• Keeping Friends

The tag-along friend

Published: June 29, 2013 | Last Updated: June 29, 2013 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
If you start to feel like a tag-along friend, you may want to cut your losses.


Hi Irene,

I made friends with a neighbor about two years ago. We sometimes go swimming and and walking, but it is only a once or twice a week friendship, I always feel I am more of an acquaintance than her friend.

Recently she invited another neighbor along on the walks, which I did not mind, but I seem to have become the “third friend” now— like they chat a lot and I am left out, and sometimes they make funny remarks to me, that are a bit unkind, like “Let’s leave her in the car and go for a walk around the park without her,” or they tease that I am bigheaded (because I said I had done so many lengths at the swimming baths), or things like that.

So now I feel left out. I can’t get a word in as they chat together; I am just the third person. The original neighbor said I can “tag along” which really upset me, so now I have stopped going on the walks. She has also started copying my clothes and shoes that I bought and wearing them the same time as I do.

I am really fed up now and although I am still friendly towards her, I don’t feel very happy about the friendship. What am I doing wrong? I have had this problem of being a tag-along friend before, being invited as one of three, and always becoming the one left out. But with this person we were friends first before she invited the extra neighbor along.

I look forward to hearing from you, with any ideas, help, so I don’t always end up like this.

Signed, Cindy


Dear Cindy,

No one likes to feel like a tag-along friend. I doubt you did anything that would merit these women treating you this way. However, your note suggests that while your neighbor was a convenient walking partner, you never really bonded with her like true friends even before the third person came along. When she did, perhaps the other two women simply had more in common or better chemistry between them.

It has to feel unpleasant and demeaning to be treated like a third wheel or tag-along. Given what has happened, I would suggest that you find someone else to walk with and decline invitations to continue getting together as a threesome. If one or both of the other women miss you, they will encourage you to join them and, hopefully, be more sensitive about making you feel included. If they don’t, they probably prefer to be without you.

If I am underestimating your feelings for your neighbor—and this friendship is important to you—you could speak to her alone and let her know how you feel.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about  friendship threesomes:  


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Category: Dealing with threesomes and groups of friends

Comments (8)

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  1. SusanB says:

    In my experience the dynamic of three women in a group rarely works. I have noticed this throughout my life. It is often very true that two of the women in a group of three will be closer, will sometimes even inadvertently flaunt this intimacy, thus the other woman (usually me, it seems) feels left out. For this reason I feel more comfortable keeping friends separate as I have also had the experience of introducing two friends who then become closer together, leaving me feel left out. I also have noticed that as I’ve gotten older I simply avoid super tight, BFF relationships for this reason. When another woman is brought into the mix it can be dicey.

  2. Denise says:

    Yes, it sounds like the other two may just be a better match. BUT, “Let’s leave her in the car and go without her….” I’ve heard similar comments from other experiences and I call it passive aggressive. It’s also juvenile. They pretend it’s a joke, wait for a negative reaction, then say, “We’re joking; don’t be so sensitive.” As for copying your clothes, it is said imitation is the highest form of flattery so it’s strange she’d leave you out of things then copy you. Sounds like they want to keep to themselves and I’d drop them if I were you. Find someone who is kind and wants to include you and if something’s wrong will honestly and nicely tell you. In the meantime, keep busy with other interests and enjoy your own company until a good person comes along.

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks Denise for your helpful comments. Yes they do say that they are joking and then call you sensitive, but they wouldn’t like it , if it was said to them.

      I have dropped out of the walks now, and I am keeping my distance! Yes that is true a good friend would point out in a nice way if you are putting your foot in it, but most the time I was so left out of the conversation I didn’t say much at all.

  3. Marisa says:

    You sound like a good person. Move on them these two. Be polite and distant. Good luck. Let’s leave her in the car was very rude and not at all subtle.

    • Cindy says:

      Marisa thank you. What was really upsetting was that I had been walking with her for over a year, and then she was like this to me. Yes I will just keep my distance now! Thanks.

  4. Cindy says:

    Thanks Amy for your comments which have helped me a great deal. I was only saying I had done more swimming lenghts because I stopped in longer because the water was warm, so I achieved more, but I think they thought I was bragging.

    Never mind, I am not going walking with them at the moment because I dont feel very happy about it, and have plenty of other things i can do.

    Thanks for your help. Cindy

  5. Amy says:

    You may have hit the nail on the head about this neighbor considering you more an acquaintance than friend, although I don’t think I’ve had any friends since I became an adult that I saw more than once or twice a week unless we were coworkers. Who has the time?
    To me, friendship is about the quality of time we spend together, not the quantity.
    There’s often a grain of truth in teasing, do ask yourself if you’ve inadvertently bragged about your superior swimming skills or anything else.
    I think it’s great you’ve notice that you’ve felt like a tag-along, because than if there’s something you’re doing, you can change it. Or, if you’re insecure, maybe your perception is off.
    I’ve had relationships where I’ve felt closer to the person and she’s considered me an acquaintance, and they usually don’t work out since you can’t make someone like you more than they do or fake the chemistry Irene talked about. I think her advice about declining threesome activities, if you feel uncomfortable is good. In the meanwhile, seek out others who treat you like they enjoy your company.
    Good luck.

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