How to stop benching from ruining your dating experience
Being a victim of benching is becoming ever more common, but, even if it happens to you, it doesn’t have to put you off dating completely. Laura Yates shares what you need to know
We’ve had ghosting and zombieing, but now the latest dating term to be coined is benching. In plain speaking, benching is essentially being strung along. It happens when someone you’ve been dating (or even been in a relationship with) gradually disappears from your life without you even realising. Often, it’s only when you see or hear about them with someone else that it becomes clear.
What makes this so tricky psychologically is that the person putting us on the bench typically says and does all the right things to keep things ‘ticking over’, but is never actually fully committed. You might not even be actually dating! If you’ve ever been messaging someone for weeks, they’re great at responding to texts and show just the right of interest to keep you invested, but are hopeless at committing to actual plans, then I’m sorry, you’ve been benched.
Although benching can be an emotionally draining experience, here are a few points to keep in mind to make the experience a little bit easier.
Spot the red flags sooner
People who bench often love the idea of having someone to text. It gives them that instant dopamine hit with minimal effort. And let’s face it; we all love to hear the sound of our phone beeping with a message from someone we think we’re building up chemistry with. It seems ridiculous, but it can be so easy to think we’re creating something special with someone who we text affectionate messages to each morning and evening, which is why benching can really throw us, even if we’ve never met the other person!
Regardless of how sincere and heartfelt the messages seem, if they never progress to real life dates than you essentially have a digital pen pal who loves the idea of dating you, but won’t actually see it through. The same is true if you are meeting up; if dates are sporadic and the bencher is inconsistent and disappears only to suddenly resurface just when you’ve almost driven yourself crazy wondering why they’re ignoring you, then that’s also benching. The simple answer: you need to move on.
Be savvy and keep perspective
Being benched can lead to you asking yourself all kinds of questions – you might even end up questioning your own sanity! It can feel like we’ve completely lost control. ‘Do they like me?’, ‘What’s going on?’, ‘Why haven’t I heard from then since Sunday?’ If someone likes you that much, then they would text and arrange another date to see you ASAP. Keep it simple and know your boundaries. If you’re always on a high followed by a sudden low of anxiety, stress and inner turmoil, then this person isn’t aligned with what you want.
Understand why they might have benched you
Many people don’t commit the crime of benching intentionally, or because they want to hurt you. Sometimes people just don’t know what they want. They like to keep their options open and feel that the best way to do this is to show just enough interest that it doesn’t rule anyone out. And they usually aren’t at all aware of the emotional impact that it has on the other person. That doesn’t make it okay and yes, it’s selfish, but some people just aren’t emotionally aware enough to navigate their dating life in a way that’s compassionate to others. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong; it just means that this person isn’t a good match for you.
Unfortunately, benching is a common challenge and it can happen a lot in modern dating, mostly because we rely so much on digital communication. The only real solution is to go back to your core values, when it comes to dating, know your boundaries, keep perspective, spot the signs sooner and learn from your experiences.
Laura Yates is a relationship coach and writer who specialises in helping people through break-ups and heartbreak. Laura provides clients with bespoke tools, techniques and mindsets that enable them to deal with their emotional struggles whilst moving forward in their life with renewed energy and focus. She also helps people to build up their confidence, communication and interaction skills when getting back into dating. Find Laura on Facebook, Twitter @laurayatesUK and at her website, laurayates.org. You can also take her free break-up quiz to discover your number one Heartbreak Trap and get a free roadmap sent to you on what to do next.