Is it bad to be secretive about your relationship?
The early stages of a new relationship can feel like the best, but also the most complicated.
Of course, there are the butterflies, the first-time experiences and the joy in getting to know someone on a deeper level. But there’s equally a lot of pressure, particularly when it comes to how and when to integrate into someone else’s life.
When should you meet their friends for the first time? Is it too early to introduce them to your parents? Are you spending too much time together and should take some space, or does it actually feel like there’s too much distance for the supposed ‘honeymoon’ period?
It’s important to take things at your own pace and ignore arbitrary milestones. But if you’re in a new relationship and are concerned that you’ve yet to be introduced to other people in your partner’s life, should you be worried?
Not necessarily, but it could be a sign that you’re being ‘stashed’.
‘Stashing’ happens when one person in a relationship makes the conscious decision of keeping their partner from their inner circle and can range from a hesitancy to introduce you to their friends and family, to avoiding making the relationship known on social media.
The term was coined back in 2017 by Metro UK writer Ellen Scott, but has gradually come back into our conscious over the past few years. As we’ve edged out of lockdown and regular social contact has resumed, it’s become glaringly obvious that lockdown wasn’t entirely to blame for some people being kept out of the social spotlight by their partner.
In modern dating, being negged, bread-crumbed or orbited is generally considered a giant red flag. But does stashing necessarily indicate that there’s something wrong in the relationship? After all, couldn’t some people genuinely just be more private than others?
“Are they hiding something from you? If you were looking for a meaningful relationship with this person, is there much prospect if they won’t include you in their life?”
However, the reasoning may also not be quite as sinister. “They may actually be afraid of specific friends or family members,” suggests Garbutt.
It’s important to remember that it’s probably just as nerve-racking for them to introduce you to their family as it is for you to meet them.
“If this is the case, you have to ask yourself whether you want to be in a relationship with somebody in this situation,” suggests Garbutt.
Everyone has a different relationship with their family and friends, and it’s important to respect any boundaries or privacy that your partner may want to keep. However, you need to be honest about what you expect from the relationship and communicate those needs.
If a lot of involvement in their life is a deal-breaker for you, you’ll either have to come to a compromise or walk away.
“Remember that your relationship is not a project and a partner is not somebody to be rescued. If you’re looking for something rich and fulfilling, you might need to find somebody you can depend on more,” Garbutt concludes.
“If there are too many complications to overcome, they might just not be the one for you.”