There are certain situations in life that you just can't avoid. You will have to pay taxes. You will get super fat after college. You will be a third wheel. It's uncomfortable, but that's just because you suck at being a third wheel. Here are tips to up your being-part-of-somebody-else's-relationship game.
Let the other two wheels roll to you
There's nothing wrong with being a third wheel. Couples like hanging out with people who aren't them just as much as you like hanging out with people who aren't your Xbox. Just make sure the time's right by waiting for them to invite you to hang out. Going to a movie, a game or a concert can be a great night -- but inviting yourself to their anniversary dinner might be a little tricky.
Don't make them feel awkward
Even when you've been invited out, understand that they're still on a date and there's many, many ways you could f--k it up. If they've been on the rocks, don't mention their arguments. If your friend has confided in you, don't bring the secret up -- or even allude to it with a smirk. If they're snuggling romantically, maybe don't tell that story about how you got diarrhea on the elliptical.
This is the best way to ensure that you don't get "forgotten" next time they're having a pool party. Also, probably don't tell anybody that elliptical story -- might be why you're single.
Don't ignore one of them
Sure, you're naturally inclined to pay more attention to the friend you've known since high school than the latest girl he's dating -- but make sure to include her in your conversations and don't dominate it with your usual dude-ing around. This isn't guys' night out, OK? She probably doesn't want to hear about the girl you hooked up with at the bar last night, so maybe save that for later.
Not only will it ensure you'll stay in her good graces -- and green-lit for future hangs -- but you won't be a total a-hole, which is a plus.
Don't try to mediate a fight
Hanging out with a happy couple is awesome, and can restore your faith in love and humanity and all that junk. Sitting in silence with a couple that just needs somebody else there so they don't kill each other...not so much. Take a second to analyze the situation you're getting into, and maybe you won't spend the whole night explaining to Karen what you think Jeff meant when he said the waitress "seemed nice."
Don't turn them into your wingmen
Couples like other couples, so your friends certainly love the idea of you meeting somebody. What they don't love is having to spend four hours with you and somebody you just met, doing shots and becoming your two-headed wingman.
Nobody's saying you can't have a good time -- watching you do a little flirting can be fun -- but turning the night into a game of "Let's Get Me Laid!" isn't fun for anybody. Except you if you get laid, of course, but we all know that's probably not happening anyway.