The Latest Bad Dating Behavior: Benching
Don't let yourself be anyone's second choice
Just when we thought we’d seen it all with online dating, a new trend has arrived on the scene, and it’s as unwelcome as a bad date.
Benching is the newest rude dating behavior, and it’s quickly replacing ghosting as the most annoying behavior yet. Read on to find out what benching is, and how to avoid being treated this way by your online dates.
What benching is
Sometimes a guy acts super interested in a woman when he sees her profile online. This could result in a steady chain of emails, texts, and even in-person dates. But then suddenly, he disappears. Almost. He continues to send occasional messages, or funny posts on the woman’s Facebook page, but he never makes a firm commitment to meet.
When a guy does this, he’s essentially benching the woman, putting her on hold while he dates someone else more promising, or while he dates so many other women that he simply doesn’t have time to make contact. He strings her along with the random text or social media posting so that she doesn’t completely cut him off and he knows she’s still an option. It can be increasingly confusing to the recipient of this behavior because logically it seems that the guy is still interested, and just doesn’t seem to ever have the time to make a date. Otherwise, why would he text?
The men who do this – and women can be guilty of it as well – are doing it because they’re narcissists and they have no concept of how their behavior can impact someone else. All they know is that they want to have dates available when they want them, and stringing people along is the best way to achieve their selfish goal.
“Benching and ghosting are similar in that they are driven in part by a bit of immaturity, lack of integrity and selfishness. They differ in that ghosting may be a passive way to avoid the discomfort of simply letting someone down whereas benching is a bit more overtly sinister in that a person puts their needs to have attention from a variety of partners or to have backups on deck in case something doesn't work out over the needs and welfare of all of the participants. In both benching and ghosting there is a power differential between the person doing the act and the one having it done to them. Any time one dating partner has information the other does not have their is an unfair distribution of power,” said Carrie Krawiec, a marriage and family therapist and executive director of the Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist and relationship expert, said, “Whatever you call it, neglectful treatment is as old as dating. Usually it’s guys who want to keep you in reserve, but women can do it too. Women are more likely to do it because they are trying to be nice, and sometimes because they don’t want to be alone.”
What to look out for
“If your guy never wants to make a definite date and just wants to come over to your house on the spur of the moment, he doesn't make an effort to keep in and he doesn't seem to think about the future, he's probably just using you as ‘reserve’ and not really interested. To be a starter, you need a different kind of guy. Don't look for the surface stuff. Handsome is as handsome does. Find a guy with character, which you're more likely to find out if you are socially involved with him before you are personally involved with him. Don't be too easily available. Your interaction should be like a tennis match. He volleys, then you do, too. Never send a lot of shots over the net in a row,” Tessina advised.
“This is pure narcissism on the man's part, coupled with insecurity that he won't find his Ms. Right. It's linked to a fear of commitment, but even more to a view of women as sources of narcissistic supply, that is, women as ego-gratification. That's why no one woman is enough,” she said.
Krawiec said, “Ghosting is disappointing in that it is a passive rejection without an explanation. The ghosted person may hold out hope which wouldn't happen if the Ghosting partner was just more clear. In benching there is an actual deception. A person is strung on lead to believe a relationship has more meaning to the partner doing the benching. He doesn't want to lose you to another team but doesn't want to utilize you on the field. Its both selfish and dishonest. It would be more fair to let a person choose if they want to participate in a casual set up versus unknowing thinking they are of higher importance.”
Ghosting is tough, when men disappear for good, but benching can be worse, because the pain lingers, and you can’t move on as easily. But remember, it’s a false hope that the guy might actually ask you out again, because being someone’s second choice is never a good idea.