Benching – What is it, and what can you do about it?

What is benching? No, in this context, it doesn’t have anything to do with lifting weights in the gym, it’s actually a term used in the modern dating world! Yeah, you heard right! Forget about ghosting and breadcrumbing because benching seems to be the new trend nowadays.

According to New York Magazine, benching is a sports metaphor. When someone gets “benched”; they’re on the team but sitting on the sidelines. They’re waiting in hope that their coach calls them into play at some point.

In the dating world, benching is being strung along by someone you’ve been dating. They gradually reduce their contact with you. You’ll get texts now and then from this person and may occasionally meet up, and then when you’ve had enough and decide to move on – they send a flirty text or an invite to a date to keep you on the hook. At this point you’ve been called off the bench and back into the game – but not for long.

Like so many other social phenomena, benching can be largely blamed on the overabundance of choices made available in the modern dating world, and through that, the increase in our inability to decide what we want. It sounds harsh, but dating multiple people has actually become quite popular in recent years. Benching often arises when people see others as a “back up” plan to contact when they don’t have any other options. This means they’re kept on the back burner, constantly being disappointed but fed tidbits of affection to keep them interested.

Benching is frustrating if one person is expecting a serious relationship – it may be hard to accept or even heartbreaking if you’re emotionally invested in the other person.

Why does benching happen?

There are lots of reasons that someone would want to bench someone. Maybe they’ve had some bad experiences in the past that make them afraid of commitment. Maybe they don’t want to feel the pressure to settle down after a certain number of dates. Or sometimes they want to live the single life but want someone to share the occasional flirty text or romantic encounter with.

Generally, someone benches another person to avoid getting emotionally invested in one person before exploring all their options. What if the love of their life is on the horizon and they’re already committed to someone? Of course, this means that benchers are unlikely to get into a serious relationship unless they change their ways. If they’re always keeping an eye out for the next person they might be interested in, when does the benching end?

If you’re on the receiving end of benching, what can you do?

Being benched or feeling that you are can be a very confusing and frustrating experience, especially because the bencher will usually say and do the right things to keep the bench-ee feeling like they’re properly dating, but they are never fully committed. They’ll show the right type and amount of interest to keep the bench-ee invested, but they almost never commit to actual plans.

If this sounds familiar, we have a few tips on what you can do to deal with benching:

  • Benching can be used to your advantage if you approach it correctly. Women’s Health Mag even suggests that benching may be healthy (in the right circumstances) since seeing a few people at once can be a great way to find exactly what you’re looking for in someone.
  • If you feel that you’re being benched (or want to try benching for yourself), have an open and honest conversation with the other person. If you’re both looking for something casual, this may be the best opportunity to set the right expectations and avoid either party expecting too much from the other.
  • If one person wants a relationship and the other doesn’t, or if you can’t talk it through, then move on. It will save you from the heartache of being attached to someone who isn’t that into you.
  • Use Match to find someone who is on the same page as you and set up a great date with them!

 

Register today on Match to find yourself a date and try out some of our date ideas. If you’d like to read more on dating, check out our dating advice section.