3 Ways to Detect a Roach in Your Dating Life

4 min read
Marcelo Matarrazzo / Unsplash

Marcelo Matarrazzo / Unsplash

“Roaching” is a term used to describe the act of concealing one’s involvement with multiple individuals from a new romantic partner. It’s not exactly cheating, but rather intentionally keeping your romantic life shrouded in secrecy.

Identifying roaching in a potential partner can be challenging, but there are warning signs. These include:

  • Secretive behavior. Your partner is hesitant to reveal details about their personal life, especially regarding other potential romantic interests.
  • Lack of commitment. They avoid discussions about exclusivity or commitment, leaving you in a state of uncertainty.
  • Inconsistent communication. They may disappear for extended periods of time, only to reappear with flimsy excuses.
  • Unexplained changes in plans. Sudden changes in plans or cancellations without clear reasons is also a red flag.
  • Mixed signals. You might feel like you’re hanging by a string, with your partner sending mixed messages about the nature of your relationship.

Roaching can harm one’s emotional well-being, erode trust, and cause psychological distress. It often leads to feelings of inadequacy, betrayal, and heartbreak, which can impede personal growth and future relationships.

It’s crucial to understand that roaching isn’t the fault of the person being roached. Rather, it’s a reflection of the roacher’s nature. Three motivations could explain this behavior in a partner.

1. Fear of Intimacy and Commitment

Roaching often stems from a fear of intimacy and commitment, wherein individuals are hesitant to become emotionally entangled or to shoulder the weight of vulnerability that comes with a committed relationship. This fear drives them to engage in roaching as a means to shield themselves from impending emotional challenges, maintaining a level of detachment while exploring multiple romantic options.

If you recognize this fear of intimacy and commitment in your own behavior, consider these healthier alternatives:

  • Try taking it slow. Allow your relationships to develop naturally by taking them at a comfortable pace. Research indicates that a slower relationship tempo leads to higher relationship quality. Avoid the pressure to rush into commitment and instead focus on gradually building trust and intimacy over time.
  • Embrace vulnerability. Instead of avoiding commitment, work on embracing emotional vulnerability. This involves addressing past traumas or attachment issues through therapy or self-reflection and learning to openly and honestly communicate with your partner about fears and insecurities.

2. A Desire for Diversity and Thrills

For some, roaching is fueled by a desire for variety and excitement in their romantic experiences. Some individuals perceive exclusivity as constraining and monotonous and, therefore, yearn for the novelty and thrill that come with multiple romantic options, as each might offer a unique romantic experience.

While this desire for adventure is natural, roaching can be deeply hurtful to the other person involved. Instead of roaching, consider exploring healthier alternatives:

  • Explore consensual non-monogamy. If you’re craving variety, ethical non-monogamy may be a viable alternative. Ethical non-monogamy allows for multiple partners but with clear communication, boundaries, and consent, ensuring that all parties are aware of and comfortable with the arrangement. Researchers find similar satisfaction levels for both monogamous and non-monogamous individuals.
  • Pursue new experiences together. Instead of seeking novelty outside of a committed relationship, couples can actively pursue new experiences and adventures together. This can keep the relationship exciting and fresh without compromising on trust and commitment.

3. Low Self-Esteem or Insecurity

Attachment insecurity and low self-esteem often drive individuals into multiple relationships, which can also explain roaching behavior, researchers have found. Such individuals use these relationships to bolster their self-worth, seeking validation and importance from various partners which temporarily alleviates their insecurities.

While this ensures a safety net of affection and attention, it also perpetuates emotional avoidance and prevents you from addressing underlying issues.

To address this, consider two healthier alternatives:

  • Build self-confidence. Invest time in building self-confidence through self-care, self-improvement, and self-compassion. Engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself or seek therapy to address underlying self-esteem issues and focus on personal growth.
  • Seek validation from within. Rather than seeking validation from multiple partners, work on finding validation and self-worth from within. Learn to appreciate your unique qualities and strengths without relying solely on external validation.


Understanding the motivations behind roaching in relationships is crucial for individuals engaged in this behavior and their potential partners. By recognizing the underlying reasons, individuals can work toward healthier bonds that promote trust, communication, and emotional well-being. It’s essential to prioritize honesty, self-growth, and healthy communication to build fulfilling and sustainable connections with others.

To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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