The dating world's newest term is something to watch out for.

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Dating in New York City — OK, really any city — is hard. Take it from a perpetually single 20-something at the helm of dating culture in the Big Apple ... in the middle of a pandemic.

Some dates go well, others are awkward. And on the off chance you hit it off with a date and begin seeing each other in more ways than one (if you know what I mean) there could be several other "yous" in the mix. Meaning, your new fling is sleeping around with other people that aren't you.

Sounds pretty sucky right? To make matters worse, it's common enough to have a name. Dating experts have coined this phenomenon with a word that's as gross as the concept may sound: roaching. (Yep, like the bugs.) Unfortunately in this situation, you can't just grab the Raid and spray away your problems. So read on to learn how to tell if you're being roached.

What Is Roaching?

So, you know how cockroaches may multiply in hiding (shivers)? Well, that's how roaching got its name, i.e. your partner may have many hidden sexual partners.

"Roaching is a dating term coined that refers to someone that is sleeping around with many," says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. She adds that even if you're aware of one other sexual partner, you could "realize there are, in fact, many."

"[The term] comes from the ickiness of seeing one of these nasty little bugs but knowing when you turn the lights on, there are lots of them," explains Trombetti. Um, gross.

How Do You Know When You're Being Roached?

The good news is, if you don't have your blinders on, there are some pretty clear indicators when you're being roached, from avoiding serious talks to keeping you at arm's length. So Trombetti broke down the tell-tale signs you're being roached, so you can recognize the little pest from miles away...

  • They don't make or keep plans. According to Trombetti, typically somebody who is roaching will wait for "better" plans to come along, say with someone else they're seeing or sleeping with.
  • They aren't looking to get serious. If they're avoiding "the talk" (you know the one that determines where the relationship is going) or don't talk about exclusivity at all, it probably means they're not looking to define the relationship. Trombetti says of course there's still hope that they could "fall for you," but be careful not to wait too long. If they continue to put off that talk, it may be time for you to dip.
  • They keep you at bay. Trombetti says if you start to feel "uneasy" because it seems like they're keeping you at arm's length, that may be because others are in the picture. "While they might like you a lot, they like lots of others, too," says Trombetti.
  • They flat out tell you they want to keep it casual. Even if it seems like more than a hookup or a friends with benefits situation, if the relationship isn't moving forward, then Trombetti guesses they're avoiding getting serious. Expressing their desire to 'keep it casual' is a clear sign that things aren't progressing and there are probably other people involved.
Roaching Is the Latest Dating Term You Need to Know
Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What to Do If You Are Being Roached

It's not the end of the world if you find out you're being roached. And it doesn't necessarily mean you have to write off this partner. If you haven't had the "exclusive" talk, they're not technically breaking any rules, says Trombetti. The problem becomes a red flag if they start being dishonest or hiding the situation.

"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, while this may be acceptable early on, by three months she suggests moving on if they haven't committed to you. (And if that's what you're looking for, of course!)

Of course, for your safety and health, it is important to discuss your partner's sexual health — and Trombetti says this is the perfect time to ask about any other partners. Director of Relationship Science at Hinge Logan Ury agrees, adding, "If either of you is sleeping with someone else, the other one deserves to know. That's especially true with COVID thrown in as an additional complicating factor."

Ury adds that even if you aren't there yet in terms of being exclusive, it's still important to gauge where you're both at and ensure you're on the same page. "Even if you're not concerned with putting a label on it yet, it's important to talk early on about where you are and where you're headed," she tells us. "If someone doesn't take you seriously as a potential partner, and that's what you're looking for, wouldn't you rather know that sooner than later?"

And if you think you're being roached, Ury stresses it's important to figure out what you want and deserve. "In order to make the right choice for yourself, you need the right information," she says. "And that starts with having a real conversation about what's going on."

Moral of the story, you can't entirely avoid roaching (in the same way you can't avoid the disgusting, pesky bug, no matter how clean or neat you are). It's something that comes along with the beginning stages of dating. But in the words of Olivia Rodrigo, "God it's brutal out here." So all you can do is be smart, know your boundaries, and get out when things don't seem right.