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If you thought ghosting was shitty, benching is its older, meaner sibling

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Trust me: You'd rather be ghosted than benched

There was a guy I was obsessed with in college... we'll call him Sam. 

Sam was everything I wanted and I just knew we were meant to be. After all, he called me all the time — this was 2002, before texting was even a thing — and always wanted to hang out. But he would disappear every time he found another girl, only to act like nothing happened a couple of weeks later when it ended (and it always ended). I took this as confusion on his end — surely he liked me, right? That's why he kept coming back.

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Nope. Not at all. Not even a little.

It turns out there's a name for what he was doing to me — benching.

That's the term New York writer Jason Chen gives to the sorta-kinda-not-really dating process where you'll text with a love interest and flirt back and forth but he or she will never actually make concrete plans — or will cancel them at the last minute. A little time passes and you get over it, only to have them reel you back in with a sweet "Hey, honeybun, how've you been?"

There are a few reasons it happens, but mainly it's because the person likes the ego boost that comes with keeping someone on the bench in case Plan A doesn't pan out. Others do it because they don't want to be mean and shut a person down.

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"Conor, a 28-year-old law student in New York, says he’s often ignored advances from females in his life — but will continue to text and 'spend time' with them while at school or in the workplace," Chen writes. "'I won’t actually hang out one-on-one because I want to avoid any confusion for her about my interests,' he says, 'but I’ll still text with her, often a few days after those botched plans. She’ll say something like, ‘You’re too busy for me,’ and I’ll laugh and change the subject. Maybe it seems like I just don’t want to be an asshole, but to me it’s just polite.'"

Mainly, it's just one way of leading someone on, instead of being truthful about not wanting a relationship. It may seem harmless, but let me tell you that ghosting is a lot more kind. At least that's easy to get over. Instead, the person getting benched — like I was — definitely gets hurt, like death by a thousand cuts with salt then poured in the wounds.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm glad it happened this way because he was a real douche. Still, don't bench another person; just be real. It stings to be rejected (and do the rejecting), but at least it makes things crystal clear.

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