I booked a trip away with my two friends, but just found out they’ve hidden their relationship from me. Do I still go (and third wheel)?

Dear Evie,

I’ve been in a little group of 3 friends (myself included) for the past two years. We’re all very close together and have been for a long time. We decided to book a trip nearly 6 months in advance which is now coming up in a few weeks. However, last week, one of them texted me to say that she and my other friend have been seeing each other for a few months. This does come as a pretty big surprise (they’ve been hiding it like crazy whenever we hung out so I suspected nothing!). She also broke up with her boyfriend not too long ago, and I suspect there is something of an overlap between the two relationships.
I’m torn between still going on the trip, but I now feel quite uncomfortable as although I’m pro them being together, I feel quite lied to and I’m also worried that as they’re in such early stages of dating, I will feel like an awkward third wheel the entire time. At the same time, I’m worried that if I cancel, they’ll make it out like I’m not encouraging enough or that I’m jealous or something else. The tickets are also non refundable so I’ll be taking a big hit if I don’t go. Advice please!

Hi there,

Thank you for sending this in! I do think the statement, ‘two’s a company, three’s a crowd’ is quite apt and accurate for your situation. All those feelings of surprise, discomfort, and apprehension about feeling like a third wheel are entirely valid and understandable. I would personally also feel quite uncomfortable and like I’d been lied to, had two of my friends stormed ahead with booking trips abroad, all while concealing the fact that they were secretly starting up their own relationship.

It’s okay to feel a bit betrayed or sidelined – these are natural reactions to the situation you’ve been thrust into. At the same time, any form of friendship or relationship can undergo evolution and change. It sounds to me like the introduction of a romantic element between your two friends does indeed change the dynamic, but it’s not necessarily overshadowing the bond you all share (at least in your eyes).

You have a handful of options, but whichever you choose, I’d start out with an open and honest conversation with the two of them. Express the fact that you hold nothing against their newfound love, but being kept in the dark whilst you all liaise over plans has not sat too well. They might also have valid reasons for keeping their relationship with you, so allow them an opportunity to share these reasons. Equally, don’t hold off communicating the fact that being encouraged to book and plan a trip away with two people who have now coupled up in secret is deceptive, and has left you in a tricky position. If you’re confident you wouldn’t have agreed to go away with the two of them, knowing they were a couple, tell them this.

As opposed to just agreeing to follow through with the holiday, and finding yourself left out and uncomfortable (of which there is a high chance – I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in the honeymoon stage of their relationship!), communicating these emotions beforehand and allowing the two of them to offer up their own suggestions places you all in the best position when it comes to preserving your relationship and finding the best outcome for everyone. From there on, considering the tickets are non-refundable, you might suggest that they buy you out (which I believe is fully warranted, but to which they might not agree). You might agree to go, but set certain boundaries, such as getting your own room (if you are sharing) or allocating some solo time.

There might be financial implications if they are unwilling to cover your prepaid expenses, but your peace of mind is invaluable. If they are truly your friends, they will understand your stance. This situation certainly doesn’t have to drive a wedge between your friendships, but it is an opportunity to set boundaries, to assess how they navigate this obstacle, and (hopefully) see a little more of their true colors.

No matter the outcome, you’re deserving of friendships that make you feel included, respected, and valued.

Warmly,

Evie

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Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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