Tonight, I had dinner with a friend and his ex, as the perennial 3rd wheel. On the way home, I was complimented on my abilities as a "buffer." All I can say is that practice makes perfect. I've been third wheel all my life.
Third wheeling is bad enough, but it's 5th wheeling that's the worst. The two couples couple up and you're left to fend for yourself. Occasionally one of the mates will toss you a bone.
But not often.
Third wheeling can be just as bad, or sometimes not so bad. At its best it's illumiating. It feels like I'm in a Desmond Morris documentary sometimes, viewing the secret mating habit of higher primates.
It was a nice enough meal. The ex seemed much more low key than I had been lead to believe. I had never met him before, but I had heard a lot about him....all bad of course.
I notice that people have a tendency to exaggerate the traits of exes, to me...to others...but more likely to themselves too. That's probably part of why they are now exes.
Of course, he (the ex) was, as I had been lead to expect, "domineering" and very (my friend's words here) "alpha male," but not nearly as dramatically as I had been lead to expect. Yes, he seemed a bit extroverted to my tastes, but nice just the same.
On the way home, my friend, however, picked apart every last phrase the ex had said, point by point, to show me the subtle domineering and patronization that I might have missed.
I hadn't been paying attention to the subtleties of the conversation, but he had. He had reason to. I didn't. He was right of course, but it had all passed over my head. I guess it's impossible to keep such clueless objectivity in a relationship, but I wonder if it wouldn't help sometimes, you know?