forcing him to change who he is.

The boyfriend whose girlfriend has a close man friend is just as bad in terms of feels that are getting hurt, but men, most of the time, are more confident and sure of themselves than women so it is not always a feeling of actual threat to their relationship but more of a possessive, “that’s mine” type of situation. Although I cannot vouch for every man in the world, for those I do know have made it perfectly clear that they would never place themselves in a situation where they felt insecure or vulnerable and would rather bow out  if they sensed the prospect of a “third person relationship”.

The single friend who is labelled the third wheel is not exactly the greatest seat in the theatre. Whether you are innocent or not you will always be thought of as a hazard. Which can be unfair to those with the purest intentions because all it really is to you is a platonic friendship, in which case you end up either subjecting your friend to endless break-ups or you’re painfully left behind, being cast even further back to the nosebleed section.

The entire idea of the third person relationship is a grey area. It cannot be explained in a way that makes you go, “oh well, that’s a solution, let’s do that and everybody’s happy.” It’s messy and confusing and maddening. It tests the strengths of you as a person and it tests your partnership as a couple and nothing in the world can stop you from constantly assuming the worst, will he fall in love with her? Will she start to find him more satisfactory? Will he always keep me at bay because he already has somebody in his life that he feels comfortable sharing his secrets with? All you can do is trust, and if not even that, then at least hope. Hope and pray the answer is no. If this causes tension in your relationship, it may help to attend couples therapy, where both of you can open up about your concerns and receive professional counseling together.


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  1. sodiqah says:

    Beautiful! <3 so true

  2. Kimberly says:

    True, and beautifully written.

  3. absolutely YES says:

    Absolutely Yes !!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you!!!

  5. anon says:

    this is an amazingly written piece. hope to hear more from this writer.

  6. Candice says:

    Enjoyed this article – a very interesting read.

  7. Michele says:

    Im in this situation right now n it really sucks. Then I realize w my bf if its not her its always somebody. Its almost as if there always has to be someone. Guess getting to close to someone intimidates him. whatever the case may be Im done playing this game and am seeking someone who can be honest w me n w themself

  8. r says:

    I’m in this situation where my boyfriend(we’ve been together for four years) has a so called best friend for the past 6 months. And i’ve never really bothered about her since i’ve never had any doubt that he loves me. But there were these recent photos he sent me where you can see they clearly have chemistry(not just my opinion ,his friends told him too) and they have no physical boundaries. We’ve had so many fights because of it but he still won’t stop going out with her. I don’t know what to think

  9. Azola gungxwana says:

    Me i have this problem of having third person in relationship i love this man and im pregnant for him what i suppose to do plz help me guyz

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