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Do You Have A ‘Third Place’? Here’s Why Having A ‘Lepak’ Spot Is Good For You

Do You Have A ‘Third Place’? Here’s Why Having A ‘Lepak’ Spot Is Good For You

Home is where the heart is. Work is where the stress is (LOL). Where do you go in between?

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We’re all familiar with the importance of work-life balance, and now more than ever, we’re prioritising self-care and the value of having a life outside of work.

READ MORE: Malaysia Is Better Than Singapore In Work-Life Balance… Says A Singaporean

However, having a fulfilling life means more than just juggling between work and home. If your daily routine feels like a repetitive grind of commuting between these two places, and you constantly feel like something is missing, you’re not alone.

But, it’s probably not what you think it is.

No, it’s not a boyfriend or a girlfriend. It’s a third place!


And no, this doesn’t involve third-wheeling your friend’s dates!

Home is where the heart is. Work is where the stress is (LOL). So, where do you go in between?

(Credit: Papaioannou Kostas via Unsplash)

A third place is a familiar spot where you go to regularly connect with people (new or known) over a common interest. 

It’s a space that’s unique to you. It can be anywhere from spiritual places like the masjid or your local temple. Places where you can be one with nature like parks and beaches. Or places where you can chill out and socialise like the mamaks or your favorite pub.

Wherever your third place is, it should serve as a place where you can be yourself and simply show up!

“But, how does adding another place on my list help take the load off?”

(Credit: jcomp via freepik)

“Doesn’t it take more effort to go out? I don’t need to leave my house to have a life!” 

All very valid points, but third places aren’t something we conjured up on our own to force you to leave your couch. The “Third Place Theory” was actually coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1989 in his book The Great Good Place.

The theory circles around the idea that our lives can be divided into three primary realms: the first place, the second place, and the third place. The first place is home, the second place is work, and the third place is community.

And community is important, even though you’re a homebody and an introvert (like me). Having a third place is like carving out a lil’ nook for yourself in this big, scary world.

(Credit: Afta Putta Gunawan via Pexels)

Even though it’s crazy easy to form connections with people these days, (social media being the captain of that ship), it strangely doesn’t make us feel any more integrated with the world around us. If anything, it leaves us feeling more distanced and disconnected.

This is why third places are so important. They offer you a breather from the weight of the world without removing you from it altogether.

Third places are different from your occasional bazaar trips or that impromptu hotpot session with your friends.

(Credit: National Archives SG via Makansutra)

You know those uncles (or aunties) that sit in the same kopitiams, order the same drinks and are with the same people almost every day? No one understands third places better than they do.

Oldenburg argued that having third places is necessary for public well-being. Third places aid the formation of a strong sense of self without championing isolation. It’s where we find influence and identity, and subsequently, shape the culture of the space we inhabit.

We are living in a state of information overload.

(Credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash)

We consume more than we create, and even the times we do create we are expected to be productive. Hanging out for the sake of just hanging out is seen as a waste of time if it’s not moving us towards our next goal. 

Yet, this is the reason why burnout syndrome is becoming a huge issue in Malaysia.

READ MORE: No More Excuses! Here’s Why You Should Treat Yourself Right

Taking dance classes, going to Pilates, or frequenting your neighbourhood cafe every other day are all great examples of third place behaviours. But the requisite for third place activities is that it should not be a burden – it should be easy enough that it turns into a habit for you. 

So, the next time your parents have a problem with you lepak-ing with your friends at the mamak, tell ‘em it’s for your mental health and for the greater good of society. 😎

Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of a third place.

(Credit: jcomp via freepik)

Oldenburg also noted that third places are much more valuable when they don’t require a vehicle to access. However, accessibility is not only limited to distance, but also how much it stretches our wallets. Not everyone can afford a gym membership and matcha lattes on the regular.

This is why parks, beaches, or literally the padang across the street from your house are actually great third places. ‘Cause it doesn’t cost any money for you to gather with people in these spaces. Proper city planning can unlock these areas for communal gatherings and help foster a sense of belonging to the vicinity we’re in.

“But, everything is online these days. Who needs to go out anymore?”

(Credit: Fredrick Tendong via Unsplash)

Also another valid point. But we must point out that there are studies that prove nothing beats in-person interactions when it comes to third places. There’s a palpability that cannot be replaced and it must be preserved if we want to thrive as human beings. 

READ MORE: Online Shopping Is Cool, But Here’s Why You Can Never Replace Physical Stores

Yet, online communities do serve their purpose as legit third places. The main reason for this being; accessibility.

66% of the world has access to the Internet. Possibly the most relevant form of online communities are developed through online gaming. People often form lasting relationships in these spaces and online games have become third places for people all over the world.

And with the advent of virtual realities, we imagine that third places will be redefined in time to come.

But despite how accessible and unique third places are, not all places should be third places.

Like, lepak-ing at a petrol station with your friends while cooking Maggi on a gas stove…

That will likely send you to a fourth place, if you know what we mean.

What’s your third place? If you don’t have one yet, it’s time to find it!

(Credit: tirachardz via freepik)

And who knows, if you find the perfect spot, you might not need to third wheel your friend’s dates anymore. 😉

READ MORE:What’s The Difference Between An Ick And A Red Flag?

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