Is benching the new ghosting in online dating? Benching is the act of keeping someone as a romantic backup, by keeping in contact sporadically, but enough to make them think they have a chance.
Benching is not a new concept. I would argue that people have been “benching” long before online dating was a thing, and long before ghosting was a thing. I imagine it’s been happening for as long as men and women have been courting each other.
Unlike ghosting, which is the act of cutting all contact and disappearing after starting a conversation with someone online, benching is considered much crueler and yet nearly all of us have done it at some point. Not always on purpose, and not maliciously, but it’s still hurtful.
No one likes to think they are being led on or played around with. We want to think that if someone shows interest in us, and we have interest in them, it could lead to something more. Benching is frustrating because the person doing it will normally stay out of contact just long enough for you to think about giving up, before coming back in full flirt mode. We get our hopes up, and then we’re left disappointed.
Why do we do it? Why do we bench someone? Well the simple answer is, we’re not completely interested in the other person, but we’re also not confident we’ll find someone else. No one likes the idea of being alone and undesired, so having someone waiting for you is an ego boost as well as safety net. It makes you feel more confident, and you think “well I might end up with them.”
It’s not unusual to feel this way, and sometimes you really might not be realising you’re doing it. It’s hard to decide what the right move to take would be. You’re not fully interested in someone, but you’re not fully disinterested in them either. They’re someone that has the potential to be a good match with you, but you also hope you’ll find someone better.
In these situations, you should just be open and honest about your feelings. It doesn’t have to be a full blown rejection, but it does have to be honest. You can tell them that you think there’s potential between the two of you, but right now isn’t the right time for you. You can be friends, or you can go your separate ways.
The difference is that they will be able to decide if they want to wait for you, or at least be your friend knowing that you’ve not promised them anything. They can also decide that they want to find someone else, someone who really wants to be with them.
Maybe they will chose to wait for you, and that gives you the relief of knowing that if you find someone else, they can’t blame you for leading them on. If they chose to move on, then you can rest knowing that they weren’t the one for you.
Benching might not be the new ghosting, since I’m sure benching has been around much longer, but it’s certainly increased in number since online dating has been introduced. It’s not easier than ever to keep someone hooked with minimal effort. A text here or there, maybe a few photos sent or a phone call.
It’s just one of the new risks to online dating, and although it sucks, it’s not surprising. The only way to deal with it is to make sure that you individually don’t do it, and then hopefully there’s enough decent people that it’ll become a rarer occurrence.