It’s been four months since you started dating Jim. You’ve gone hiking, binged the entire second season of Fleabag together and eaten at his favorite pizzeria so many times you feel like the staff knows you’re together. But you haven’t met any of his actual friends—let alone any family. Wait, you did run into his college buddy on the street, though! And they chatted for a bit…but now that you think about it, he glazed right over an introduction, didn’t he? And when you posted a pic of you two, he asked you to delete it. Welp, take a seat. We’re sorry to say it, but it sounds like this Jim character is stashing you.
Hold up. What is “stashing” exactly?
Stashing is when one person in a relationship makes the conscious decision to hide the other person from his or her inner circle, and yes, that includes both in real life and on social media. (Deep breaths.) Of course, this is so much more a reflection of the stasher than the stashee, but c’mon, it’s downright rude and hurtful as hell.
Great, the person I’m seeing is stashing me. Why is this happening?
There’s no one reason why stashing happens, but we spoke with marriage and couples therapist Irina Firstein about it. She told us the stasher may be stashing you because they 1) are embarrassed by or have issues with their family, 2) don’t see a serious future with you or 3) are carrying on another relationship simultaneously. None—we repeat, none—of these reasons (or any others) are good enough to justify making you feel like dirt, but having a little bit of insight might take the edge off.
How do I bring up stashing to the person I’m seeing?
“Ask them why you haven’t met anyone important in their life,” Firstein says, “and follow up with questions if they give you the runaround.” (Psst: “There hasn’t been a convenient time” can be filed under “runaround.”) The conversation might bring you closer together over some shared vulnerabilities—maybe the so-called stasher is not on speaking terms with certain family or friends after a falling-out—but there’s also the potential for the opposite to happen.
What if I’m met with backlash?
If this person is doing something hurtful to you and they respond in any way that’s not supportive, understanding or at least curious, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship, because let’s be honest, that wasn’t that tough of a question. Sidestepping your feelings is a major red flag. And, as Firstein sees it, “If they play ignorant, that’s a form of manipulation.” Tough love, people.
Remember that a caring partner will not want you to feel this way, and if they really do have a good reason for keeping you stashed, like a family matter or they just weren’t “there” yet, they’ll be receptive to the conversation and interested in moving forward. If not, then you deserve to be with someone who wants to roof you. (That’s the term we just made up that means “shout from the rooftops that they get to be with you.”)