‘Pocketing’ Is the Latest Dating Trend You Need to Be Aware Of, Grand

‘Pocketing’ Is the Latest Dating Trend You Need to Be Aware Of, Grand
Contributor: Juna Xu

It’s hard to resist those constant butterflies in your stomach when you start dating someone new. Whenever you’re around them or even when they cross your mind (which seems to be every second of every day), you get a rush of sparks, giddiness and hope. It’s a truly magical phase. 

As your relationship develops and strengthens, and you continue to go on cute dates and adventures together, of course, there naturally comes a time when you want to take the next big step: making the relationship social media #official. After all, it’s a simple way to show your newfound joy to others and also express to the person you’ve been seeing how much you care about them. 

So, you take to your exciting hard launch on Instagram… only to be disappointed when this same behaviour isn’t reciprocated. No re-share. No tag. Nada. More dates go by, and while they seem to have good intentions in person, they continue to fail to acknowledge your existence online. 

You, my friend, are being pocketed. 

What’s pocketing?

pocketing dating
Pocketing trend in dating. iStock

In short, pocketing is when the person you thought you were dating goes to all lengths to hide your relationship/situationship/whatever-they-want-to-label-it from the rest of the world. 

“It’s when the person you’re newly seeing keeps you in their ‘pocket’ and separates you from other areas of their life,” explained relationship expert Alina Rose. 

For example, they won’t post you on social media or tag you in their stories, so to their followers, you basically don’t exist. And it’s not just reserved for the online world — it’s an IRL issue, too.

“In real life, they will do things with you one-on-one but won’t loop you into family events (they’ll go alone) or bring you out to gatherings with friends,” Rose added.

That means no dinner with the ‘rents or arvo drinks with their mates.

On a more concerning level, being pocketed can also extend to random run-ins when out and about. “If you bump into people they know while you’re out, they won’t introduce you, or they’ll be really nonchalant and will just kind of wave in your direction while mumbling your name as a form of intro,” Rose said. 

The toll of pocketing on your mental health

All this stress from being pocketed can certainly take a toll on your mental health, especially if you classify social media as your love language.

As Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno pointed out when we chatted with her, “It may lead to issues with the individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Being pocketed can make you start questioning your self-worth, and soon enough, you’re spending every waking moment reflecting, dissecting and replaying each millisecond you’ve spent with your so-called partner to find out why you’re being treated like so. 

“No one wants to feel like they’re being hidden away or as though they’re not important enough to meet their partner’s friends or family,” Sokarno noted. “Everyone wants their partner to feel proud of them and to show them off. Most people want to feel like a significant part of the other person’s life and part of that is meeting the people in their life who mean the most to them.”

Am I being pocketed or…

But where do you draw the line between being pocketed versus rushing into things versus a sign your significant other just lacks basic social media presence? 

Well, it really comes down to context. 

“Since all relationships are unique and all people approach their relationship differently, there needs to be some valuable time that has passed before rushing in to meet friends and family,” Sokarno explained.

After all, meeting these people in their circle on, say, the first or second date, would be a red flag itself. 

The reasons people behave this way

Surprisingly, being pocketed doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is completely doomed. In fact, someone who is pocketing you can actually have good intentions. 

Because the main crux of pocketing comes down to protecting feelings, there is a chance it could be your feelings they’re trying to protect. For instance, your S.O might know their social circle is ruthless towards new partners. (Ouch.)

There are other factors to take into consideration: the age of your partner in question, any religious or cultural influences and past relationships, including divorce. There is also the possibility in LGBTQ+ relationships that your date may not be ready to come out just yet, which is something that can’t be rushed. 

Speaking on divorce as an example, Rose explained that:

“People who are going through a divorce may want to remain sensitive to the process and any kids involved, and also introduce their new partner to family at the right time to protect the sensitivities involved in the separation. 

“Or, if they’ve recently broken up with an ex and have moved on quite quickly with you, they may want a grace period before socially stepping out with someone new,” she said.

But – and that’s a big ‘but’ – this doesn’t give them the authority to go months on end where they continue to give you false promises or excuses. There should be clear communication to let you know where you stand. 

If things don’t exactly add up and you can sense any signs of pocketing, Rose urges you to sit down and have a proper conversation with your partner where they can provide you with a timeline they feel comfortable with. From there, the two of you can negotiate a waiting period before stepping out as a couple in public.  

Then, if you’re being pocketed when the ‘negotiation’ period has passed, you have your answer: “They may not be that serious and confident about your relationship if they don’t see you fitting into their wider world.”

Again, context is everything, and the reason behind pocketing will differ in each situation. 

How to address your partner pocketing you

Repeat after us: Talk. It. Out. 

Okay, we don’t mean hitting them with a “we need to chat” text in the middle of the day. (Please, never do this.) You also want to avoid making immediate assumptions. 

Instead, create healthy dialogue that also allows them to feel comfortable enough to be open and honest with you. 

For example, you never want to start the conversation by saying something like, “I can’t believe I haven’t met your friends after all this time”, as this will only make them defensive. 

Rather, address the issue with “I” openers like, “I noticed we don’t really do things with your friends, what’s this about?” or “I feel like X, am I reading things correctly?” 

“Listen to their answer and be confident to explore timelines and parameters because your needs are important here, too,” Rose shared. “Then, ask them what needs to happen for them to feel comfortable and ready for you to feel like a part of their world.” 

At this point, Sokarno advises you to pay close attention to how your partner responds. “Are they open to talking about it, or do they want to change the subject?” 

If they reply to you with vague comments like, “I don’t know when I’ll be ready” or “I don’t know why but it’s just not the right time”, then you, my friend, have your answer. 

Rose said that replies like these give you the authority to respond with a bigger explanation for pocketing — something along the lines of: “I understand. The people in your life mean a lot to you. What I do know is that being part of someone’s life is really important for me as well, so I would love to discuss some parameters around how to make this work. It’s important for me – when I’m in a relationship with someone – that we are out in the open, and I don’t feel like a secret.” 

When is it time to walk away? 

So, you’ve had the talk – or at least attempted – and you still can’t seem to shake that gut feeling telling you things aren’t right. Or, worse, you’re being stonewalled, ignored or dismissed for your needs. If you find yourself in this position, then listen up: it’s time to move on. 

“At the end of the day, relationships are all about filling each other’s emotional cup,” Rose stressed. “If you’ve been patient and more than reasonable, but the relationship is serving the convenience of the other rather than you as well, it’s totally OK to call it.”

Because that magical beginning phase? That’s a beautiful foundation that should only strengthen as time goes on. You deserve to be celebrated and shown off to the world, so don’t let anybody rob you of this.

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