Everything’s going brilliantly.
You’ve been seeing each other for months. The dates are fun, the sex is fine. You tell each other everything and spend every other night together. But slowly, it sneaks up on you.
First you notice that while they’ve met your mum, brother, and been on a night out with your best mates from uni, you’ve yet to meet a single person in their life. You’ve never been introduced to their parents. You’ve never been to any kind of gathering with anyone from their social circle.
Come to think of it, while they’ve showed up on your Instagram feed and you tag them on Twitter, they’re yet to share any indication that you’re hanging out together. They’ll ‘gram a picture of the delicious meal you brought them to try, but you’ll be mysteriously absent from the table.
You overhear them on the phone to someone, describing their day, and notice your name hasn’t been mentioned once. You, my friend, are being stashed.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
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. Yes, we’re the ones who’ve just come up with a name for it, but it’s a thing that’s happening to people from all corners of the world of dating.
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.
You’re in a relationship or dating in all other senses, but by refusing to acknowledge your existence publicly, or to other people in their life, the stasher is able to tell themselves that you’re not actually together, so they’re perfectly entitled to treat you poorly. When questioned, a stasher will make you feel like you’re being nuts.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
They’ll say you’re exaggerating the issue, noting that they’ve hardly spoken to their parents and you simply haven’t come up. They’ll question why you’re so bothered about not being featured on their social media – because what should really matter is what’s going on between the two of you, not documenting your relationship online. They’ll tell you that it’s their friends they’re ashamed of, who aren’t worth meeting. But as the stashing goes on, you start to feel pretty rubbish.
You know when someone hurriedly tidies their room and shoves a jumble of stuff in a cupboard so it’s not on show, so they don’t have to think about it until later? When you’re being stashed, you’re that jumble of stuff. And that doesn’t exactly make you feel valued or respected.
Over time, you’ll wonder if the stasher is embarrassed about being seen with you. You’ll consider that they may be living a second life with a wife and kids. You’ll feel like they’re hiding something – and then realise that something is you. Being stashed leaves your self-worth in tatters. You don’t leave, though, because aside from all of that stuff, everything’s lovely.
When it’s just you two it’s great, so how can you kick up a fuss? There are only two ways to get out of the horror show that is stashing. First off, you can bring up the issues with the stasher, explain how you’re feeling, and ask if they’d be up for making a tiny bit more of a show that you’re together.
If they offer a valid explanation of what’s going on (maybe their parents are really against sex before marriage) or say yes – and actually do it – great.
(Picture : Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
If not, you’re on to option two: dump ’em. Get out now, just as you’re sinking into a pattern of being hidden and accepting it. Leave and be on your own for a bit, or find someone who shows they’re proud to be with you. You don’t deserve to be stashed away. You’re brilliant. You should be shown off by someone who’s excited to let everyone know they get to be with you. Know that, and don’t let yourself be shoved in a cupboard.* *Metaphorically or literally.
*The article by Ellen Scott first appeared in The Metro