It can be tough at first to know whether or not your guy is in it for the long haul, but there are some sure-fire signs to look for along the way that help you get a sense of his priorities. If you’ve been together for a while and he won’t introduce you to his friends and family, it’s obvious he isn’t serious about you. Here’s why this happens and what to do before saying goodbye.
What to know about why he’s keeping you and his family and friends separate
It’s a trend known as “pocketing.” This term may be new but the trend has been around for a while. As psychologist and life coach Ana Jovanovic explains, it’s all about keeping you out of sight. “Pocketing is a situation where a person you’re dating avoids or hesitates to introduce you to their friends, family or other people they know, in-person or on social media, even though you’ve been going out for a while. Your relationship seems non-existent to the public eye,” she says. Of course, there are a variety of reasons why this happens.
He doesn’t want you to know the real him. It’s possible that he introduced himself as some larger-than-life character who’s incredibly successful and charismatic but the real him is not quite on that level. If he does introduce you to his family and friends, that image will crumble. “Once the person they are dating meets the friends and family, the facade they worked hard to build will collapse and leave the other person disappointed,” says Jovanovic. “By not introducing the person they’re dating to others, they are protecting the fragile image of themselves that attracted the person in the first place.”
Maybe he’s embarrassed about his family and the people he hangs around with. While this should never be the case, it’s possible that he worries about what you might think of where he comes from and who he’s close to, especially if he has you on a pedestal. As Jovanovic points out: “This is especially true in cases where there is an educational gap or big socio-economic or cultural differences.”
He’s not really sure how he feels about you. This is the most common reason a guy avoids bringing you into the fold, so to speak. Given the significance of the event, its absence speaks volumes too. As Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, tells Elite Daily: “It lets you know that they like you enough or are serious enough about you to introduce you to their friends. An introduction also gives you more insight into who they are and who they interact with. It’s so interesting to see all the different characteristics that are brought out by each of their friends.”
He’s not looking for anything serious. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he likes you a lot but just isn’t in the place where he wants a serious relationship. And because he doesn’t necessarily plan on having you in his life long-term, he doesn’t see the point in introducing you to the people who will be there. This is also his way of keeping some distance between you so that things don’t get too serious or too heavy between you.
What to do when he won’t introduce you to his family and friends
Consider the timing. While it’s one thing to avoid mixing you into his family and friend group when you’ve been dating for months, it’s an entirely different thing if it’s only been a couple of weeks and he’s been open about his feelings on the matter. “When you are focused on building a relationship with a new partner, your intention is usually to wait until you know the person well enough on an individual basis, and like them enough to decide you want to bring this person into your social and familial life,” says clinical social worker Rachel Perlstein. “Pacing and awaiting the right time to offer an introduction is truly about bringing you and partner closer. Pocketing comes with the intention of hiding away the person you’re dating. Oftentimes the pocketer does not want their partner to meet friends and family; it’s a way of creating space and distance in the relationship.”
Pay attention to the stories he tells about the people in his life. They say a guy will treat you the way he treats his mom, sisters, or female friends. Therefore, the way he talks about the women (and men) in his life is going to give you an inside look into how he views relationships, friendships, and human interaction. If he talks lovingly about his family and friends then he might just be wary of introducing you because they didn’t like his last girl. But if crap is all he can talk about the important people in his life, dodge the bullet before you become one of them.
Ask questions and notice his responses. A genuine guy who sees a future with you will be thrilled that you’ve taken an interest in his life and his social circle. He’ll enjoy talking about them, tell you funny stories and start to paint a picture of what the different personalities are like. If he’s unwilling to give you any details, it either means he isn’t interested in sharing with you or he’s exaggerating the relationships, neither of which is a good sign.
Subtly suggest that you’d be open to meeting his crew. Not right away of course, but after a few months or so, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning that you’d love to tag along to the next event or hang out. You don’t want to insert yourself into his life uninvited, and it might be awkward at first, but it should mean a lot to him that you’re willing to try. If he’s completely opposed to the idea, you have to wonder what he’s hiding.
Include him in your plans to show that you’re willing to take that step. If he’s not making it seem like he’s willing to bring you into his world, make sure he knows that you’re ready to go there with your friends and family. That way, if his second-guessing is coming from a place of uncertainty about being on the same page, it’ll be clear that you’re having those thoughts too. But be careful, because if he IS happy to meet your family but is still uninterested in you meeting his, something isn’t right.
If he panics, don’t brush it off. If his first reaction when you say you’re comfortable meeting the people in his life is to freak out, don’t convince yourself that he’ll come around. No one should be that terrified at the idea of the person they’re dating meeting their friends and family. In fact, most people want to introduce a significant other to the group to see how they do in the hot seat and see if there’s a place for them in the dynamic.
See if he’ll talk about his hesitation. If you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, you can try asking him why he doesn’t feel ready. Maybe there’s a reason he’s nervous or a circumstance you aren’t aware of. It’s okay to give him a chance to explain, just make sure you know how to spot something valid vs. an excuse that’s total BS.
Find out what he is and isn’t telling people. You have every right to ask the person you’re with if their friends and family know you exist. If they don’t, then that’s the biggest red flag of them all, and no wonder he doesn’t want to bring you around! If he has no issues talking about you and is just waiting a little longer, then it might be understandable.
Know when to give up. Beating a dead horse is pointless. If he outright refuses to introduce you to anyone in his life, you aren’t going to change his mind by begging. He’s only going to resent you for pushing him too early and you’re going to be pissed that he doesn’t want to show you off or let you in. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to force him to invite you.
You deserve someone who wants to share their world with you. A genuine man who’s ready to fall in love is going to be excited to let you into his circles. He’ll know that the second you make the rounds, every person he knows will fall in love with you too, which will only make him even crazier about you. Don’t settle for the guy who doesn’t seem to care whether or not you stay on the outside. Before you decide that you want someone in your life, make sure he wants you in his.
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