The holiday season is here. For a lot of us, it’s that time of year when family members and friends get together for festivities and fellowship.
And if you’re single, this can also sometimes be a very awkward time of year.
No one really loves the experience of being the last in your group of friends or family to find that special someone, and holiday gatherings can often feel like a salt-in-the-wound reminder that you’re still single.
But there’s also a new dating trend that can be a particular problem around the holidays if you’ve started dating someone. Dating experts have named this trend “pocketing.”
Pocketing is when the person you’re dating doesn’t want to introduce you to their family and friends – they’d rather just keep you in their pocket, so to speak.
So if you start seeing someone just in the nick of time for the holiday season, you still might not escape the relationship-status awkwardness that this time of year can bring.
But if you do find yourself wondering whether or not you’re being pocketed by someone you’re dating, here’s what you should know about this trend, and how to keep it from ruining your holiday season.
Pocketing isn’t always what you think
There are a lot of reasons someone you’re dating might not want to introduce you to their family and friends.
Our minds might most often travel straight to reasons like, “They’re embarrassed of me,” or “They don’t think their family and friends will like me…”
And these uncomfortable scenarios are valid possibilities. But they aren’t the only possible reasons for a situation like this.
For one, consider whether the person you’re dating might actually have a really strange family. Some people’s close and extended family members are awkward, embarrassing, or downright out-there.
The same can be said for one’s circle of friends. Sometimes, people become friends with others who are actually nothing like them at all.
When my husband and I started dating, his closest friends were some rather immature and coarse weirdos whom he had kind of outgrown but still hung out with on occasion.
He didn’t really bring me to hang out with his friends if he could help it, because he thought they’d shock me and make him look less mature and together in my eyes.
So it’s actually more than possible that the person you’re dating isn’t bringing you around their family or friends for the exact opposite reason of what you might first think.
Rather than them being embarrassed by you, there might be some measure of embarrassment or uncomfortableness because of the manners etc. of their family or friends.
They might be avoiding scenarios where you’ll meet these people to preserve your good opinion of them, or even to spare you from being uncomfortable.
How long have you been dating?
Another thing to consider if you find yourself in the situation of feeling pocketed is how long you’ve been seeing this person.
If you’ve been dating this person for several months, or a year or more, and they’re still not bringing you to meet their family or friends, then you’re probably being pocketed and there’s likely something wrong here.
But if, on the other hand, you’ve only had a small number of dates with someone and they seem reluctant to introduce you to family and friends, this might not be a problem at all.
Different people have different feelings about how significant it is to introduce a date to family and friends.
Some social or familial circles might not view meeting a new boyfriend or girlfriend as anything but a casual occurrence. And in other circles, meeting someone’s new significant other is a huge deal, something that says there’s going to be a ring sometime soon.
So if you haven’t been dating long, it’s definitely possible that you’ll still feel snubbed when the person you’re dating doesn’t want to bring you as a date to their holiday gatherings.
But try to assess those feelings rationally and examine whether it would really make sense to meet the family or friends at this point.
Especially in cases where you don’t have any idea whether things have the potential to turn into a serious relationship or not, putting off that introduction might be in everyone’s best interest.
The solution to pocketing
Like a lot of awkward situations in life, the scenario of feeling pocketed by someone you’re dating can often be solved (or at least improved) by some good old-fashioned honesty.
After my husband and I had been dating for a while, and I had already met all his family members, I noticed that it was definitely not just in my head that he was avoiding bringing me to places where his friends would be. So I asked him about it.
And he explained his honest reasons for it – most of his friends were crude and often behaved in ways he didn’t behave anymore. He didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable, and he knew that he would feel uncomfortable for my sake if I spent much time around them.
As with pretty much everything you might feel uncomfortable with when it comes to dating, discussing the issue with the person you’re dating can really improve this situation.
Ask the person you’re dating, in a non-accusatory way, whether they’re intentionally avoiding bringing you to family or friend gatherings. And if they admit that they are, ask why.
Talking about this issue openly might give you both some really good insight into how the other person thinks and feels, and about what types of things are important to one another.
The worst thing you can do here is to assume you know what’s going on in the other person’s head and feel offended before you know their motives or intentions.
Open communication in this area can help set the stage for a loving and connected relationship with someone.
So don’t rush things or jump to conclusions, on the basis of that holiday-gathering awkward feeling. Being patient and open can definitely be worth it in the long run.