When you see one cockroach, that means there are likely hundreds more nearby and out of sight. Happening upon one (or several) can be alarming, terrifying, and downright gross.
As if these creepy critters weren’t enough, there’s a new roach to worry about. Roaching is a new name for a dating trend that’s been around for a while.
So, check your metaphorical cupboards and crannies—are you getting roached?
What Is ‘Roaching?’
When I first heard about roaching, I thought it sounded like a spine-chilling, stomach-turning Fear Factor challenge. But like its six-legged namesake, roaching is far more common than we’d like to think.
“Roaching is a dating term coined that refers to someone that is sleeping around with many,” Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, told InStyle.
“The term comes from the ickiness of seeing one of these nasty little bugs but knowing that when you turn the lights on, there are lots of them.”
“You may have seen just this person. But their hurtful behavior was hiding a number of other confidants, crushes, dates, flirtations, hookups, and maybe even relationships from you,” AskMen explains.
Like regular roaches, it can be tricky to spot an infestation—until you learn to read these signs.
Signs You Are Being Roched
They Never Talk About Getting Serious
Casual dating can be fun, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if that’s your style! But if you’re pursuing any relationship—casual, serious, sexual, asexual—communication is key.
Does your partner clam up at the word “commitment”? Maybe they shrug off your questions, citing “they don’t want to ruin things by taking it too seriously.” Whenever conversation gets heavy, do they disappear?
An inability to talk about exclusivity or relationship status is a huge red flag. Some people need more time, but no one has the right to take forever.
If they’re keeping you at arm’s length, then it might be time to give them that extra push out the door.
They’re Overprotective Of Their Social Media And Phone
Nobody is entitled to anyone’s personal property just because they’re casually dating. But abnormally protective behavior over their social media, personal info, and phone can be a sign of roaching.
Do they never leave you alone with their phone? Do they guard their passcode? If they have social media, do they explicitly hide it from you or ask you not to follow them?
Are they constantly texting other people when you’re together? Do they hide notifications? Perhaps most tellingly, are they still getting on dating sites?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then there’s a chance your partner has something to hide.
They Don’t Make Or Keep Plans
Are you always the one arranging meeting times? Do your hook-ups and dates constantly have to align with their schedule? Do they insist on meeting at your place, never theirs?
Roaches are flaky for multiple reasons. One, they might be waiting to see one of their other hook-ups before they confirm plans with you. (Only ever finalizing plans at the last minute is a great example.)
Two, these roaches could be having trouble hiding all of their connections. Roaches would never want two hook-ups to run into each other—especially not with the roach present.
Instead, they flake, cancel, reschedule, relocate, and deflect.
What’s The Difference Between Roaching And Regular Dating?
Again, casual dating isn’t bad, nor is polyamory. What makes a roach so, well, roach-like is deception. Just like the bugs, roaches like to live (and keep everyone in) the dark.
“In the beginning of a relationship, daters always run the risk of being roached,” Trombetti explains. “There is this gray period where it’s too new to be exclusive, and your new love interest may be seeing others. It’s almost to be expected.”
However, if you find yourself in that gray area months later, then you might be dealing with a roach infestation.
“If things aren’t clearly defined yet, the responsibility is always on the person seeing more than one person to make that clear,” AskMen says. “Not just for sexual reasons but also simply out of common courtesy.”
“If they’re roaching you—that is, going on dates, hooking up with people—that’s cutting into their schedule. That’s time they can’t spend with you. If they’re establishing a pattern of consistently not telling you about those things, it can quickly feel less like a coincidence and more like an intentional plan to keep you in the dark.”
What To Do If You’ve Been Roached
Cockroaches can carry bacteria, fungi, and viruses from hiding spot to hiding spot. Dating roaches can, too.
Sure, this can mean your run-of-the-mill STDs and STIs. But we’re also in the middle of a global pandemic. Hiding connections and social interactions in the age of COVID-19 is especially harmful and irresponsible.
The only way to weed out the roaches is to sit down and have the infamous “DTR” talk. “Defining the relationship” can be awkward, feelings can get hurt, and it’s admittedly not as much fun as a spontaneous date night.
But cockroaches won’t go away just because you will them to do so, and neither will that roach you matched with on Tinder two months ago.