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Pocketing Relationship – Definition, Signs, What to Do if You’re Pocketed, and Everything Else

Pocketing Relationship – Definition, Signs, What to Do if You’re Pocketed, and Everything Else

Updated on Aug 02, 2023

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life & Relationship Coach

Pocketing Relationship - Definition, Signs, What to Do if You’re Pocketed, & More

Did you recently learn the term pocketing relationship? Wanna know what is pocketing in a relationship… whether or not your relationship is one of them?

This is when your dating partner keeps your relationship low even when people ask them about it. While you’re dying to exclaim he/she is yours proudly… they “hush” you.

You try to be understanding because the matters of the heart aren’t that simple… but something feels off.

Well, if you want to get down to the bottom of this, my think-piece will reveal it all.

So, let’s get started…

What is Pocketing in a Relationship?

Pocketing in a relationship means your dating partner keeps you and your relationship a secret from others for an indefinite period.

Do you feel like a stranger every time you attend an event with your dating partner? Do they introduce you as their wife’s sister to their colleagues?

And to your surprise, they introduce you as their colleague to their wife!

The truth of your relationship is shut in a closet.

If the relationship or your identity in their life is always hidden, then they are hiding you in their pocket, my friend. And that’s what you call pocketing in a relationship.

In pocketing, your partner keeps you a secret as long as they can. They won’t disclose your real identity or the label of your relationship to anyone.

Now, if you’re wondering if hiding your relationship is always bad or not, let’s keep reading here…

Should I worry about being pocketed in a relationship?

If the pocketing is mutual and you’re in the early stages of your relationship, it might not be anything worrisome. But, if it goes on for too long, something’s off.

A valid question, indeed.

Everyone keeps their relationship under wraps for the first couple of months, for obvious reasons.

Frankly speaking, when pocketing is a mutual decision, i.e., where both parties decide to keep their relationship private in the starting phase, just to gather some confidence, it’s absolutely fine. This is called being cautious.

Couples take time to understand if the relationship has enough potential to keep both partners happy forever.

Besides, you also want to be double sure about your dating partner before introducing them to your friends and family.

It depends on how soon you can be confident about your choices. Because once you’re confident, you’re ready to share the big news.

But there’s a difference!

Being cautious in the starting phase of a relationship is a mutual and understandable decision. But, hiding your relationship from others is fishy because only one partner keeps the other ‘partner’ hidden.

Eventually, it comes down to the difference between ‘pocketing the relationship temporarily’ and ‘pocketing a partner permanently’ in a relationship.

They aren’t being cautious dear, rather, they’re cunning. They don’t want others to discover the truth about your relationship.

So, if you experienced this for far too long, and you don’t know what’s on their mind, it’s time to know that here…

Why do people pocket their significant others?

Pocketing comes with the intention of hiding away from your partner. But the question is, why would your partner do so, especially if they want to spend the rest of their life with you?

Broadly speaking, it’s all about honesty and courage. Either they aren’t truthful to you, or they do not have the courage to accept you in front of others.

But there can be other reasons too… so, let’s know about all the possibilities…

1. They’re invested elsewhere too

This is the most obvious reason for being pocketed. They might be married… or even have kids! Maybe you’re just a casual affair for them.

If not this, then they’re committed to someone that cannot satisfy their demands.

If they disclose your identity and relationship to their spouse/steady partner, it will cost them heavily. Their partner will obviously explode after discovering the truth. So, they try to hide you for as long as possible!

2. They are hesitant about their family

If they particularly kept you hidden from their family, it’s probably because they don’t want you to learn some weird facts about them.

Perhaps they have toxic parents… or the family has some scary dark secrets that will make you run for the hills? Or they fear their family being judged.

Whatever the reason is, it’s not wise to hide truths from each other in a relationship. Being open and honest is a non-negotiable requirement of a healthy relationship.

3. There is a religious barrier

Another common scenario is the wicked role of society. Parents and elders are not always open-minded. Naturally, they oppose inter-caste, inter-faith, and sometimes even inter-racial relationships.

Perhaps, their elders believe in a lot of superstitious traditions too. So, your dating partner feels that their family won’t accept you based on religious or caste grounds.

But pocketing you won’t change your religion or any info. Sooner or later, they must muster the courage to accept you in front of their family members.

4. They are struggling with their sexuality

If you are being pocketed in a gay or lesbian relationship, then it’s quite clear that they are either confused about their sexuality, or they’re afraid of coming out of the closet.

It’s good that they’re exploring and experimenting. But if they plan to pocket you forever, that’s pretty disrespectful!

5. They’re hooked up for the materialistic benefit

One person cannot have true feelings for multiple people at a time. But, let’s assume they’re nonmonogamous and they truly love you and someone else. In that case, they must at least take both partners’ consent and clear the labels.

If they are dating another person along with you, neither of you guys know each other, and you never consented to share your partner, nor do you know about the other partner’s decision… then they’re possibly in for materialistic benefits from either of you.

They might be pocketing their other partner from you as well.

Are you uncertain whether you’re being pocketed or if your partner just needs more time? Don’t worry, let’s make sure what’s your situation here…

Signs of pocketing

Your partner might be waiting for the right time to make the relationship public… maybe it’s when they can get into their dream college or earn enough to take care of you. And probably, they don’t intend to hide anything at all.

However, there’s a limit to waiting… So if you’ve been dating since 16 and they’re waiting until they can proudly ask for your hand from your parents… that’s quite absurd.

So, if it’s been too long, you better know if they’re truly waiting or if you’re being pocketed here…

1. They never bring their friends or family into the discussion

In dating, the first striking question to pop into your mind is about their family. Who are their parents? Do they have siblings? What are their family dynamics? How are people in their families?

You have all the right to know about your date’s background. If your partner doesn’t talk about their friends or family to you, it’s not natural.

If you ask about their family, do they give you a vague reply or change the topic after that? If your queries remain unanswered, that’s a red flag of a pocketing relationship.

2. You have never been to their home

As a relationship progresses, you’ll eventually visit their apartment or home.

Realistically, you can only hop around bars, restaurants, or cafes for a while. At some point, both of you will be too tired or sick to hang out outdoors and need to visit each other’s home.

Now let’s assume that even though your relationship is healthy and stable, you’ve never been to their place. To top it off, you often insist on going to their place, but they deny it.

Well, they’re probably not confident about their residence and don’t want you to see it.

But if you see that this is clubbed with other signs like not introducing you to their dear ones, and keeping you aloof in the relationship, it’s a warning sign of a pocketing relationship.

3. They never post you on their social media

Okay… before you all scream that updating your relationship status on a social media platform isn’t mandatory… I understand that!

But if your partner is active on social media, posts about their friends and parties, or even posted about their exes before, they can at least post about you as a friend!

Moreover, do they stop you from posting about their relationship on your social media platforms too?

If they have a valid reason for this, take your call.

If the relationship is all about staying hidden, it’s time to reassess the dating terms… because you’re pretty deep in the pocket!

4. They don’t spend time with you

Let’s say you guys began the date an hour ago, and they already have something urgent on. If they always find excuses to leave earlier, even on your birthday or other special days, that’s a reason to be worried.

If they leave you right after attending a call, be vigilant. Who knows if it was their other partner’s call?  

If they have important work or assignments with strict deadlines, I’m sure you’d have known that already. But if you suddenly get to know about their pending tasks in the middle of the date and they often push you away this way… RED FLAG ALERT!

A person who is into you will spend time with you no matter what. They’ll wrap their work ASAP to have more time with you.

But if it feels like pulling a tooth to make them stay with you, your partner is pocketing you.

5. You never met their family or friends

If it’s a budding relationship, hesitation is totally normal. But if it’s a long-term relationship and yet you haven’t met their friends and family, tear the curtain apart and see what’s behind them.

If you meet their family members, you can know your partner better, understand the type of people around them, and also get time to bond with their loved ones.

A truly loving partner that sees a future with you will never miss this opportunity. However, a person who may not have the best intentions for you will object and bury you deep in their pocket.

6. They give you a fake identity

Suppose, during your date, someone walks up to your partner and greets them. Your partner doesn’t introduce you by themselves at all. On being asked, they introduce you as a coworker or a friend.

Even though you both share a much deeper connection, doesn’t that sting your chest?

Either they don’t invite you to their social gatherings, or even if they invite you, they don’t let your real identity out.

Again, if you know a justified cause behind this, decide for yourself.

But if it’s all about masking your real identity, then friend, you must not entertain this pocketing sign.

7. You meet them at secret spots

So, figure out which of these happens to you…

  • You both always meet up secretly.
  • You meet or hang out too far from the city or someplace least known.
  • They always reserve a seat at the back of the restaurant or café.

If you guys meet at shady places, it is evident that they avoid being spotted with you. Dig the truth behind them going to such great extent to hide you.

Probably, they avoid the places near their residency, workplace, or anywhere they might come across acquaintances.

In extreme cases, they might even refuse to recognize you in public places. Doesn’t that sound weird?

So, if you’re familiar with all or most of these signs, reanalyze the grounds of your relationship.

The actual question here is: are you okay with all of these?  If you too want to stay lowkey in the relationship, then that is a mutual decision.

But if not, here’s what to do if you’re subjected to pocketing. So, what can you do right now? Let’s know it here…

What to do if you’re being pocketed?

Clear-cut communication can solve any problem in a relationship. That’s what relationship expert Maria Suvillan suggests too.

Pocketing is not an issue beyond communication. Of course, if your partner only means to take advantage of you, they won’t cooperate. But let’s not assume the worst and try your best with these steps…

1. If you’ve caught them pocketing you, first thing first, calm down. It’s messed up, but you can do something better than making it worse.

2. After clearing your negative thoughts, figure out what you want to talk about, what you’ll mention, and how to express it without hurting them. I know you’re hurting far more, but just control your emotions to make things work for the best.

3. Strike up an open and honest conversation with your partner. Tell them how badly you want to meet their friends and family.

4. If they are pocketing you, they’ll deny your request for sure. In that case, tell them why you want to meet their friends and family members. Give them fair reasons to support your request. Don’t pressurize them, or it’ll lead to a fight.

5. If they still refuse, ask them: “WHY?” Again be very patient because you need a constructive discussion and not chaos. Be all ears to them and be empathetic so that they can share their issues comfortably.

6. If they lack courage, be supportive. Don’t judge, rather build their confidence. Plan the best time and environment with them to disclose your relationship. It will naturally prepare them for the big announcement.

7. After this, ask them to set a time frame in which they will introduce you to their close ones. Give them as much time as they want so that they don’t give excuses later.

8. Be alert about their activities during this time period and mind their intentions. If they show dishonest signs, gather enough evidence before confronting them.

9. If your partner can’t accept you publicly after all these efforts, feel free to walk out of the hide-and-seek game.

Just know if they love you truly, they will come back and accept you in front of everyone. If they don’t come back, they aren’t suitable for you.

10. Last but not least, your identity constructs your individuality, so make it your first priority. Loving someone must not cost you your self-respect.

With that in mind, let me answer your last couple of queries with these frequently asked questions…

FAQs about pocketing relationship

Being pocketed in a relationship isn’t the best feeling… it takes a huge toll on your self-respect and you just feel “Am I not good enough to be introduced to their loved ones?”

Even if it’s literally your partner’s issue, you still feel it’s your fault. During this crisis, you definitely have many questions in your mind. So, know everything here once and for all…

1. Should you be concerned about pocketing?

If they are pocketing you at the beginning of a relationship, and it’s a mutual decision, don’t worry about it. You both are just being cautious. When the right time arrives, you can tell others about your relationship.

But say that you’ve been in a stable and healthy long-term relationship, there is no reason to hide it. But if they still hide the truth, it’s concerning as it’s a sign of dishonesty.

However, if they’re pocketing you due to some real constraints, family pressure, and other problematic issues, you can wait for some time… but not forever.

2. Can pocketing still happen if your partner isn’t on social media?

Pocketing obviously can happen without social media. It’s not just about being “committed” on social-media.

If your partner doesn’t take you to any family gatherings or even introduce you to their siblings, that’s fishy.

Whether they have a lot of friends or only a handful of them… if they never let you meet any of them, then honey, your partner is pocketing you.

3. Why do pocketing and Instagram go hand-in-hand?

Instagram or any other social media site like Facebook allows you to contact any attractive-looking person you want. You can even DM celebrities.

…and that may be why your partner wants to keep this relationship a secret.
So, once your partner opens up about their relationship on Instagram, all the other doors will be closed for them.

4. Can pocketing happen to anyone?

Yes… to anyone romantically involved with their partners.

Especially if you’re dating an already married or committed person, pocketing is bound to happen.

People who hook up to you just for pleasure and materialistic gain can pocket you too.

5. Is pocketing a new trend?

Pocketing is not at all a new trend, in fact, the term has been prevalent for many years. But due to social media, it gained more popularity recently.

There was never a time when people did not keep their affairs a tight secret.

In the past, when men married two women and didn’t want their wives to learn about each other, they hid them from each other… and maybe from friends and family too. In fact, this is a very common and old practice!

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Relationships are not just about hanging around with your lover. At least, the scenario can’t forever be about you two, right?

No, there’s no hurry to seek social acceptance right away. But if you’re in a romantic relationship for a long time now, it doesn’t deserve to be pocketed either!

If any issues stop you from taking the relationship to the next level, sort it out with an honest conversation. A little courage, some confidence, and a lot of trust in your love. That’s all you guys need!