The 'Roaching' Dating Trend That Just Won't Die

With the state of dating today, some of us may be longing for the simpler days of dating. It's true that dating has changed through history, with courting being replaced with the "talking stage" and dating apps taking over the traditional blind date. Predictions about the future of dating have us wondering where these trends will head next. Some celebrities and everyday people are embracing the idea of being "consciously single," with the COVID-19 pandemic inspiring many to focus on themselves instead of finding a partner. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more people are remaining consciously single and being more mindful and intentional about how they approach dating," Naomi Walkland, head of Bumble UK and Ireland, told Stylist.

But some of us are so done with being single. The dating world — both virtually and in-person — has lots of obstacles lined up before us. We all know the fear of being ghosted. However, another awful dating trend has gained traction, and we just can't shake it off.

Roaching – the worst dating trend yet

Roaching is, for sure, a relationship red flag you should never ignore. But what is it? The term roaching appears to have been coined by AskMen in 2017. Taking inspiration from how seeing one cockroach indicates plenty more are lurking around, this trend refers to people who hide that they are seeing or sleeping with multiple people. "Roaching is a dating term coined that refers to someone that is sleeping around with many," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, told InStyle. "[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."

Although you have been led to believe that you two are exclusive, your partner has hidden the fact that they are sexually engaged with others. At first, you may discover just one other person with whom your partner is having sex, but later find out there have been many more.

Even if you haven't yet had the dreaded DTR conversation, roaching is still a hurtful — and dangerous — habit. If you are looking for a polyamorous or non-monogamous arrangement or multiple casual relationships, you need to share that expectation with your partner.

Why roaching can be extra harmful

Your feelings aren't the only things at risk when it comes to roaching. Roaching is especially toxic when it comes to sexual health and can pose issues to your partner – or partners, plural. Hiding the fact that you are sleeping with multiple people doesn't just make you a jerk. This behavior can lead to the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases and infections since they can often go unnoticed, and you might not even know you have one.

An extra safeguard for your sexual health is to bring up your STD status before you have sex with a partner. If you suspect your partner is roaching you, this is a conversation you especially want to have. And if you want to have multiple casual relationships, be upfront with your partners. "Poly[amorous] relationships require agreement and understanding about the 'many love' aspect," said sex therapist David Orttman said to AskMen. "Any relationship requires communication and honesty, but triple this for polyamorous ones."

If you discover your partner has cheated on you, it's important to go to a doctor and get tested for STDs. The same rule applies for roaching. Even if you haven't defined the relationship, you deserve to be with someone who prioritizes and respects your sexual health.

How to know you're being roached

With the heartbreak and sexual health risks involved with roaching, you'll want to be aware of the signs. Someone who won't commit to plans or constantly flakes could be roaching you. If your partner refuses to have the DTR conversation, that could be another warning sign — especially if talks about exclusivity are off the table.

Blatant dishonesty and nonverbal cues are helpful for determining if someone has been roaching you, as well. "Look for giveaway body language that they're telling lies or avoiding telling the whole truth," therapist Sally Baker told "Most people are uncomfortable telling lies, so they will subconsciously give clues either verbally or physically that they're not being transparent or completely honest."

Another common sign of roaching is emotional distance between you and your partner. If your partner never wants to answer more personal questions about their childhood, family, friends, or career, they could be having dates — and potentially sleeping with — other people. That doesn't mean they don't have feelings for you, but they could be giving attention to lots of other people, too.

What to do if you're being roached

If you discover that you're being roached, you're probably rightfully upset. It's time to have an honest conversation with your partner and see how to move forward from there. "In order to make the right choice for yourself, you need the right information," Logan Ury, the Director of Relationship Science at Hinge, said to InStyle. "And that starts with having a real conversation about what's going on."

This could be the time to have the DTR conversation and determine if this relationship is worth pursuing. "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," Ury continued. "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?" 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with breaking off from this person, too, especially if they have put your feelings, trust, and sexual health at risk. From there, you would be wise to head to the doctor for an STD screening, just like you would if you had been cheated on. Remember: there is no shame in looking after your sexual well-being.

Can a relationship survive being roached?

Your relationship does not have to be over if you have been roached. At early points in a relationship — especially before you and your partner have DTR'd — the two of you may be unclear about what the other wants. If you still want to be with this person but don't want your relationship to get too serious too soon, that's okay. Be clear on your expectations, practice safe sex, and get regular STD testing.

Others who have been roached may not want to end the relationship, but they may not be comfortable with non-monogamy, either. If this is the case, you should talk about exclusivity candidly and clearly understand the terms of your relationship. "If you feel yourself falling for your partner... and want to make your relationship official by being exclusive, you need them to be on the same page," therapist Sally Baker told Roaching may not be going away anytime soon, but these best practices will help protect both your heart and your health.