One of my clients really liked a girl he met at a singles event. They seemed to hit it off, but then her interest in him waned. After a few days of sporadic texts, she stopped messaging him altogether (called ghosting). However, about three weeks later, he received a text from her asking how he was doing. She was back!
He found out through a mutual friend that she’d met another guy and started hanging out with him a lot. However, that guy ended up getting back with his ex. So, the girl in question, having lost her first choice, decided to circle back to her second choice: my client.
What Is Benching?
My client experienced “benching”: when a man or woman rejects you for another, more attractive person (in their eyes), but, when that person becomes unavailable, comes back to you as the second choice. Benching can also involve being strung along in any general sense, like when you remain someone’s perpetual second option.
Benching comes from the sports world, where, if your performance isn’t up to par, you’re “benched,” i.e. pulled from play, to allow someone better to take your place. But, if that person becomes unable to play for whatever reason, the coach puts you back in, from the bench.
My client is an example of benching. When her first choice went back to his ex, she returned to my client. Another example is when the guy you like only texts you to hang out if the other girls in his contacts aren’t available.
In the age of internet dating, especially Tinder, people have more options than ever. As a result, benching is very common. In fact, some men and women might have a bench of dating options 2-3 people deep!
Signs of Benching
While few people are going to come out and say, “you’re my second choice,” there are signs you’re being benched, if you pay attention. Here are a few of them:
Contact becomes less frequent
If the person you’re dating goes from regular contact to very sporadic with no excuse (e.g. job change), then it’s a sign there is someone else getting the attention you used to receive!
Contact becomes less flirty
If you formerly talked about fun, flirty, romantic things and you suddenly start talking about the weather, then the other person has typically shifted the romantic focus to another person.
You hear a lot of excuses
When you ask the other person to hang out, he or she might offer excuses to delay or stall the conversation, usually to try to be with their first choice.
Ghosting, followed by re-connection
If the person “disappears” suddenly, then returns just as suddenly, there’s a good chance option #1 didn’t work out and you’re #2.
How To Respond to Benching
If you think you’re being benched, you have to figure out how to deal with it. There are a few options.
Let it happen
If you don’t mind being second choice, then go with it. Some people genuinely don’t care if they are someone’s first priority. Honestly, I find this position to be sad and weak, but it still is an option,
so I’m listing it.
Stand up to the other person
I’m not a huge fan of this option either. Likely, if you’re second choice, it’s for a reason and you’re not going to change anyone’s mind by being confrontational.
Dump the other person
This option at least allows you to retain your pride. But, it also might mean some time without relationship options.
Find other options yourself
This is my favorite choice. If you like the person benching you (at least as a friend) and don’t want to cut them off completely, then bench them for someone else. This isn’t to be spiteful or rude. But, part of dating is keeping your options open, as well. If they don’t give you their best, then they don’t deserve your best either. Give it to someone else! However, don’t lead on anyone either. Be clear to your “second choice” that you’re dating around.
So, now you should know what benching in dating is, as well as the signs to detect it and what to do if you’re benched. If you’re being benched consistently, then maybe it’s time to try to be more attractive, overall. Check out our various resources to be your best, most attractive self.