Is your relationship in a pocket?

Pocketing in a relationship is a term used to describe where the person you’re dating avoids or hesitates to introduce you to their friends, family or other people they know, whether this be in-person or on social media, despite the fact that you’ve been going out for a while. So in essence it feels like your relationship is “a secret” or is being “hidden” to the public eye.

How does one know that their relationship is in a pocket?

  • Have you ever met any of your partners family, friends or colleagues?
  • Do they include you in any social events they are attending that involves their family, friends or colleagues?
  • Do they ever speak about you to others in person or on the phone when you are present?

Pay attention to the reasons (or excuses) your partner puts on the table when it comes to social occasions or going out together in public. When you happen to bump into someone they know – how do they refer to you in that moment, do they introduce you, what reference do they give you, or do they just completely whitewash you?

If you have been dating for close on a year and you’ve never met any of your partner’s peeps, you may well be in a “pocket”.

Why would someone pocket their partner?

There could be several reasons why someone could be behaving in this way. They may want to make sure that you and the relationship has some depth and meaning to it before introducing you to their social circles and they want to be sure about it first.

Some people may have a fear of how family and friends will accept their new partner, especially if their previous relationship did not work out – we look to our family and friends for approval of our significant other.

People evolve differently in a relationship, so they are possibly being cautious in the beginning and wanting to take things slowly to get a real feel for the other person and getting to really know them well before taking their relationship to the next level.

Some people could be ‘pocketing’ their partner because they are not really that committed to the relationship, and it is more of a “situationship” so don’t want to involve them in the social aspects of their life, so they rather keep the person at a distance. This could be because they struggle with commitment, are afraid of being alone, or just want to be ‘friends with benefits’ but are not being transparent about it.

Worst case scenario is they are not mutually exclusive with you even though you think you are, they could already be involved (or possibly even married) and you are a side hustle.

Does being in a pocket mean someone loves their partner any less?

Not necessarily, if the person is genuinely interested in the person but is taking the relationship slow to be certain there is a future together, that means they really do care and don’t want to rush into things.

However, on the other hand if they genuinely are putting you and your relationship in a ‘pocket’, then yes, they are not as interested or invested in the relationship as you are, they probably like you, but it is less likely that they love you and want to be in a long term commitment.

What do you do if you are feel you are being put in a pocket?

It’s important to discuss how you are feeling with your partner. Key is not to do it in an accusatory way or give your partner an ultimatum as these seldom work. Share openly how being excluded is making you feel and be curious as to why your partner is doing this as there could be a genuine reason underneath their behaviour.

Gain insights and a perspective from them as to why this happening, and if they see it changing in the near future.  Put a timeline in mind as to when this could start to shift based on your discussion and be aware as to whether this does start changing or whether your partner keeps bringing more reasons (or excuses) to the table going forward.

If there is very little follow through after your discussion you may need to make the decision to move on and find a partner who is not afraid to be out in public with you.

If your relationship is a secret, then it’s not a relationship – it’s a situationship.

A version of this article was published on News24 | W24 website here

Paula Quinsee: Growth Mindset Catalyst and Relationship Coach specializing in creating healthy relationships at home and in the workplace to co-create a more human connected world and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also a passionate advocate for mental health and Gender Based Violence, an international and Tedx speaker and author of two self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. More info: https://paulaquinsee.com/