Your Guide To Pocketing, One Of The Most Annoying Dating Trends

As if dating didn't already have enough stress involved (especially if you're also working on your mental health), including social media can add to the headache. While introducing a new partner to your friends or even family can have its own headache-inducing implications, knowing when to share a new relationship on social media can be even trickier. The question of when to share the relationship can be exacerbated further if your new partner has different opinions and/or involvement with social media than you do. Enter: pocketing.

Katherine Glaser, LCSW, explained to Well + Good, "Pocketing is the new buzzword for not outing your relationship or person you've [been] seeing on social media." Whether that means outright denying a hard launch or subtly avoiding a soft launch, it can lead some to wonder if their new partner is trying to keep the relationship a secret. While there is no specific rulebook on when or how to share a new relationship, it can be troubling if your new partner is keeping you separate from parts of their life (like social media). This can be especially concerning if they're also exhibiting pocketing behavior in everyday life. So, how do you know if someone is pocketing you or if they just have different boundaries and preferences for sharing personal details? Let's explore the world of pocketing and see if it's something you should be worried about with your new relationship.

Why are people pocketing?

While pocketing can definitely make you question your relationship, it's important to remember that the behavior might not necessarily be about you. Certified dating and relationship expert Callisto Adams, Ph.D., explained to Well + Good, "There are often personal reasons [for pocketing] rather than reasons that have to do with you specifically. People often pocket their partner because they've had bad experiences before, [or] they're insecure about the 'quality' of their social circle." Having firmer boundaries around introducing new relationships could simply be a way to try something new based on past experiences, rather than a reflection of shame or withholding.

With that being said, there are definitely pocketing behaviors that are red flags. A lack of transparency doesn't bode well for a healthy long-term relationship, and the vagueness of pocketing means there is no shortage of reasons as to why it could be happening. It could be that the person you're with isn't emotionally able to be in a relationship, they could be lying about who they are, or they could think you won't mesh with their circle. If you've already had a conversation about being in a committed relationship and your partner is still unwilling to introduce you to their circle, there's definitely a problem. Not only does keeping you a secret ensure your relationship is kept emotionally and physically separate from the rest of their life, but it also begs the question of what they're hiding.

How to identify pocketing

Social media can be a good place to start if your partner actively uses it. If you notice you're never included in posts or tags, it could mean pocketing — especially if they remove any tags or photos you might have posted of them. Similarly, if you feel you're at a point where you should have met your partner's friends or circle already, start paying attention to why you haven't yet. If your partner fails to invite you to specific events that include their friends and/or family, or they make frequent excuses about why you can't meet their friends/family (maybe even with the promise of a 'next time' that never comes) you might be pocketed.

Another sign of pocketing is where you spend your time. As psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic explained to NBC News, "You don't meet at places where you have a high chance of running into someone they know. In most cases, they prefer meeting you in your or their apartment." If you're only spending time at home or in specific places with no overlap in your partner's life, try suggesting different places to test the water. If you do happen to run into someone from your partner's life, pay close attention to how they introduce you (if they don't introduce you at all that's a pretty clear sign). Also, if the person has no idea who you are and doesn't recognize your name, there's definitely a pocketing situation going on.

Should you be worried

Deciphering pocketing from boundaries can be tricky. Setting boundaries is extremely important when establishing a new relationship, so not all privacy-focused behaviors should immediately be labeled pocketing. Part of these boundaries can include social media and/or introducing a new person to your circle. Some people are simply far more private about what they do or don't share with others, and it's important to respect those wishes.

However, there are definitely behaviors that go over the line of basic boundaries and you should be mindful of when and if they occur. If you find yourself with someone who is still unwilling to share you or your relationship with the world after an extended amount of time, that's a red flag. The most important thing to remember when it comes to pocketing is that if you feel like something is off, trust yourself enough to bring it up.

The best thing to do if you suspect that your partner is engaging in pocketing is to ask them about it. "If you have a pit in your stomach about it or feel that something may not be quite right, then voice it," Glaser explained to Well + Good. There are a myriad of ways to be direct with your partner and express your needs, so find a way to approach the topic rather than letting the issue fester. Good communication is key to a healthy relationship, so definitely approach the topic with your partner before spiraling to conclusions.