You’ve gone on what seem like a great few dates with someone and feel you made a real connection. Then, things go quiet for a couple of weeks and you don’t hear from them. Suddenly, out of the blue, they hit you up wanting to go out again. Another common scenario is, you’re dating someone who you seem to have a good time with, but they’re inconsistent and you hear from them infrequently. If you’ve found yourself in either of these situations, chances are, you’ve been benched.
What it is
Benching is a dating trend where the bencher leaves their options open by putting suitors on the sidelines. Basically, the person you’re interested in is seeing multiple people and if you’re not hearing from them frequently, that means you’re not in the starting lineup. Much like what a coach does to a player in a basketball game. The bencher wants to keep you as a backup option. So instead of cutting you from the team completely, they bench you while they see other people. Kind of like the episode “Hooked” in season five of How I Met Your Mother – just much less funny.
How to detect it
The million dollar question you’re likely asking yourself is, are you being benched? Inconsistent interaction is one of the biggest telltale signs. Not returning phone calls, or texts for days at a time, after previously being easy to get a hold of means the bencher is preoccupied with someone else. Repeatedly canceling plans at the last minute, or making vague plans is another tell. The truth is, if you’re getting mixed signals and you don’t know where the relationship stands, you’re not a priority for this person. Men’s Fitness added a few other signs you might want to check out just in case you’re unsure if you’re being benched or not.
The problem with benching is that it’s used to string people along, not completely cutting them off, but not interacting with them in a meaningful way either. It leaves people confused. And, just when you’ve decided you’ve had enough of the games, the bencher reels you back in by reaching out and showing a semblance of interest.
Why it’s lame
Benching is selfish and manipulative. The bencher is on the fence about the person they’re seeing, but instead of making a choice on who and what to pursue, they instead hit the person up just enough to keep them around as an option. It leaves the benchee in anguish, wondering what’s going on, questioning themselves, and feeling frustrated.
What to do about it
If you find yourself being benched, the best route is to be direct. Express what you’re looking for and ask the alleged bencher what they’re looking for, to make sure you’re on the same page. For example, if you’re looking for a casual dating situation where you see the person a few times a week and the bencher can’t commit to that, then you know it’s time to look elsewhere. You don’t have to wait for someone to make up their mind. Spend your time getting to know someone else who will treat you as a priority, not as one of various options.