You might have been ghosted, breadcrumbed, or paperclipped. But have you ever been stashed? Even if you haven’t heard the term, you might be familiar with the experience. “Stashing” is what you call it when you date someone who’s happy to spend time with you one-on-one — but they never introduce you to their friends or family. More often than not, their social media profiles don’t show any evidence that you exist. Used in a sentence, you’d tell your friend, “It’s been two months and I haven’t met a single one of his friends yet. I think he’s stashing me.”
Stashing is insidious because it’s pretty normal to focus on one-on-one time when you first start dating. Early on, you probably don’t think twice about this behaviour. But as time goes on, your partner’s excuses for keeping your relationship weirdly private start to get more far-fetched.
His parents are in town but they’re too busy to see you because they’ve… got to go shopping. You can’t meet her friends because she doesn’t have a plus one… to happy hour. When you post a cute photo of the pair of you to your main Instagram grid, they simply share an Instagram Story that shows the bottle of wine you’re sharing… and they tag their local wine shop, but not you.
We have writer Ellen Scott to thank for coining this oh-so-useful dating term back in 2017. Her definition: “Stashing is a super fun dating trend in which someone is dating someone else, but has decided to hide them away from everyone in their life… A victim of stashing is hidden from every other part of the stasher’s life — from their tagged photos to their casual chats with their parents. Why? Because that way, they’re able to pretend that they’re not really dating the person they’re stashing, meaning they can justify getting with other people, doing whatever they fancy, and being generally inconsiderate and awful.”
The term clearly resonated, because it was quickly covered by Cosmopolitan, the New York Post, and even the Today Show. And today, the behaviour, if not the word, is getting new attention thanks to a TikTok trend. In it, people lip sync to a 2016 parody song by comedy rap duo Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson, “ Questions Part 3,” while scrolling through an Instagram feed (often a celebrity’s, but sometimes someone they’re actually involved with).
The song begins: “I just think it’s funny, we’ve been talking for so long but no one knows I exist / I was scrolling through your IG, why we ain’t got no pics / You tryna keep us a secret, why you ain’t posting me? / Oh I get it, you don’t want your other hoes to see.” Sounds like stashing, all right.
While being stashed can make you suspect your partner is dating other people and trying to keep you in the dark, it is possible something less nefarious is going on. Maybe your partner just moved to your city and they don’t have many friends or family nearby to introduce you to in the first place.
Still, if you think you’re being “stashed” and it bothers you, ask your partner about it. Say something like, “I’d love to meet your friends,” and see how they respond. Think of it as something like the define the relationship talk. While it’s probably nerve-wracking to have the conversation, in the end, at least you’ll know where you stand. And if that doesn’t work, you can always make a TikTok about it.
Originally published at https://www.refinery29.com.