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‘Roaching’ May Be The Worst Dating Trend Yet — Here’s What To Know

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Dating — especially in 2021 and beyond — comes with a lot of potential disappointments: like realizing you’re not the only person your current love interest is seeing. Sure, you never explicitly had the convo about exclusivity, but you felt like this budding relationship was heading somewhere. And to find out that the person you’re envisioning a future with is still weighing their options can feel like a sucker punch. As it turns out, there’s a term for this dating trend: “roaching,” which stems from the fact that cockroaches often multiply in hiding. What is roaching? Well, have you ever turned on the lights in your apartment and been horrified to see a handful of roaches scamper across the floor? That dreadful, icky feeling that comes up is pretty common when you discover that your romantic partner is romancing a handful of other people behind your back. And I just happen to be an expert on it.

Roaching may be unavoidable in today’s commitment-phobic dating landscape, where more and more people are shunning labels in favor of casual understandings that allow them to see multiple people at once. But that doesn’t make it any less hurtful. The good news is, there are ways to recognize the signs of roaching so you can nip it in the bud before you get too emotionally invested. Here’s how to identify the red flags for roaching, and what to do about it.

What is roaching?

If you still haven’t defined the relationship yet, it probably already crossed your mind that your partner may have gone on dates with someone else. But what differentiates roaching from dating two people at the same time is that there are typically multiple other romantic pursuits going on. You might discover that they’re texting a handful of other guys, or that they’ve hooked up with dozens of other ladies while you’ve been together. Regardless, roaching is hiding the fact that you’ve been dating at least a few other people.

Signs of roaching

Keep a lookout for these warning signs that may indicate you’re the victim of roaching.

  • Your partner is still secretly using dating apps. You may know this because you caught them swiping after you left the room, your BFF spotted them on an app, or you noticed they updated some of the photos or info on their profiles.
  • They won’t firmly commit to plans. Hearing a lot of “maybes” lately when you suggest date ideas? Or, do they wait until the very last minute to confirm a date? That can happen when someone’s juggling multiple people at the same time.
  • They change plans a lot at the last minute. Unless they have a good excuse (for example, an unpredictable work schedule), flakiness is usually a big red flag in dating. And it could suggest roaching: someone who’s seeing a lot of people at once may be inclined to bail on plans when a “better” date opportunity presents itself.
  • They’re “stashing” you. If you still haven’t met their friends or family several months into dating, it’s time to start asking yourself why. Is it because they’re nervous, or slow to trust after a past betrayal? Or is it because they can’t introduce a partner to their inner circle when there are so many others?
  • They avoid defining the relationship. There are lots of reasons why someone might be apprehensive about committing 100% to someone. But the reality is, very often it’s because they want the freedom to see multiple people at a time. If your partner tends to dodge “the talk” or putting any label on things, you might consider asking them why.
  • They disappear for stretches of time. If the person you’re dating goes MIA for days at a time, and then randomly reappears whenever it’s convenient for them, that’s not only rude — it may also hint that they’re roaching. After all, it can be challenging to find time for so many men or women at once, and that can certainly impact their communication levels.

What to do if you’re being roached

Roaching sucks. There’s no denying that. But here’s the thing: unless you’ve had a direct conversation in which you both agreed to be exclusive, they’re *technically* not doing anything wrong. It’s common in those first few months of dating to keep your options open until you’re sure that you’ve found “The One” (or at least the one for right now). Still, if you find out they’re roaching and it bothers you, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself about how you feel, and then have a discussion to make sure you’re on the same page about where this relationship is headed.

As for how to bring it up — keep in mind that the last thing you want to do is attack a roacher. Accusing them of roaching right off the bat could put them on the defensive, and again, they didn’t necessarily break any rules if you didn’t have an understanding. Instead, you might say something along the lines of, “Hey, I know we never talked about seeing other people, so I understand you may have been dating around a little. I’ve reached a point where I’m not really interested in seeing other people anymore, how about you?” This gives them an opportunity to be forthcoming with you about their feelings. Be prepared for the possibility that they may say they’re not ready for exclusivity yet. At that point, you have two choices: you, too, can embrace the flexibility to date around — or you can cut your losses and look for someone who’s more eager for a commitment. Either way, you’ll probably want to have a talk about sexual health and safety if they’re hooking up with others.

There’s also a chance that they could flat out lie to you about seeing other people. In that case, if you know for a fact that they’re dating around but they won’t own up to it, I strongly suggest cutting ties and moving on. Dishonesty makes it very difficult to build a foundation of trust — and that’s basically the bedrock of a strong relationship. Besides, if they’re lying to you about roaching, you may find yourself constantly wondering what else they’re hiding from you down the line. And paranoia does not allow for a happy, healthy bond.

In some ways, roaching can be an inevitability in those earlier stages of dating. And sometimes, it’s simply a result of miscommunication. Maybe your partner didn’t realize how into them you were. Maybe they assumed you were dating and sleeping around, so they figured they should, too. That’s why it’s so important to have an open and honest conversation about where you stand. Because who knows? They may be overjoyed to leave their roaching ways behind, and focus on the connection they’re building with you. Either way, you have the right to know if you’re the only one or not.

Remember: A professional matchmaker with a high-quality client base can help you to dodge these disappointments. I conduct a thorough background check on all singles I work with, and that doesn’t just cover criminal activity. I also ensure that everyone I consider as a match is who they say they are and that they’re fully invested in the dating process to find “The One.” Roaching is just one of the many possible perils of modern dating, but the good news is, you don’t have to go it alone.