Just when you thought you knew all the modern dating terms another one comes along – bench dating. You might even think to yourself that you don’t need to know another one.
After all, you’ve heard of ghosting, breadcrumbing, zombieing and cuffing. What possible benefit is it to you to understand the latest ridiculous modern dating craze?
Well, I always go to that very old but wise saying ‘Knowledge is Power’.
Benching in dating is easier to understand when you think where the phrase comes from. ‘Putting someone on the bench’ in sporting terms means that this person is not good enough to play the match. So they are ‘benched’ until they run out of good players.
Perhaps one of them is injured or sent off. Only then do the benched players get a chance to participate. By the way, you are the benched player and the match is your dating partner.
So why should you learn about yet another dating term?
It is much easier to understand the actions of one person through a basic concept. Knowing that there are clear signs of behaviour and that this is an actual phenomenon that takes the pressure off you.
You may have been wondering why someone has been acting a certain way. You might have blamed yourself or thought that you were not good enough. It can even affect your sense of self-worth.
It is important to recognise that there are certain patterns of behaviour associated with benching. This allows you greater insight into the agenda and motivations of the person you are dating.
Otherwise, none of your needs or wishes is being taken into consideration. You are being used by the person who is benching you for their gratification. I don’t know about you but that doesn't sound like any dating experience I’d like to get involved in.
So let’s get down to the details. How do you tell if a guy is benching you?
Everyone has periods in their life where they are busy and it is difficult to see each other. Whether it is work, family or perhaps social commitments. The world is getting a busier place. How many articles have been written encouraging us to find a good work/life balance?
So we already know it is normal to be busy. But the person that is too busy for a relationship shouldn’t keep someone hanging on in the background. They should be honest and say ‘Hey, you know what? I just don’t have time to commit right now.’
Isn’t it lovely when you get that late-night text from your guy saying ‘Nite hun xxx’? It is an indication that you are the last thing he’s thinking of before he goes to sleep.
But if you only communicate at odd times there’s something fishy going on. This suggests he has another girlfriend or he is out partying during ‘normal’ text times. It’s when he’s bored or lonely or he’s not with someone else that he thinks of you.
One minute this guy is all over you like a rash, then next all you are getting is one-word answers. You wonder what you’ve done. But it’s nothing you’ve done.
They just ran out of people to chat up or fill in a dull couple of hours so they thought of you. Flattering isn’t it to think of it in those terms?
When you start talking to a new person that is interested in you it is natural for them to want to keep in touch. So what’s with the disappearing act every now and then?
If a person really likes you they won’t contemplate the chance that you’ll forget about them or move on. They’ll want to be at the forefront of your mind. Going MIA for days or weeks is a sign of benching.
It is one thing to disappear and ghost you, but it’s a totally different ball game to then suddenly reappear as if nothing has happened. You could describe this as a form of gaslighting.
They are making you feel as if this should be normal and accepted behaviour. In other words, your feelings don’t count. You should wait around for them until they decide to contact you.
When someone is subject to benching in dating, it is very difficult for them to know exactly where they stand. The combination of hot and cold behaviour, disappearing acts, etc.
The thing is, you might really like this person, so you hang in the dating world hoping that their behaviour will change. But that’s exactly what they are doing to you – keeping you hanging until someone better comes along.
It is certainly frustrating when a person doesn’t answer your texts. But this frustration goes up a notch when you see that person online. So you know they are on their phone and everything is fine.
They are just choosing not to speak to you. You wonder what you could have done to upset them. Of course, it’s nothing you’ve done. They are busy pursuing those girls they think are better than you. But hey, if none of them pans out they’ll be in touch.
Benchers like to keep all their options open. It’s a little like choosing which party to go to. They’ll wait until they know who has the best DJ, the most impressive venue and the most photographed A-listers.
Then they will make a decision. It’s the same with people. Who do they like the most? They will have a list in order of their preferences and you are the backup, the fall girl in case any of the others don’t work out.
One thing a guy who is playing the dating game and is benching you hates is to have no date at all. But he doesn’t care about making and breaking promises. So he will quite happily arrange a weekend away with you but keep that in his back pocket until something better comes along.
When it does he will just tell you that something came up. It won’t bother him that you have made plans and maybe put off seeing other people. So long as his dating calendar is full that’s all he cares about.
With modern technology, we can all see when a text message has been delivered and read. So it is incredibly confusing when you know for a fact that one person has received your message but is simply not replying to you.
Someone who is benching while dating will always read the messages you send to them. Why? Because they don’t want to miss out on anything in the dating world. They are still keeping tabs on you, they’re just not taking any action.
Talking of action, do you find that your date is always talking a good fight but never seems to step into the ring? He may talk in a vague and roundabout way that gets you thinking but he hasn’t actually promised anything solid.
Maybe he has spoken about spending the holidays with you and your folks, then the holidays came around and he didn’t mention it again. Or perhaps he chatted about the two of you heading off for a romantic weekend. But again, it never materialised.
A good relationship relies on open and honest dialogue with each other. Communication is key. Being able to discuss problems and share your feelings for example. You, on the other hand, are holding back because you have this feeling that the moment you get a little bit serious he will back off completely.
That’s no way to conduct a relationship. Potential partners should be supportive and encouraging. They allow you to blossom and give you the confidence to be the best that you can be. What does it say about him if you can’t even talk to him properly?
So you decide for yourself that you deserve better and you stop texting and you don’t try and get hold of this guy. Then all of sudden he reappears and is full of apologies and starts acting like he did at the start.
Maybe you should give him a second chance? After all, he seems to be genuinely remorseful for the way he treated you. Let’s get one thing straight here. People like this are not sorry, they might get a bit anxious that you were getting fed up with them. They can’t allow that to happen because they need someone on the back burner at all times.
Relationships are organic things. They tend to take on a life of their own. They progress into something more serious or they’ll fizzle out. But one thing they don’t do is remain static.
If you find that after months or years you are still waiting on a text or a call or your guy disappears for weeks, it’s time to consider the fact that he might be benching you for someone better.
The final and most obvious sign of benching in dating is whether people are aware of you. Is there one person in his life that knows you exist?
If they don’t this is a huge red flag. When we are excited about someone new we want the whole world to know about it. We seek approval from our closest family members. We want to know what our friends think. We need to show off our new love.
Look for patterns in behaviour. We all get busy from time to time and we can all miss a text or be late in replying to a phone call. But constant disappearing then suddenly popping up without explanation? Never agree to meet up until the last moment? Going hot and cold all the time? These are not good signs.
A zombie in real life is someone that comes back from the dead. In dating terms, it is an ex-partner who previously ghosted you and now has got back in touch. The person who is zombieing might use social media or a text message to see whether you are open to communication.
Benching on Tinder is where a person is put on the backburner as a kind of standby date if they can’t do any better. It’s a little like having a backup in case things don’t go to plan with your first few choices of dates.
Signs of ghosting begin with less and less communication or shorter text messages. He will not reply as much or ignore your messages altogether. He’ll forget dates or stand you up. He becomes super-busy for you, yet when you look at his social media, he is out with his friends.
Check his social media and see whether he is posting a lot of social activities. If you share some mutual friends you can ask them whether they’ve noticed an increase in his workload. A guy is definitely ignoring you if you’ve made plans to meet and they don’t reply to confirm them.
Benching is dating is a cowardly way of keeping a person on ice in case someone better comes along. If you can recognise any of the above signs you could be a victim of benching. Remember, you don’t have to put up with this sort of behaviour.
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