From ghosting (suddenly disappearing on someone) to mooning (muting a love interest’s texts – older iPhones had a moon logo that showed up when you muted a conversation) – just when you thought you were up to date on all the latest dating lingo, there’s a new one to add to the list: stashing.
While the term may be new, “stashing” – when the person you’re dating doesn’t introduce you to their friends, family, siblings or anyone in their life – has likely been happening ever since a caveman said to his cavewoman, “Hey, uh, why don’t we hang out at this super secluded cave because I’m not good with crowds. Besides, I’d rather just enjoy this Pterodactyl burger with just you. It’s more romantic, you know?”
Stashing is nothing new and it’s likely happened to you, too. Now that I’m familiar with the term, I can say with confidence that I have been stashed on many occasions.
Take for example, a man I dated a few years ago – we’ll call him “Cross-Fit Guy.” We met online and the chemistry was instant on the first date. We drank wine at a cozy bar, talked about our lives and ended the night with an amazing goodnight makeout session. But after the first few exciting, steamy dates, the relationship seemed to stagnate.
If I look back on our time together, I think Cross-Fit Guy’s propensity for “stashing” (or as I described it back then, “compartmentalizing”) me was hugely to blame. Well, that and the fact that he seemed more interested in attending 6 a.m. Crossfit bootcamp sessions where 20 sweaty men push giant tractor tires around an abandoned warehouse than in sleeping over at my place – but, that’s another story.
Cross-Fit Guy wanted to let me into his life, but only up to a point. He was willing to hang out with me once a week and even invited me to push some tires around with him, but when it came to meeting any of his friends or family, that seemed inexplicably out of the question. It felt like he was actively trying to hide me and our relationship. After a few months of this pattern, I started to wonder whether the guy was married or hiding something big (in the witness protection program? Secretly living with his “mother” who is really just a skeleton sitting in a rocking chair? On a day pass from an insane asylum?) Whatever it was, I never got an answer and we ended up breaking things off for other reasons.
I later realized that one of the reasons I’d never met any of his friends was because he didn’t seem to really have any outside of the gym, which is a whole other issue altogether.
While I wish I could say this was the first and last time I was “stashed,” it wasn’t. Stashing happens and, while we can’t control the actions of the people we date, we can become more attune to the telltale signs of these kinds of behaviors.
Here are a couple of signs your date is trying to “stash” you.
- You’ve never met any of their friends or family and when you suggest that you’d like to, they get weird.
For those of you who are familiar with Sex and the City, the character of Mr. Big is a classic Stasher. While meeting someone’s family often takes some time to work up to, if someone sees a future with you, meeting a couple of their friends shouldn’t be that big a deal. They should want to introduce you to these people. In other words, you shouldn’t have to sneak into a church service a la Carrie Bradshaw to get a glimpse of your date’s mother.
- You get the impression that they’re always taking you to out of the way places where they’re unlikely to run into people they know.
Sure, they seem to have friends and a family, but they seem determined not to schedule any dates where you might run into any of these people, preferring instead to always Netflix and Chill or take you for “dinner” at that Szechuan Restaurant 30 miles out of town at two in the morning.
- It’s doing a number on your self-esteem.
The most toxic thing about “stashing” is that, after a while, you start to wonder if maybe the problem is you. Are you not good enough to introduce to their loved ones? But what I’ve learned about stashing is that it isn’t about you. “Stashing” is often done by people who are scared of commitment – period. Also, actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, if someone legitimately wants and is ready to have a relationship with you, they’ll want to introduce you to their favorite people.
So, how do we combat “stashing”? It starts by being really clear about your needs, both with yourself and the people you date. While casual dating can be a lot of fun, if you’re looking for something more serious, own it and have the courage to say #bye to the Stashers and any other situations that don’t meet your needs.