What Is Pocketing In A Relationship?

So, you're dating someone new, and they're great. Actually, not just great, but fantastic. You've told everyone in your life about them — friends, family, the barista at Starbucks — and your social media has been inundated with photos of you two together. You're so smitten that you've even started bringing them to events so you can show off how you finally hit the jackpot with this wonderful human. But something isn't making sense. Why aren't they doing the same? Why is their Instagram full of memes and selfies but nothing that even remotely suggests your existence? Why have you never met any of their friends? What's going on?

Well, not to throw a wrench in your new relationship, but the person you're seeing could be "pocketing" you. In other words, they're keeping you and your relationship under wraps by basically stashing you in their pocket (via Distractify). And, like most dating trends, it's not new; it's just that there's a word for it now.

"Every week, I am reading a new term for BDB, bad dating behavior," relationship expert and author Susan Winter tells Today. "The list seems endless, but this behavior has been around for a very long time. And anyone who has been considered a side chick or somebody who's dating somebody, and they tell their friends that they're seeing this person, yet their friends have never met them, and they're not connected on social media — this is just the outgrowth of that." While not every pocketing situation is because you're someone's "side chick," pocketing can still feel pretty awful. But if you know the signs, you can ask your partner what the deal is. 

Signs you're being pocketed

When it comes to pocketing, the signs are pretty obvious, even if you don't want to acknowledge them right away. "Almost everyone is on some kind of social media these days, where it's common to post pictures of our lives, friends, family, pets, and even what we ate for lunch," licensed clinical social worker Katherine Glaser, LCSW, tells Well + Good. "So, if the person you are seeing is active on social media but not showing any signs you exist, you might be getting pocketed."

While you may not exist according to the Instagram feed of the person you're dating, pocketing isn't limited to just social media. It's just that social media has given people another way to pocket the person they're seeing. If you're being pocketed, then you probably have never met any of the friends of the person you're dating, you're not being invited to social events or parties with them, and forget about meeting their family — that's just not in the cards anytime soon, or in some cases, ever. It doesn't matter how many people in your life that they've met; if they're pocketing you, then you haven't met anyone, or very few people, in theirs (via Women's Health).

Why someone might pocket you and how to stop it

It's important to realize that just because you're being pocketed, it's not necessarily about you. "Pocketing can happen for any number of reasons: some may pocket their partners due to a negative experience from their past," dating expert Maria Sullivan tells Glamour. "If someone feels a level of insecurity or jealously, they may pocket their partner in a misguided attempt to preserve the relationship."

Although, as Sullivan points out, it could also be a sign of something shadier, you shouldn't jump to conclusions and automatically think the worst. Instead of letting yourself get caught up in an endless array of what ifs, you're better off asking the person you're dating what the situation is, especially if you're hoping that whatever you have is going to evolve into something serious and long-term. 

"Give the person an opportunity to talk with you about why you've yet to meet their friends and family," licensed clinical social worker Rachel Perlstein tells NBC. "It's possible that they are not pocketing you, but their time frame works different from yours ... and/or you're both viewing the relationship differently." Our past relationships come into play when we're dating someone new. Because of this, while one person may think a month or two into dating someone is a good time to start introductions to friends and family, someone else may want to wait six months, or maybe even a year. With this in mind, if you are being pocketed, don't freak out. Instead, get the facts about what's going on. Then, if you find out you're a side piece, you can freak out, or take the high road and walk away.