- When my best friend invited me to Colombia with her and her boyfriend, I jumped at the chance.
- I don’t mind being a third wheel — you get the companionship while still getting to be single.
- We loved our summer together in Medellín, and now, we’re headed to Buenos Aires in the fall.
I have always dreamed about traveling the world with the love of my life. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet appeared, so now I’m doing it with my best friend, Camila.
OK, to be honest, she had been living her best Julia Roberts “Eat, Pray, Love,” expat-style life in Medellín, Colombia, for four months already with her boyfriend, Tyler. But when she suggested I join them in July for the remainder of the summer, I pounced at the opportunity.
At the time, I had also been living abroad, hopping around in different countries, but making the journey solo. God knows how many foreign meals I’d experienced silent in a crowded room, staring into the abyss — the invitation came at just the right time. I’ve known Camila since the sixth grade when we were sat next to each other, and our friendship was brought full circle when I booked a monthly Airbnb in the building right next to hers.
“You’re following Camila and her boyfriend to Colombia?” Monica, my other best friend, asked. “She invited me!” I said.
Spending extended bouts of time with my friends and their romantic partners wasn’t new territory for me. In fact, in May 2021, I moved in with Monica and her girlfriend for a month in their guestroom in Miami because I needed a change of scenery. Running away with close pals and their significant others wasn’t something you needed to convince me to do; I wasn’t about to stop making memories with people because they already had a plus-one.
I never felt like a third wheel — just another part of their family
Within my first few days in Medellín, Camila invited me over for lunch. She sat next to Tyler, both of them across the table from me. Their housekeeper made us salmon, rice, and veggies, one of my favorite dishes. Camila expressed frustration with something Tyler had tweeted earlier that week. He had thanked his circle of day traders for getting him through the worst professional week of his life, and she felt the emotional support she gave him went unacknowledged.
I pointed to the fact Tyler regularly shows his appreciation in real life. “I guess,” she said, smiling. The conflict was diffused, and the three of us continued chatting happily.
Though popular depictions of being a third often have us think it would make a person’s singlehood feel particularly sharp or lonely, I’ve never felt this way, nor have I ever felt uncomfortable. Instead, I felt like I was a part of their small family.
The following weekend, Camila and Tyler invited me to wakeboard in Guatapé, an Andean resort town, with friends they had met. I got carsick on the road trip, so Camila asked her friend in the copilot’s seat to switch with me, which lessened my nausea. On the way back, we stopped for dinner. I offered to pay the bill to thank everyone for a wonderful day before realizing it was cash only, and I had none on me. Tyler discreetly handed me the total amount in pesos and saved me from embarrassment.
They didn’t seem to help me out of obligation but showed the same willingness I’d expect from a partner. I had never been around people so intuitive to my needs; that is, at least without the unspoken promise of physical intimacy later. The three of us living so far from home together made us more dependent on each other for companionship, making us rely on each other and build on the trust we already had.
On another night, they insisted I try the Peruvian food at Chïclayö Cocina Peruana in the neighborhood of Envigado. While we shared an Uber to the restaurant, they conversed in the back seat and I sat in the front. I couldn’t help but wonder: Am I clinging too much to Camila’s relationship? Camila sat next to me at dinner, with Tyler across from us. They took bites off each other’s plates and then mine. I tried to tell them my fries were soggy, but Tyler assured me they’re best when they’re like that.
They continued inviting me to outings, and out of anxiety and insecurity I found myself asking Camila, “Are you sure?” each time she invited me to tag along. She’d assure me that she and Tyler both wanted me there; eventually, I believed her.
I formed deeper bonds with Tyler, too, and the three of us decided to continue traveling together
At the beginning of August, Tyler’s grandmother died. By coincidence, my own Abuela was getting surgery for thyroid cancer the following week. The night before my Abuela’s operation, I was at their apartment, and Camila fell asleep on the sofa. In the spur of the moment, most likely due to alcohol, I divulged all my worst fears to Tyler about what might happen to her.
I had never expressed any of this to Camila, but he understood my pain. He packed a bowl of weed for me, and I appreciated that offering more than any verbal sentiment. Showing vulnerability is hard for me; I avoid crying on anyone’s shoulder, and he kept my secret. At that moment, he became “my bro,” if you will.
The next day, as we hiked the stairs up Cerro Pan De Azúcar, a beautiful peak in the mountains of Uruguay, they asked me if I wanted to come with them to Buenos Aires for the upcoming month of September. It was fast approaching, and I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted to stay in Colombia any longer. I told them that I’d meet them there starting in October, and they agreed to stick around so we could make more memories in a new locale together.
That week I had eaten dinner alone at a restaurant called Carmen, sitting at the bar to order a drink from a bartender I thought was cute. I didn’t choose to remain in Medellín precisely for him, but our flirtatious banter made me realize I hadn’t engaged with the best part of Colombia — its locals. All my adventures as part of a trio made me forget about the advantages of traveling single.
And isn’t that the glory of third-wheeling? You get all the perks of being surrounded by love while still being able to chase it at any moment.