Is ‘Benching’ the new ‘Ghosting’?


Back in 2015, I wrote ‘Ghosting: The Most Brutal Form of Breakup?‘, all about being left – completely out of the blue.

Come mid-2016, there seems to be a new, upcoming dating trend rearing it’s ugly head… a trend by the name of ‘Benching’.

So what is Benching?

Coined by Jason Chen in an article in New York Magazine, ‘benching’ is what happens when you like a person, but you don’t want a full-blown relationship – you want to keep your options open.

It’s the perpetual limbo of texting here and there – but never really going anywhere.

It’s when you’re ready to move on and plan to go on a date with someone new, and they pop miraculously back into your life – just enough to pique your interest and dangle the carrot of a possible relationship without ever actually following through with plans.

You’re left hanging.

You’re on the back-burner, a just-in-case. You’re left waiting on the bench, but never given the chance to play.

It’s the nightmare of never having closure. At least with ghosting you can get over them… right?

Chen came up with the term after struggling to define the weird, not-quite-relationship with someone he’d gone on a couple of dates with — the random texts, the Instagram likes, the halfhearted plans to get together which always fell through.

Are we are falling for the bencher’s perceived niceness?

When the person is messaging you, asking you questions like ‘How are you?’ or ‘How’s your day? it makes it seem like they care – they have a genuine interest. E.g ‘See, he’s not an arsehole. He’s asking me questions!’

But that’s literally sales-for-dummies: Ask questions so the buyer thinks you think they’re interesting.

Benching is just a new term for ‘leading someone on’ – it’s a way of keeping your options open, without terminating the conversation altogether.

Chen calls it “despicable, manipulative, selfish behaviour” – which is pretty damn accurate.

Unfortunately, I hate to break it to you: if it’s happening to you, the pseudo-relationship is most likely over, in spite of how ‘interested’ the bencher still seems to be.

As the old phrase goes… he’s just not that into you. No matter how many kiss emoji’s they send… 63a6a9296b01b2979e27d1f2be42c962



Know someone who'd like this post?

1 Comment

  1. December 2, 2016 / 4:01 am

    I think more than anything there’s just a trend toward absolutely, flat-out refusing to commit at all. Benching and back burner relationships are all about keeping someone on the hook for as long as you possibly can without actually going anywhere.

    What confuses me is why people are willing to put up with it. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of putting someone on the back burner (and I’ve also been benched before – several times), but I was never quite able to figure out what weird lack of self-esteem or self-worth prompted me to allow it. I’ve started calling it out, now, which isn’t helping me get any guys to commit, but it’s definitely freeing up a lot of mental space for me to work on myself – which was kind of the point of being single in the first place, right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *