You ever feel like your significant other treats you like an ultra low-rise pocketable phone from the 2000s? Cramped up in that tiny little space, desperate to peek out at least part of the time? Yeah...that's a pocketed partner for you.

We've all been there - those pangs of FOMO hitting hard as your boo's IG and Snap stories roll by full of friend hangs and wild nights out you somehow weren't invited to. Again. Or overhearing them get vague about mentioning you to coworkers or family, like you're some underground thing to be shoved back into their proverbial pockets.  

What is Pocketing in Dating?

Pocketing refers to the act of intentionally under involving or excluding your partner from sections of your social life and public persona. It's a way of containing the relationship to a limited sphere, as if tucking it away in your pocket whenever convenient.

For example, your significant other might seem excited and attentive when you're together one-on-one. But they make zero effort to ever genuinely introduce you to good friends or bring you around family members. Social media posts and stories consciously leave out any trace of your relationship's existence.

It's that eerie, alienating experience of having a seemingly caring partner who nonetheless meticulously compartmentalizes you away from many other aspects of their daily life and identity.

What is a Pocketed Partner?

A pocketed partner is someone on the receiving end of that treatment - deliberately left out of the loop, uninvited from social gatherings, and relegated to side-piece status when it comes to their significant other's public image and interactions. They're the one being treated like an object to pocket away when not in use.

Signs can include never meeting closest friends or family even after dating for months, having your presence concealed from social media platforms altogether, and feeling generally detached from major pieces of your partner's regular life and activities.

Even the most patient pocketed partner eventually starts to feel minimized, devalued, and hidden from view when that separatism becomes a consistent pattern.

Signs You're Being Pocketed

Here are some must-have items in the "Pocketed Partner" Starter Pack:

1. The "Maybe Next Time" Excuse

You can set your watch to the familiar refrain - "Maybe next time you can meet my friends!" or "Next family thing for sure, babe." Yet that elusive "next time" where you get looped into their inner circles never actually arrives.

Those promises to finally introduce you become just hollow platitudes used to placate your concerns about feeling so quarantined from their other important relationships. But those social circles remain a members-only area you're perpetually blocked from.

2. The Incognito Cloak  

While you two may share tons of cute, candid selfies on your own social feeds, good luck spotting even a single shred of evidence that you exist as a duo on their accounts. No couple shots, no flirty commentary - just a shtick of determined single-nationality projected online.

For someone obsessed with documenting every other mundane moment of their existence, this glaring omission screams of purposeful self-censorship about the reality of your relationship. Like they're cloaking your Connection with an Invisibility Cloak from the public eye.

3. The "Plus One Dilemma"

Ah yes, the brutal bait-and-switch of finally scoring an invite to hang with their friend group, only to show up and be treated like a total outsider nonetheless. Why even bother extending that olive branch of inclusivity if you were only ever meant to be the embarrassing Plus One?  

Invitations to bigger events like weddings, trips, and other group activities may as well come printed with "You're on the B-List" disclaimer. If you do get that rarity of a plus-one, it'll be with a *wink wink* caveat that you don't even have to use your dumb couple name for the RSVP.

4. The "Mystery Match" Status

When queried by nosy relatives about your partner's dating life, they go suspiciously mum, dodging any clear labels or specifics about the nature of your relationship. "Oh, you know how it is..." they trail off awkwardly.

While you two may define things a certain way in private, out in public you get downgraded to some vague, nebulous association. "Just friends," they may lamely insist to grandma. All of which only breeds more confusion and speculation around what you actually mean to each other for outsiders.

5. The "Radio Silence" Ringtone

While you sit around waiting for their call or response like a pocketed puppy, good luck actually connecting when they're out gallivanting with that same social life you're endlessly frozen out of.

Those nights of radio silence, those hours-long go-stretches between returned texts as you wonder just whose company is so much more entertaining than your own. If only you didn't have to play this endless game of toxic telephone with someone who'd rather leave you on was unattended.

6. The "Secret Handshake" (Humor)

And lastly, no "Pocketed Partner" Starter Pack would be complete without your own made-up, overly-complicated secret handshake or signal! Since you're such a sneaky hidden gem in their life, you may as well embrace it together with some sort of covert greeting, right? Anything to acknowledge how painfully clandestine this whole situation really is.

Feeling pocketed by your own partner just might be one of the most dehumanizing romantic realities to endure. No one deserves to be treated like a hidden minor appendage, shamefully shunted in life's shadows by someone who's meant to appreciate all your dimensions out in the open.

Why Would Someone Pocket a Relationship?

There can be a variety of factors and motivations behind the urge to pocket a romantic partner:

1. Commitment Issues

For some, pocketing serves as a way to keep their options conveniently open while still reaping the benefits of a committed partnership. By never fully integrating you into their whole life, they avoid accelerating deeper attachment before they're ready.

For example, they keep you siloed from family to avoid doubts or pressures about taking the next serious step. Or you don't get looped into friend groups in case they decide to explore greener romantic pastures soon.

2. Outside Judgments & Pressures

Maybe the partner doing the pocketing feels you don't align with certain expectations or ideals important people in their life have expressed about who they should date. Whether it's a cultural, racial, religious, or other divide, pocketing allows them to sidestep conflicts over that disparity for the time being.

Perhaps their parents would disapprove of you being outside their faith. Or their bros constantly joke about never settling down long-term. So they pocket you away from those judgment zones as an act of avoidance.

3. Maintaining Perception of Being Single

In other cases, the pocketing relates directly to public image and branding. From social media posturing to networking and career interests, some simply want to project an unmistakable aura of singlehood and sexual availability. So you get selectively squeezed out of any contexts feeding that perception.

Say your partner is an influencer or model - they may pocket you to preserve their highly curated, hyper-flirtatious Instagram brand that hinges on projecting bachelorhood. Or an entrepreneur might pocket an unconventional partner to avoid standing out too controversially within their professional circles.

While the exact motivations vary, the impact on pocketed partners is universally marginalizing. You start feeling like little more than a secret indiscretion - hidden in the shadows while they perform whichever single persona they want elsewhere. Not cool.

How to Escape Being Pocketed

1. Open Communication & Setting Boundaries

The only way to address the pocketing behavior is through open and honest communication with your partner. Voice your concerns about feeling excluded and minimized from their daily life. Explain how their actions make you feel undervalued and unseen as an equal partner.

During this conversation, clearly establish boundaries and expectations around being more integrated into their different social circles moving forward. Perhaps set a reasonable timeline for things like meeting friends and family or having your relationship socially acknowledged.

2. Know Your Worth & Don't Settle

Ultimately, you have to decide if the love is worth constantly being stashed away in the pockets of their life indefinitely. Don't settle for a relationship that doesn't offer the public acknowledgment, integration, and transparency you deserve as an equal partner.

Have enough self-worth to walk away if your partner continues treating you like a secret to be stuffed away despite you voicing your needs. You deserve to be with someone who enthusiastically celebrates and shares their world with you, not compartmentalizes you out of insecurity.

3. Considering Professional Help

If your partner seems open to working through this issue, seeking counsel from a couples therapist could provide an objective third-party perspective. A professional can help you both understand each other's motivations and mindsets while developing strategies to build trust and compromise.

Through therapy, you may uncover paths to overcoming the root causes driving the pocketing behavior, or realize the incompatibility runs too deep to resolve. But don't discount it as a potential resource on your journey to prioritize partnerships built on mutual openness.

Being a pocketed partner can overwhelm you with feelings of embarrassment, isolation, and constant rejection from the person who should be exhibiting nothing but pride over your coupledom. But you don't have to accept persistent marginalization as your romantic status quo.

Have the self-love to communicate your hurt over these exclusionary patterns. Insist on being brought forward as an integrated, celebrated partner - not just some secret-bound appendage only allowed out on the sly. And walk away from any situation that fundamentally refuses to grant you relational validity after you've had that honest dialog.

You deserve to exist permanently un-pocketed, unjudged, and forever prioritized by your person's undivided heart. Never settle for a love that politely needs to stuff you out of sight before making memories with anyone else.