Am I Being Pocketed?

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I have a friend with whom there’s a romantic history. In the beginning of COVID I was told we couldn’t get together in person because of safety concerns due to them focusing on their ex, who was diagnosed with a serious illness.

We continued talking and texting almost daily, me believing we were helping each other through a difficult time. Eventually I found out through a third party that my friend has been in a relationship and it is serious. It felt strange not knowing this, and I calmly confronted them about it.

It didn’t go well. They denied intentionally concealing this important aspect of their life and then suggested we go out for a drink! I can understand why a person would hide a former relationship from their current relationship, but this was vice versa. Why conceal a current relationship from another person, all while keeping up communication? What was the end game here? This person and I have a strong friend history so the behavior is particularly painful and disappointing.

I believe their actions were unkind to both me and their current partner, and I’m finding it difficult to move on emotionally because I’ve been trying to understand their motivation. Is this overlapping? Pocketing? The fadeout? Help!

– What’s Their Motivation


Oh dear, the terms. The dreaded dating terms!

Sometimes trendy terms are good because they help us communicate feelings. Often, though, they’re confusing – and reductive. A lot of people have written to Love Letters to say they’ve been “ghosted” when really they just had a quiet breakup, with both sides fading away over time. I hear about “love bombing” frequently – we did last month – but sometimes it’s just genuine excitement that fades.

For readers who don’t know, pocketing is when you keep someone in your pocket, so you don’t introduce them to family and friends. It’s a term used to describe significant others (like this former letter writer) who have felt hidden. Letter writer, you’re the ex, so that’s not you. Your friend’s significant other isn’t being pocketed either, I assume, because a third party knew about them.

What is happening here? It could be that your friend is having relationship issues you know nothing about. Perhaps they want to have that drink to catch you up on what you don’t know.

The most important thing here (for me, at least) is how you feel – and you’re upset. Can your friend understand that and apologize? Will they answer questions now? You can find out whether their partner knows about you. Be clear about what you need.

Also think about why this has upset you so much. It is disappointing, especially because it sounds like you do share a lot of history with this person. But is it possible you were also excited to rekindle the romance? The answer might be a big “no.” If you were seeking more (remember, you did mention “overlapping” …), it’s OK to be disappointed on top of everything else. Take space for that reason, if you need it.

– Meredith

Readers? Would you continue the friendship after finding out you weren’t being told about a serious romantic relationship?

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