Have you ever been strung along only to know that you were just an option to them? Yeah, this person kept you in a 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, bread crumbing, 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 realise 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 bread crumbing, they throw little bits of attention towards your way only to give you hope of a possible future. At the end, you realize that you were just his/her backup.
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 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. This is enough for them to keep you hooked onto them for a long time. Here are 8 signs that you’ve been benched.
1. 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 fulfilled?
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.
Have they ever told you about their friends and offered you to meet them? 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. 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
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. The moment you are mad at them, they will take you on a guilt trip and they will end up having their own way.
4. They are never available for you
You keep calling them or texting them, they don’t 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. 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 text them and they don’t reply. You end up even double texting them to see if they respond but you still don’t get any revert. It is because they are busy benching others online and will text you when it is your turn. These people will even share photos and statuses online but won’t reply to you.
Again, do you still think you aren’t being benched?
6. 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 more frequent and continuous for a long time, take it as a red flag.
7. They’re too mysterious
You know things about them but do you actually know them? Sometimes you will find them acting mysterious and sometimes their stories won’t add up. You don’t know anything about their personal life at all, just the online version of them. At first you found this mysterious nature attractive and sexy, but now, it is just making you pick your brain even more.
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.
Ways to Avoid Being Benched
If you’re someone who has fallen into the trap of bench dating, you need to look out for the red flags. Falling into the trap of bench dating is easy because you can’t judge a book from its cover. What you can do is look out for the signs and turn back when the time is right. Here are some ways to avoid being the benchee.
1. Look out for the warning signs
Follow your sixth sense when it tells you to run the other way. The moment you feel that this person isn’t being entirely honest with you, get out. If you’d pay heed to your gut feeling, you’d know when a guy is not into 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.
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.
5. Bench them in return
If you get the whiff that someone is trying to bench you turn the game around. Beat them at the same game. Do exactly the same things that they are doing to you and have the last laugh.
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.