Third wheel woes...
May 26, 2010 7:48 AM   Subscribe

This girl (20's) and myself (guy in my 20's) have been planning this trip for her to come visit me for some time. I go to an east coast graduate school and she goes to my old college in the Midwest. She wants to check out the school for graduate potential and we've been pretty close friends for a few years (we were in the same major, took many classes together, hung out frequently). The plan was for her to come here and sleep at my place.

The date is coming up in a few months and she calls me to ask if she can bring her roommate along as well. Hey that's awesome! but wait...

I really like girl #1 and thought that some time alone with her would be a good gauge to see if I can move the friendship into a relationship.

I told her I had to call her back because I was at work, now I'm wondering if there's anyway that I can tell her that I would rather not have her third wheel friend come along without sounding like a douche.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total)
If she's bringing her friend, it may be to send you the message that she doesn't want this to go beyond the friend zone.

It may also mean that she has not considered moving out of the friend zone.

I'm sure there are other possible interpretations, but if I were her, it would be the former.

Sorry dude.
posted by bilabial at 7:53 AM on May 26, 2010 [11 favorites]

If you would rather her roommate didn't come, you have every right to say that you're not comfortable accommodating an extra person. It's your home. But DON'T do this with the expectation that something may happen between you two if you say her roommate can't come along. The fact that she wants to bring someone else at all seems to indicate that she's not trying to spend a lot of alone time with you (maybe she's aware of your feelings and wants to make sure there are no opportunities for attempts at romance).

On preview, bilabial may be right that she hasn't considered moving out of the friend zone, but if that's true, a visit like this where she's staying with you still may not be the best time to introduce the idea.
posted by spinto at 7:55 AM on May 26, 2010

The date is coming up in a few months and she calls me to ask if she can bring her roommate along as well.

If this were me, in this situation, this would be my less-than-forthright declaration that I do not consider the thing we are doing "a date" or that it is important to me that you not consider it a date. This may not be what she is doing but this is a good opportunity to clear this up with her. I'd try something like "Sure, bring her, but I was hoping this would be a chance for you and I to get to spend some time together one on one" [or something] and then listen closely for her response to that. It could also be depending on her culture that this is not really something that you do [going to a guy's place in another state and staying there] and there's familial or social pressure to bring a friend along. You won't really know what's up unless you find a way to broach the subject. And, also, if she's interested in moving the relationship forward, the presence of her friend will not really thwart that terribly much in my experience.
posted by jessamyn at 7:55 AM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think it would be a mistake. You'll still get to spend time with her, plus you'll have a chance to impress her with the courtesy and friendliness you show to the roommate. Having to share time with someone you're interested in by no means cuts off your opportunity to impress her, make her laugh, reveal attractive parts of your personality.

Asking her to not bring the roommate -- unless there's some compelling logistical problem you haven't described here -- might reveal your agenda in a less-than-flattering way. Good luck, whatever you do!
posted by Philemon at 7:56 AM on May 26, 2010 [12 favorites]

Is it possible that she wants to bring her roommate along for her own comfort? She may suspect your intentions and want someone else with her as a buffer. In any case, if the only reason you'd backpedal is because you want girl #1 all for yourself so you can make your romantic overtures to her, then please, don't do it. If the feelings are returned, it will happen regardless of the third wheel.

If, however, roommate coming along will bring on some other hardship for you, then by all means, turn her away.
posted by litnerd at 7:57 AM on May 26, 2010

oh. Option 3, which I can see happening to me. If you've sent her (unwitting) signals that this visit is all about friendship and collegial bonding, rather than romance potential, she's thinking you don't want a romance, and she's bringing a friend to distract herself.

Or! She's not interested in having naked time at the very begining of a potential romance. Both of you being in your place significantly raises the chances of naked time.

(I might be a little old fashioned, but I wouldn't be having sleepovers with a guy I dug in that way unless it was a large group, sleeping bags on a floor kind of event. That may not be her.)
posted by bilabial at 7:57 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If your plans aren't for a few months, it might be difficult to explain why you can't accommodate her roommate without looking a bit unfriendly. If you flat-out don't have room for another guest, you could try and use that excuse, but be prepared for it backfiring (e.g. both girls deciding to stay at a hotel).

I would guess that the roommate wanted to also check out the school for graduate potential, rather than "Girl #1 doesn't like you."

Closer to the time, you could subtly enquire what the roommate's plans are under the guise of either, "I like you and want to spend time alone," or "I need information to prepare for your visit," (depending on your preferred level of honesty) and see if the roommate is really going to be a contender at all.

And I would also humbly suggest going on some dates in the meantime to distract yourself. You don't want to obsess over the situation for a few months and then find out she has a boyfriend when she arrives.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:09 AM on May 26, 2010

No, you'd definitely look like a douche. :-)

There's no reason things can't happen with her friend around though.
posted by callmejay at 8:09 AM on May 26, 2010

Yeah, either this is a calculated move because she: doesn't fully trust you, expects you to make a move on her given the chance and isn't interested or just not ready to make that decision. I'm sure she's got lots of Big Life Stuff going on right now, don't pressure her more.

Or she's not even considering you as something more than a friend, this is not a calculated move and is happy to have friend along. Asking her to not bring the friend would come off as unreasonable and possibly creepy. It would also declare your interest in her.

Or friend is also being a 3rd wheel, and in which case, I'm sure girl #1 will make the opportunity to have some time alone with you.

You should not interpret her decision to sleep at your place as an interest in you romantically. I'm sure she doesn't exactly have the extra cash for a hotel, and you would be taking advantage of her trust in you by creating an awkward situation. Either way, I really can't see a way for you to refuse to host her friend, ESPECIALLY if you want to have a romantic relationship with her. You would be a douche either way. A Spice Girls song comes to mind. "If you wanna get with me, you gotta get with my friends."

Besides, would you really consider starting a long distance relationship with her even if she didn't move to your town? Ok, then when she moves here you'll have plenty of opportunities to charm her and interact with her more intimately. (Show her around town, point out the grocery store, the cool bars, maybe a housewarming gift, introduce her to friends, etc.)
posted by fontophilic at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you really like her, play the long game.
posted by milarepa at 8:25 AM on May 26, 2010 [15 favorites]

I was talking about this phenomenon with my girlfriend yesterday, I told her when i was dating that some women from time to time would always ask me to hang out with them as well as their friends and she told me that this is a sign that they did not feel comfortable hanging alone with me.......

I usually had no problems with that but since I never performed well on auditions to multiple people I always said "thanks but no thanks and I'll see you another day". Basically I would understand that somewhere along the line they saw me more as friends or did not feel as comfortable with the idea of us alone, which is totally fine as I had other options. If I were on your shoes I would ask myself the following:

1) Is it feasible to accommodate both her and her roommate?
2) In the case that it is feasible would I be comfortable keeping the relationship completely platonic with said friend?
3) Can i still be a good host?

If the answer to the questions above is a clear yes then by all means invite her and her roommate in......who knows maybe you can hit it off, maybe you wont, or maybe you fancy the roommate she brings along, or maybe neither of them will really talk to you as the purpose of the visit is the school and yourself......
posted by The1andonly at 8:27 AM on May 26, 2010

Hmm, I agree that you should take her bringing a friend as a message. If she was eager to make something happen/jump your bones I don't thinks he'd be bringing along her roommate for this trip. Also, not knowing the story between you two besides you were good friends, I think this "I was hoping we could use this trip to get closer" talk should have happened WAY beforehand anyways because it seems a little unfair that you were planning this trip as a means to move the relationship forward without her being in on it.

Sure, she might feel the same too, but you don't know that. Maybe she totally doesn't and all I'm saynig is if I showed up to visit a friend, and they decided they wanted to have "the talk" with me about where our relationship is heading and what his feelings are and I totally was not even thinking about it in that way at all, because, "Omg, dude, what? I was just hoping to chill with friends and check out a school I might go to" ...I'd be contemplating whether or not to stay somewhere else because depending on guy and situation I'd feel bad because either a) I'd feel like I was leading the guy on further or making the situation super weird for him by taking advantage of his hospitality/feelings sleeping under his roof, and/or b) mildy creeped out like "Wait, so was this his plan all along? Get me to his house to try and put some moves on me??".

I'm not saying it's a recipe for absolute disaster or that you were being predatory, I'm just saying, I hope there was some discussion beforehand or some kind of history or something to make this trip for her not suddenly become, "Well, do I now have to look for a hotel to stay in? Because this is kind of...awkward," which is way more douchey of a move to pull than just being up front with her about your feelings and expectations for this trip. At least give her the opportunity to decline or accept your offer of a place to crash knowing what's in it for her.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2010

Oh, also going to add, maybe she's bringing a friend because she's picking up on some vibes from you about you wanting take things to the next level? Either way, if it's meant to be, she'll figure out a way for it to happen, third wheel or no third wheel.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:30 AM on May 26, 2010

Oh, there are a thousand reasons she might be bringing a friend, and there are a hundred different ways the weekend could play out. People are very different from each other, so trying to interpret her intentions and feelings from this one request is like trying to understand the symbolism of a poem from Heian Japan. You could have fun in any case, or not. You can choose to do this because it's a nice thing to do, or not.

If you only want her to come visit because you want some romance, you should gently and sweetly let her know that in advance. That would be an honorable thing to do.

Playing these guessing games is only fun if you both enjoy a little drama. Do you know her well enough to know that?
posted by amtho at 8:42 AM on May 26, 2010

I would say I'm not comfortable with letting someone stay with me whom I haven't spoken too or met and don't know if I'd like. Then I would the roommate what her plans are when she comes to town, if she was invited or invited herself and legitimately if you want her in your house.

.... And then if I liked her I would try and talk to her instead.
posted by Rubbstone at 8:50 AM on May 26, 2010

I think milarepa has it. If you like her and are looking at her as relationship material then hang out with her and her roommate. If you are not in it for the short-term then you can still find ways to see if she would be good girlfriend potential while still having fun and hanging out with her and her roommate. If there is chemistry between you, then it will show regardless of who is around. If there is not, then, well, there is not.
posted by occidental at 8:50 AM on May 26, 2010

Will her friend be moving to your city as well? If not, deal with the friend (hey, you might make a new friend out of the situation!) and hope your friend likes the visit so much she ends up coming out for good. Then enact your cunning plan.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:57 AM on May 26, 2010

There are two things I see in this:

- She's definitely not thinking about it as a romantic visit; she wouldn't invite a friend if she was hoping that something might happen while she's there. That doesn't necessarily mean that she's either for/against anything romantic happening, but it's not what she expects.

My advice? You can become boyfriend material by making sure they have an awesome trip by being an awesome guy. Do these things before they get there:

- prepare some clean towels for showering and linens/bedding and an alarm clock, and tidy your place in general;
- buy an extra toothbrush in case someone forgets;
- have a camera ready for "trip memories" and email them some on their way home;
- have breakfast foods they like handy, and maybe even plan to cook them dinner one night;
- get a map of the city and have ideas for interesting things to do and places to eat if they're interested;
- if there's something you know your friend really enjoys (a game, a sport, etc.) you can bring it up as something to do because you remember that about her;
- be really adamant about them being comfortable in your home; don't make any overarching romantic gestures that will leave one or both girls uncomfortable at any point;

At the end of the trip, if you're really hip to the idea of making a move, maybe ask the roommate if you can get a couple minutes alone; tell her you were hoping she had a great trip, that you wanted to show her that you care and that she should think about whether or not there's anything more than friendship there. That way, you make your move, and if it does/doesn't work out, the awkward time is minimal and they still have an AWESOME trip! Good luck!
posted by Hiker at 9:24 AM on May 26, 2010 [19 favorites]

Hiker has got it right.

The only thing you can do here if you're interested in this lady is to show her a great time and, if you decide during her visit that you really do have feelings for her and think that she might have them for you, wait until the end of her trip to let her know.

The absolute worst thing you could do is really flirt with her during her trip, become a drag on her experience, and possibly endanger your friendship. What you're interested in can be done, but only if you play your cards just right.

Good luck!
posted by elder18 at 10:04 AM on May 26, 2010

Even if she weren't bringing her roommate, you really shouldn't be the one to make a move. If anything romantic is going to happen under these circumstances, you have to let her set the pace. I can imagine very few more uncomfortable situations than staying with the only person you know in a strange city far from home and having him hit on you. And "uncomfortable" is a best-case scenario. If you truly could not be satisfied with this being simply a nice visit from a good friend, then I think you should ask them both to stay in a hotel.
posted by granted at 10:45 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I really like girl #1 and thought that some time alone with her would be a good gauge to see if I can move the friendship into a relationship.

You're fooling yourself.
posted by the foreground at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Who knows, maybe you'll be into the roomate! If not, and you want to make a move, you should have a wingman on call.
posted by nomad at 11:26 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

The friend is either a message nothing is going to happen or a way of feeling safe. You may as well let the friend come along and see what happens. I wouldn't bet on anything happening though... You're best bet is to be extremely cool to the friend, who may then give you the thumb's up. Bummer.
posted by xammerboy at 11:49 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's hard to answer this without more information; when you say you hung out frequently, how frequently? Was it alone or with other people or both? And how long ago was it? Basically, how certain are you that your definition of "pretty close friends" overlaps much with hers?

More importantly, has she ever said or done anything which made you think she feels the same way about getting together that you do? Here I must say that anything is possible, of course, but if after a few years you're not sure how to answer that, then the answer is probably no.

Like I said, damn near anything is possible, but if I were called upon to make a bet, I would say that the friend coming with her is a clear sign that she's not thinking of this visit, or the relationship between the two of you, the way you're thinking of it, and that not much good would come from bringing it up before or during the visit. After, maybe, or at the very end, but if I were you I wouldn't get my hopes up.

But that's only based on the information given, and for all I know there is more to the story. So I will answer the question as written.

The sentiment is, "You said you plan to bring a friend with you, but I don't want you to bring a friend [because I'd like to make time with you]." You asked if there is a non-douchey way to express the part outside the brackets.

The answer, regardless of surrounding circumstances, is that you can say it without sounding like a douche, or you can say it without lying, but you will not be able to do both.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:04 PM on May 26, 2010

I can imagine very few more uncomfortable situations than staying with the only person you know in a strange city far from home and having him hit on you. And "uncomfortable" is a best-case scenario.

This times about a million.

Just because you decided it would be a good time to make your move doesn't mean she'll be open to the idea or even willing to consider it. If you really want to pursue a relationship with this woman, be a good host to her and her friend and see how the weekend plays out. If she's interested in you, you'll be able to tell, friend or no friend.
posted by janekate at 1:48 PM on May 26, 2010

Cool guy: "Sure bring your friend! Sounds fun!" (Then show them both such a good time that the friend is raving about you to Girl #1 for weeks afterwards.)

Icky guy: "No, don't bring your friend. I really want to spend some alone time with you."

You've got a rare opportunity here, don't blow it.
posted by Knowyournuts at 5:08 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe the friend she wants to bring is an attempt at match-making, because either she doesn't think you like her, or she likes you, but "not that way", and thinks the friend is a good match.

Be nice, play host, do it well. Don't drool on your shirt, and keep the seat down. Maybe they will condescend to notice you are an available male with good habits.
posted by Goofyy at 5:54 AM on May 27, 2010

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