I can't remember the context, but I remember at some point in my girlhood someone told me that in friends groups of three, one person always felt left out...like the third wheel...at one time or another. And that would eventually cause conflict or hurt feelings.
I have to say that, in my life experience, I've observed that to be true. I'm not sure whether it's just natural insecurity or what. The threesome can come together and have fun, but at some point someone tends to feel like the one liked least by one or the other party. Which isn't to say it can't work, but just that the dynamics change back and forth a lot, disrupting the whole.
As you probably know, I have three dogs. It's hard to love equally with three dogs. For one thing, you only have two arms and, invariably, someone will get left out. When Mystic joined us, I gave her extra lovin' to the chagrin of the others, because I wanted her to feel welcome. But I could tell she felt left out, regardless. And how could she not? Kizzie and Magick and I had had five years together as a family. We had a groovy thing going and she, for no reason other than being new, disturbed that balance.
I've also always been concerned about Mystic fitting in because she's a bit of a square peg in our round hole. The other two dogs are very low key and can be a total spazz. So in the dog portion of the family, she often ends up being the third wheel. For example, if all three of them decide to wrestle together, Kizzie and Magick invariably end up double-teaming Mystic. Which she LOVES, actually. But she gets singled out in all sorts of other ways, too, that make me sensitive to her position in the family.
Anyway, over the last six months or so, I've noticed some very interesting changes in the dog portion of the family. Each of them has found a way to spend one-on-one time with each other...to build their individual relationships. Kizzie and Magick go outside every evening without me and Mystic and hang out together. Kizzie and Mystic often sleep together downstairs at night. (Because Kizzie is older, he can't come upstairs anymore.) This really warms my heart because Kizzie did NOT want a third dog and was annoyed about the situation for some time. He's very Zen and her energy is just too much. Finally, Magick and Mystic engage in fisticuffs with each other every night and usually also hang out outside together each morning after Kizzie comes inside.
I didn't really notice this until recently, but I love how they all see their individual relationships as something important and worth nurturing for the sake of the whole. I've always made a point of forging individual, one-on-one relationships with each of the babies, too. These strong individual relationships seem to make the family stronger. Everyone manages to have their alone time. And everyone manages to have their buddy time. But most of the time we're all peacefully together in the same room. It just all feels very healthy and balanced to me. I worried about this for a long time because Mystic goes from 0-60 in a split second and doesn't seem to care who she tramples along the way. But it has worked itself out.
We've all probably been Mystic at one time in our lives. For that matter we've all probably been Kizzie, Magick and me at some point. I remember having friend groups where there was someone I didn't like. So I would just avoid getting together when that person was around or whatever. But I never lived the role of the person wanting everyone to get together and work things out until I got my dogs.
I've always been very compartmentalized with friends, rarely letting "worlds collide". It has been interesting to watch how these creatures that we deem inferior to us handle stuff like this. I grew up in a family of humans twice as large and, while some of us had individual relationships with another, for the most part we never even got to know each other on that level back then. The same can be said about neighbors, coworkers or another close group of people. We tend to separate, sort and filter when it's human to human.
While we focus on ego concerns like who is liked the best or who said what to who, dogs just slowly shift and move themselves towards a harmonious whole. There is so much wisdom in a dog. So much of everything they do is love-motivated. What I've learned from dogs over the course of my lifetime is easily on par with what I've learned from my parents and other teachers. When I was growing up, there was a sense in society that they were "just a dog". But that's changing. The more time I spend with my dog family, the more I realize who the inferior beings really are.