What is Benching Dating? Signs And Ways To Avoid It

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Have you ever been strung along only to know that you were just an option to them? Yeah, this person kept you in limbo only to break your heart into pieces. When we think about emotional manipulation, we think about benching. Benching dating is actually worse than full-on ghosting because you keep trying to figure out where it is going the entire time. We’ve all had our fair share of benchers like Mr Big in Sex and the City, who want you but don’t want to commit.

To these benchers, you are just an option, someone they can come to when other options don’t pan out.

What Is Bench Dating?

To know putting someone on the bench meaning, imagine any team sport. The good players are sent out on the field while the not so good players are benched. If the good players get out or incur some injury, the benched players finally get a chance to play. This is the same case in benching, only with more added ingredients to the recipe such as fake hopes, no commitment, heartbreak, and not to forget, feeling like a fool. You could have been a victim of ghosting, breadcrumbing, fishing dating but benching dating is a whole new ballgame altogether that has all the ingredients to turn you into an insecure, nervous wreck when you realize what’s been done to you.

So, what does benching someone mean? Benching dating is when you are strung around for a long time with no promises of commitment.


You’re in a relationship limbo where they show you that they are interested, only enough to keep you on the hook, like many others. When they begin to run out of options they decide whether they want to move forward with you or not. Benching dating is like breadcrumbing, they throw little bits of attention towards your way only to give you the hope of a possible future. In the end, you realize that you were just his/her backup.

happy couple
Couple on a date

For Joanne, 27, online dating was a new thing. It was there where she met Alex who worked as a part-time contractor. Joanne had an amazing first date and she waited for Alex to make the next move. A week later Alex texted her, apologizing that there was some family emergency. Joanne continued talking to him and would wait for Alex to reply to her texts, but each time he had a new excuse ready for not being available.

She wanted to break it off with him but Alex had a way with words and each time he spoke to her, he made her feel special. Whenever Joanne wanted to meet him, he was busy. She would see him online but it wasn’t her who Alex was texting. Whenever they would talk, he never actually spoke about himself to her. Joanne thought that it was all a part of him playing hard to get and keeping the suspense. At times, Alex would text her late at night and talking would turn into sexting. This relationship limbo with Alex continued for 4 months. All of a sudden he went MIA and she couldn’t figure out why, until she met him in the same café they had their first date in. He was in the middle of a date with another girl. Joanne felt cheated on and confronted him, only to get to know that the girl wasn’t his date but his girlfriend for the last 2 months. This is when Joanne realized that she was being benched from the start.

8 Signs Of Bench Dating You Should Know

Imagine looking for a serious relationship only to know that you were just a backup. People indulge in bench dating because they want something to boost their ego. Getting attention from many people and having to choose or reject them seems like a privilege to these benchers. Such people follow one rule- minimal attention, no commitment and high hopes.

When you’re being benched, it can soon feel like you are in a toxic relationship. This is enough for them to keep you hooked on them for a long time. This push-pull relationship can make you feel like you should not leave thereby ensuing this unhealthy relationship.  Here are 8 signs that you’ve been benched.

1. All you get are promises

woman looking out
All you get are promises

How many times have they made excuses to you for not giving you time, cancelling a date or texting back? Sometimes it’s a work thing or a family problem or a friend in need. And there’s always the, ‘I was a bit sick’ excuse which will make you feel guilty of getting mad at them.

They promise to go out on a date with you or call you but it almost never happens. You get your hopes up and start to imagine things in your head, only to be disappointed. You keep waiting for them to fulfil their promises but how many times are they actually being honest with you? 

2. No one knows about you

You might have already told your best friend about this new person you’re seeing. But how many of his/her friends actually know about you? It’s like they don’t even know that you exist. If you’ve noticed that your partner never invites you out with his/her friends or even mentions you to them, that is enough to raise alarm. 

Have they ever told you about their friends and offered you to meet them? Have they ever even suggested double date ideas? If their friends don’t know that you exist, it is because he/she doesn’t want you to know much about their personal life. They clearly do not take you seriously enough to get you to mix with their company. Yeah, you’re being benched.

Related Reading: No more a ‘backup’: Here’s how to make sure you come first

3. You can’t expect anything from them

Couple outdoor
You can’t expect anything from them

You can never have expectation from someone who has benched you. You get your hopes up and they are shattered by this person. The worst part is that you can’t even be mad about it. These people have been in the game for a long time and know-how to tackle someone who gets their hopes up.

They have learnt your ways and even know what you are expecting from them. They know just what to say to placate you so that they are immediately in the clear. The moment you are mad at them, they will take you on a guilt trip and they will end up having their own way. This can lead to further relationship arguments

4. They are never available for you

Man thinking
Is your date always busy!

You keep calling them or texting them, and they don’t have the time to reply. You feel worried about them and begin to obsess over it. It is after many hours or maybe days that they finally respond back to you. Sometimes they even read your messages and forget to reply.

Trust us, nobody ever actually forgets to reply to a person they genuinely care about. People always find and make times for the ones they truly care about. It is because they are already dealing with a bunch of people at the same time and they could have overlooked your message because they were busy with someone else.

5. They are online but not talking to you

You will see them online for hours but you’re not the one they are texting. Out of curiosity, you might text them but they clearly don’t wish to reply. You end up even double texting them to see if they respond but you still don’t get any revert. It is a clear sign of benching dating because they are busy texting others. 

When you’re talking about dating apps, this happens extremely often. Maybe when they’re bored and finally done texting the others, they’ll be reminded to respond to you. Don’t be elated, because this is still a sign of putting someone on the bench. 

6. You think that they’re playing hard to get

Couple having coffee
You think that they’re playing hard to get

Suddenly you’ll find them giving you all the attention and then all of a sudden they will act all cold and distant. You will feel that they are doing so because they are playing hard to get. In reality, they actually might be tied up giving someone else attention. People play hard to get only in the initial days of dating, not all the time.

If you find such erratic behaviour happening more frequently, you should be worried. Such continuous elusive behaviour is clearly a red flag and will not end well for you. 

Related Reading:10 Reasons He Suddenly Stopped Chasing You – Even When You Wanted Him To

7. They’re too mysterious

You may know certain things about them but really sit down and ponder this. Do you actually know them well? If it often appears that a lot of their stories don’t add up or they often bring up things that they’ve never actually mentioned to you before, there is an unhealthy mystery in your relationship. 

If you begin to realize that you really don’t know anything about their personal life at all, this could be a sign that they are benching dating you. You might even try to know him better but he does not make that effort towards you. Perhaps, you are so smitten by the online version of them that you were never able to see their reality.  At first, such a mysterious nature can be attractive and sexy, but later, it will just pick your brain. 

Some people use this mysteriousness to keep you hooked onto them so that you don’t ask too many questions.

8. Check for yourself

If you think that you’ve been benched, it’s time to be sure. Text them that you want to hang out tomorrow or this weekend. If they say, “Yeah sure, let’s meet.”, you’re safe. But if this person says, “Can’t say for certain. I’ll let you know.”, it’s because he/she has some other commitments that are keeping him/her from saying yes to you. He is surely not dating you exclusively.

If you are observing signs that somebody has been benching dating you, it is time for you to alert your senses and scrutinize situations even more than before. You do not want to be led down a path to heartbreak so you should stay cautious beforehand. 

Woman checking phone
Check and test yourself

Ways to Avoid Being Benched

If you’re someone who has fallen into the trap of benching dating, you need to keep an eye out for those red flags. Falling into the trap of benching dating is easy because you can’t always judge a book from its cover. What you can do though is to look out for the signs and turn around when the time is right. Here are some ways to avoid being benches.

1. Look out for the warning signs

Follow your sixth sense when it tells you to run the other way. Your intuition is always much stronger than you think it is.  The moment you feel that a person isn’t being entirely honest with you, get out of that space. If you’d pay heed to your gut feeling, you’d know when a guy is not into you. Just pay attention and be alert to his behaviour and how he responds to you. 

2. Don’t show too much interest in the beginning

People bench those who can be an easy backup for them. If you show that you’re interested in them, they will feel that you’ll go after them even if they don’t pay attention to you.  Texting back too soon is certainly not one of the rules of texting while dating.  If you make yourself too available constantly, they will take you for granted.

3. Take control

Don’t give your bencher the control. Always take a stand for yourself and show them that you’re not someone who can easily be fooled.

Related Reading: 14 Signs A Girl Is Leading You On And Toying With Your Heart

4. Know your self-worth

Never settle for anything you don’t deserve. Know that you deserve to be paid attention and you deserve a normal relationship/dating experience. If he is hiding your relationship from his friends, something is definitely amiss. on your own self-esteem and think about what you really want from your life. Don’t chase somebody that is not worth the things that you want in your life. 

Woman walking
Know your self-worth

5. Bench them in return

If you get the whiff that someone is benching dating you, turn the game around on them. Beat them at the same game that they think they are so good at. Give them a taste of their own medicine. Do exactly the same things that they are doing to you and have the last laugh. This will certainly make him miss you

Nowadays, benching someone at a disco, online and even through texts has become a common thing. Some people find out that they have been benched only at the end when they get to know that the person has gone with someone else. While others, have a vague idea and still go on with it because they don’t have any other option at that time. Know your self-worth and get back in the dating game. You’ll not always find benchers waiting for perfect backups. You never know, the next one could actually be a genuine one.

FAQs

What does benching someone mean?

Benching someone is a dating tactic where they keep you on the hook but do not give you the love and attention that you deserve. They only treat you like a backup.

How do you tell if a guy is benching you?

If he ignores your calls and only talks to you on his own terms, he is probably benching you. If a guy is benching dating you, he will never make the efforts to surprise you or make you feel happy. He will only care about his own needs.

Is benching worse than ghosting?

It can be because the person being benched is always left to overthink, overanalyze and desperately wait for the other person to give them attention. When one is being ghosted, at least they are not clinging onto the ropes of hope.

What is the best way to deal with benching dating?

Follow your gut and trust yourself. If you think you are being treated in a way that you do not deserve, you must walk out of that relationship.

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