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Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.
My best friend *Natalie, 25 and I have known each other since 2018. While it might not seem like a long time, any millennial can attest to how difficult making friends in their 20s is, so; it’s a miracle in itself that Natalie and I were able to connect and maintain a friendship that’s as tight as ours.
Natalie started as my work wife when we both took jobs at a startup in Singapore. Our conversations initially revolved around work, but we pivoted to personal topics like our dating lives, family, and more as we grew closer. Eventually, Natalie became my go-to for just about anything.
Drinks on payday? She was almost always down.
A breakup? She’d come by with food, drinks, and anything I needed.
Was I going on a date with someone new? She’d be the person I sent my live location to until the date ended.
At this point, I’m pretty sure she’d be the person bailing me out of jail if I somehow get myself in that situation.
They say the friends you make in your 20s are the ones you keep for life, and with Natalie, I can see why.
So it made perfect sense that she was would meet *Mark, 30, the guy I’m currently dating. Not only did I want Natalie’s opinion on Mark, I thought it was natural for Mark to meet the person who, but most of the embarrassing stories I’ve told have also involved.
I was a little apprehensive about introducing them to each other — mainly because Mark and I are not officially partners — but the two hit it off relatively quickly when we met for beers.
Soon, Natalie was coming over to Mark’s to watch the Formula One race with us on weekends. At one point, Mark even gave her pointers on revamping her Tinder profile to get better matches on the app. I thought it was lovely and hilarious how the two of them got along well. Sometimes, they even gang up to poke fun at me.
“Aren’t you just a tad bit jealous of their friendship? Don’t you feel like a third wheel in your relationship with him?” asked my friend *Mandy, 28. Ever the skeptic, my protective friend Mandy would often ask difficult questions out of concern.
This got me thinking about all the times I’ve ever met the partners of my closest friends and what my friends thought of my interactions with their partners. As far as I could remember, I would always try to include their partners in conversations and try to get to know them, so they felt welcomed.
As an introverted extrovert, I know how daunting meeting new people can be and if my greatest friends were choosing to be with someone, I’m always going to make an effort to get to know them as well.
While I can completely understand why Mandy would think I’d be threatened — Natalie is, without a doubt, an absolute catch — I was also comfortable enough with myself not to feel threatened by someone else.
“What if they start having conversations without you? What if they follow each other on Instagram and start talking there?” asked Mandy when I told her things were fine. To be fair, her questions were valid, and I knew exactly what she was getting at.
A few years ago, I was in a long-term relationship that eventually ended when my partner developed feelings for someone else right under my nose. To say I was devastated was an understatement, and Mandy was there to watch me unravel. When you’ve been cheated on, I read once that it’s likely you’ll develop trust and self-esteem issues.
Thankfully, that didn’t really happen to me. While the cheating hurt, I eventually learned that you couldn’t control what other people choose to do, and the more you think about the possibility of someone cheating you, the more it detracts from the whole purpose of the relationship. Plus, it wasn’t like Mark, and I were serious enough for anything to be considered cheating.
Back to the situation, introducing Mark to my friends was my way of being more inclusive of him in my life.
In my mind, the fact that Mark and Natalie were both willing to meet each other was because they both cared for me and wanted to meet the people who were important to me. Natalie meeting Mark was no different to her meeting my sister and my nephew and having dinner with us on occasions.
Ultimately, I knew it was a good thing Natalie likes and approves of Mark, and it was even better that they both got along.
As for the question about whether I felt like a third wheel? I often jokingly think Mark is the third wheel in my relationship with Natalie instead.
Balancing the New Normal: