We all know that dating is really hard. But what happens when you start dating someone casually, and you become intimate with them despite not being exclusive? Chances are they might be sleeping with other people (you could be as well). After all, unless you are in a committed relationship, everyone is entitled to do what they want with their bodies. But now, professionals have a new term for this phenomenon: roaching.
Roaching is best described as your partner hiding other sexual partners. You know, like how roaches multiply in hiding. The term comes from the gross feeling of seeing a roach and knowing others are yet to be found.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a situation where you can use a repellant to shoo them away. Whether you’re aware of other partners or not, you still could be blindsided by just how many others there could actually be. Regardless, finding out about other sexual partners can make you feel sick — just like discovering roaches in your house would.
It’s like this: You’ve let this person into your home, your safe space, and they’ve created a dirty, toxic environment. Whether they’ve broken your trust or not, they disgust you and make you feel unsafe. Let’s be real: These roaches are putting your sexual health at risk, and that’s not cool!
While you may not have clear indicators when you’re being roached, some tell-tale signs can help you identify if it’s happening to you.
1. They don’t make or keep plans.
If they are waiting for better plans to come around — AKA someone else they want to hook up with instead of you — you might be getting roached. If they keep blowing you off or can’t commit to a date with you, you need to leave that situation. You’re definitely experiencing roaching.
2. They aren’t looking to get serious.
They avoid “the talk” or don’t want to progress your relationship even to an exclusive label. If they don’t want to define your relationship, they want their freedom to bounce from bed to bed. So don’t waste your time waiting.
3. They keep you at bay.
If you start feeling uneasy because you feel like you’re constantly at arm’s length, it may be because other people are still in the picture. Think about it: If they let you or any other person they’re sleeping with too close to them, it throws off their balance.
4. They keep reiterating that they want to keep it casual.
Even if you feel like you are more than a hookup or friends with benefits, they still might want to stay casual. If the relationship isn’t progressing, you are nothing more than a fling. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. If they’re insisting on keeping it casual, they’re still prioritizing other people.
While finding out you’re being roached might feel like the end of the world, it doesn’t mean you have to write that person off entirely. The big problem here is that they’re hiding it. If you find yourself being love-bombed and gaslighted, chances are you’re also being roached and manipulated. But if you know they’re sleeping with someone else, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with doing.
Let’s be honest: It’s common at the beginning of a new relationship to run the risk of being roached.
After all, it’s hard to decide to be exclusive early on. They might be seeing others as may you — you can almost guarantee it. But if it happens three months later, and they haven’t committed or changed their stance, it isn’t worth staying — especially if you have genuine feelings for this person.
Remember that your safety and health are always important to discuss with your partner and should be a big priority in your life. Whether it’s running the risk of potentially contracting an STI or even COVID-19, both parties deserve to know if the other is sleeping with someone else, especially if it’s unprotected. After all, roaching is never okay.
And if it makes you extremely disgusted to know this roach has been hiding in other people’s dark, dirty tunnels, get tested. There’s no shame in protecting yourself and giving yourself peace of mind. Your broken heart can heal, but not all STIs can.