There are so many terms in the dating world that keep being invented to explain all of the complicated emotions, mind games, and motives in relationships. Terms such as ghosting, tuning, and DTR. But a recent term has popped up to describe something relatively devious, and it’s called benching.
It’s more common than you would think, and we’ve all at some point been benched or benched someone else, whether or not we realize it. But what is benching, and how do you know whether or not it’s happening to you?
What is benching?
Benching is a way of someone keeping you in a state of limbo, until they decide whether or not they’re truly interested in committing to you. Think of sports – when players are benched they’re not in the game, but are on the sidelines just in case they’re needed back.
This is effectively the same as someone benching you in your dating life. You’re out of play for now, but in case they run out of options, or decide they want you, they know you’ll be there waiting.
Benching, sometimes referred to as bread-crumbing, is a way for them to make sure you don’t become disinterested, while keeping their options open. It means they can put in minimal effort, minimal commitment, and still know that you’ll be there on the end of their hook for when they decide to make an appearance. [Read: Cushioning and why using this tactic just makes you a jerk]
It happens a lot through text, social media, and online dating sites, as this provides a safe, comfortable place to hide without having to be forced into committing to any plans. Having various options available gives them an ego boost, and gives them a backup in case you decide to walk away and leave them with no one.
How can you tell if you’re being benched?
Think you’ve managed to escape someone benching you? Well, here are 17 ways to tell if you’ve actually fallen for it without realizing. [Read: 15 signs you’re being led on and they’re taking you nowhere!]
#1 They’re hot and cold. After texting and flirting for a while, they suddenly become distant or say things that appear to be out of character for no reason. And then a week later, they’re back to being fun and flirty. These attitude changes become more frequent, depending on how interested they are in keeping you around.
#2 You see minimal effort. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one that’s making any sort of effort, while they manage to put in barely any at all.
People generally put time and effort into things that they think are important, so if they don’t think you’re worth their time, then walk away for good.
#3 All talk, no action. After a while, you start to notice that they tend to make a lot of small promises that never actually materialize. They promised you’d hang out at the end of the week, they promised they’d message you in the morning, they promised to call you when they get home. But then every time they back out last minute, or you don’t hear from them for a week – if at all. [Read: 5 unique traits that make a person trustworthy]
#4 You can’t get through. All your texts seem to go unanswered, or just stay on ‘read’ and you don’t get any response. Don’t panic – they’re not dead, they haven’t gotten stranded somewhere, and they definitely still have battery on their phone. They’re just ignoring you, for now.
#5 You’re being blanked online. They always seem to be online, but they’re not messaging you. They share content, write statuses, and like posts, but you get nothing.
If you find that this is the case when they’re active on Facebook chat or on whatsapp, there’s a possibility that they’re chatting with one of their other ‘options’ instead.
#6 The classic excuse. When you don’t hear from them for ages, they’ll always use the same predictable line – they’ve ‘been so busy’ that they haven’t had time to message you back.
Here’s a tip – no one is ever that busy, unless they’re pulling 19 hour shifts at work, in medical school, or are a mega celebrity. And even then, they’ll still try and find time for you if they want to.
#7 It’s all a magician’s act. You may not have heard from them in days, or weeks, and just as you’re about to give up on them, they suddenly re-appear again. It’ll generally be in the form of a flirty text or well-timed whatsapp, and it’s a great trick to keep you from realizing that you deserve more.
If you find this happens relatively often, then ignore them and instead invest your time in someone who doesn’t constantly disappear on you. [Read: What you need to do when she’s playing hard to get]
#8 Test it for yourself. If you want to check if you’re being benched, text them right now and suggest going for a coffee date when they’re free this week.
If they respond with ‘Yeah sure, when do you want to go?’ you’re probably fine. But if they respond with uncertainty, or decline and suggest doing it some other unspecified time, then they’re stringing you along.
#9 The flirtatious chemistry is gone. As time goes on, you’ve noticed them becoming less and less flirty. Their behavior is morphing into something you’d expect from a friend, but they haven’t stopped contact. This is more than likely because they’re trying to distance themselves in case they decide to split, while still keeping you around in case they decide to stay.
#10 They’re full of it. They have a way with words, and can always cook up the perfect excuse for anything at any moment. There’s always a convenient reason for anything they’ve done wrong, or any time that they’ve not bothered to consider your feelings. Don’t be fooled – they’re just trying to make sure you don’t catch on to their true motives. [Read: The tricky kind of mind games men play that any girl can win]
#11 Who knows about you? None of their friends seem to even know that you exist and, when you really think about it, they’ve never actually offered to introduce you to them either. If their friends don’t seem to think that you’re in a relationship or anything that serious, chances are you’re being benched. [ElephantJournal.com: Why this dating trend is far worse than ghosting]
#12 They act as if their behavior is normal. After no contact, when they suddenly decide to enter back into your life they’ll act as if nothing has happened.
They go straight back to where they left off, assuming that you’ve just been sitting around waiting for their return. Sometimes they won’t even acknowledge that they vanished at all.
#13 You never actually see them anymore. You’ve started realizing that there’s no more real face to face contact between you. Every time you plan a date they seem excited, but then nearer the time, they make excuses or back out quickly.
Most of the contact you make is through the phone, or online, as this means they don’t really have to commit. [Read: 10 ingenious ways to beat a player who’s playing you]
#14 You don’t expect much from them. You constantly feel like you’re getting your hopes up, only to have them let down time and time again. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even be comfortable planning dates or relying on them because you’re afraid that they won’t live up to what they’ve said they’d do.
#15 You’re starting to feel like you’re going crazy. Do they make you feel like you’re being needy, or unreasonable just for expressing your feelings and wanting respect? Do you feel like you’re losing your mind because they act like they don’t see what the problem is? Ditch them, because anyone who invalidates your feelings or brushes them aside isn’t worth it. [Read: Gaslighting – 16 signs the person you like is messing with your mind]
#16 Online mind games. When they’re on social media, they tend to like the statuses you post, but they don’t actually message you. It can be so confusing and disorientating, but they’re only doing that because it’s a non-committal way of staying in the picture. It gives them a presence in your life, without having to actually communicate with you.
#17 You’ve given up fighting it. You’ve become so used to their sporadic behavior that you’ve even started justifying it, or making up reasons as to why they’re like that. Don’t judge someone based on the parts of them that appeal to you, judge them based on 100% of who they really are. The more you overlook their shortcomings, the more you’re wasting your own time.
[Read: Selfish people – 15 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]
Figuring out if you’re being benched is relatively easy, but learning when to walk away is the hard part. If you feel like someone’s keeping you on the side, take back control. Stand up for yourself, cut them off, and let them waste someone else’s time. You’re worth more than that!
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