Thoughts On Being A Third-Wheel

Today, as I sat in the backseat of my best friend’s car, pretending to be scrolling mindlessly through my phone, I was, in reality, painfully aware of the sounds of smooching and smacking lips up front, where my friend and her boyfriend were having a passionate make-out session. Yeah, awkward, I know. And also strangely ironic.

You see, these two lovebirds had crushes on each other for the longest time, but were too afraid to ask out the other. Thanks to the mad match-making skills of yours truly, my two friends are now “in love”.

And then there’s me. As single as ever. Never even dated a guy, let alone kiss one. So it’s funny that I am able to bring requited love out of the shadows, but have yet to experience romance for myself.

Sitting in that back seat today, a clumsy third-wheel that shouldn’t have been there, I felt a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, watching my friends be happy with each other was gratifying, as I knew that if it weren’t for me, the two would still be living in agonizing uncertainty over the others’ feelings. Beyond the happiness I felt was a dull, aching pang of desire and longing to have someone want me back, the way my two friends wanted each other.

When I reflect on my utter lack of romantic involvement, my first thought is, “That is so pathetic, Belicia. You’re eighteen, and you haven’t done ANYTHING.” Shame and insecurity set it. Is there something physically the matter with me? Is it my intense personality that turns men off? Why is it that I must ask the guy to prom, and not the other way around?

Then, to make myself feel better, I justify my alienation from the world of intimacy to the demanding nature of my academic and extracurricular involvements. I’m too busy to date. I don’t need a boyfriend- I have gymnastics. I have dance. I have to focus because I want to become a great doctor. And so I keep telling myself…

It may also be family dynamic that’s hindered me from actively seeking out romantic relations. My mom is your typical Asian tiger mom who sees dating as a complete distraction to studies. She’d used to say to me and my brothers, “No dating until you are twenty-five.” She was, of course, joking. But for the longest time, I truly believed she was serious, and was ready to obey.

My friends often make fun of my complete naivety when it comes to sexuality. Sophomore year of high school, when a friend observed that the rash on my neck resembled a “hickey”, I had no idea what she was talking about- I’d never heard the word “hickey” in my life! I am still slow to grasp sexual undertones and innuendos amidst conversation. While I take pride in my purity, I also feel as if I’ve been living under a rock when it comes to anything related to romance.

Today, when I experienced the feeling of wanting to be wanted by another, I gave myself a pep talk- a pep talk I will now share with all my single friends. It is okay not to be with someone. Being single doesn’t make you any less worthy, competent, or beautiful than the next person. Know that there is always room for self-improvement, even without a significant other by your side. When you feel ready, of course, go out and actively seek a partner who will enliven your life journey. Personally, though, I feel that the priority of youth should be spiritual, mental, and emotional enrichment. Not seeking unfulfilling relationships or hook-ups, just because all your friends are doing it. So, if you are single like me, don’t fret. Be proud! Like with anyone, your time will come. And when it does, it will be all the more amazing, because your love will not be a means to fill a void. It will be real.


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