Benching – has the latest dating trend left you on the bench?



You’ve recovered from the ghost, you’ve swept away the breadcrumbs and deleted the zombie in your inbox, but now you’ve found yourself on the bench. Hayley Thompson explains the latest disposable dating trend: benching

Not only has the Internet helped to breed a whole new generation of daters, it’s also conveniently coined cute little nicknames, neatly allowing us all to categorise our heartache (to fit into 140 character Tweets, we imagine).

Unfortunately the latest term, benching, doesn’t make this dating habit any cuter.

So, what is benching?

Not heard of it? Well, chances are you’re already no stranger to the bench; whether you’ve been sat there or have been guilty of parking a previous partner on it for a while.

Think of dating as a football game (bear with me, I know nothing about football!) You’ve got your strikers, who go for the goal every time; the defenders, who wait for the action to come to them; and then you’ve got the subs bench. Those players who are technically still part of the team, but sit on the bench, providing options when the regular players get a bit tired or fail to return your text messages.

The players on the subs bench represent that person, waiting in the depths of your phone’s contact list, who you know will always reply to a late night message. That person you rely on for the odd pick-me-up date. And they’re also that spare plus one, who you only deploy when your original date or best friend drops out.

Benching is all about keeping your options open – definitely not a bad idea in the early stages of dating. Our American cousins across the pond seem to do this pretty effortlessly, but for some, being kept on the bench as an option can quickly evolve into something resembling a relationship.

So how do you know when you’ve been benched?

Well, have you made it through the many rounds of dating, met his ‘teammates’ and seen each other without your best-behaviour dating façade on? Then you’re definitely edging into the relationship zone. But have you ever taken part in any of the afore-mentioned activities while still harbouring a disturbing slither of doubt that the person will actually reply to your texts and phone calls, or be the one who actually suggests meeting up again? Do you constantly find yourself worrying that they’ll back out on plans at the last minute or do you find yourself suggesting meet-ups that are so convenient for them that you may well end up camping outside their work?

It may sound unfair, but if you’re ‘on the bench’ then you’ve only got two choices: stay and indulge in a half-hearted relationship or get up and walk away. Your ‘bencher’ likes you, that’s why you’re there and no wondering where they ghosted away to, but it’s more than likely that they have commitment issues that no-one but them will be able to help them get past.

What should you do about it?

The bottom line is that benchers see the people they’ve benched as options not priorities. If you’re looking for a fulfilling and committed relationships but find yourself on the bench, then it’s almost always best to get up and walk away.

Trust me; I know that that decision can feel like the most difficult one in the world. The temptation to get up and jump up and down on that metaphorical bench shouting, ‘Love me, just love me, okay’ is crippling, but just don’t. Don’t.

Because you know the real problem with sitting on the bench and watching from the sidelines? You might be missing out on someone who does see you as a priority – maybe even a star player.

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