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What Is Pocketing and Has It Ever Happened to You?

·521 words·3 mins

It seems like every day a new term comes out to describe another aspect of dating in the modern age.

There’s a lot to describe because dating other people is complicated. It’s kind of a jungle out there.

The newest term I just learned is “pocketing.”

What’s Pocketing?

What’s pocketing? Well, it’s when a partner won’t introduce you to any of their family, friends, or anybody who’s important to them. This can include not listing your relationship on social media or even linking profiles as friends (on the off chance that you’ll post and other people might ask who you are).

This goes beyond just taking things slow or putting off a drama-filled evening of meeting the parents, especially when a relationship is new. Pocketing can even occur in relationships that have been going on an awfully long time — and in which one would expect that eventually you’d be introduced at least to a partner’s friends.

When you’re pocketed, it’s like your relationship doesn’t publicly exist. It’s instead conducted entirely in private, at least when it comes to your partner’s social circles.

Why Do People Pocket Partners?

Why do people pocket their partners? Well, there can be a variety of reasons for it.

In certain circumstances, they could be afraid that you wouldn’t get along with their family and friends. Or perhaps they think (correctly or incorrectly) that they wouldn’t approve of your relationship.

There also could be more sinister reasons at play. They could be cheating on a partner with you.

I’ve also seen many circumstances where people were closeted about their sexual orientation and therefore never introduced their same sex partners to anyone else in their life.

And after I started engaging in polyamorous relationships and made many other polyamorous friends, I noted that some of them completely hid the fact that they were polyamorous from their family and monogamous friends. This often resulted in partners who were never introduced to most of the other people in their lives.

I’ve Definitely Been Pocketed

I myself have definitely been pocketed, especially by women who weren’t ready for their other loved ones to know that they were bisexual or queer. Sometimes it didn’t matter; other times it was a painful state of affairs.

Whether or not it was a huge problem depended on what else was going on in my life. I dealt with it okay especially if I had other relationships going on simultaneously myself where there was social recognition of the bond. But if not, if my only romantic relationship were one in which I felt like I was treated like “a dirty secret,” then being pocketed was an excruciating state of affairs.

Have You Been Pocketed?

Have you been pocketed? What were your experiences with it?

Do you think there’s an appreciable difference between taking things slow and being treated like a “dirty secret?”


For reframes and tools to maintain healthy relationships of all kinds, please see Dealing with Difficult Metamours, a guide to troubleshooting challenging polyamorous dynamics as well as guidance on how to not create them in the first place.


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