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In our ever-digital-dating-age it has become much easier to put someone aside for a few days/weeks/months and come back to them when you feel like it. As millennials, we are all kicking it millhouse on Tinder without any care for navigating an actual real-life relationship (why, when you can just swipe right for sex?) Enter, ghosting. And now, benching.  

Ghosting, defined: A modern dating dilemma in which someone pulls a digital disappearance act instead of manning up and having a difficult “I’m just not that into you” conversation. It’s happened to the best of us – someone can ghost you after your first, second or tenth date, you never know. As it turns out, you have likely been the ghost yourself before. It is a typical human reaction to avoid conflict – especially with someone you don’t actually have to own up to in the long run. At it’s core, ghosting is about that person avoiding confrontation or conflict, and therefore avoiding hurting your feelings.

Benching, on the other hand – is an even worse dating avoidance tactic raising its ugly head. As put candidly by Jason Chen for NY Mag, “benching, while superficially polite, is far more insidious than simply ghosting or — if you’re old-school — offering an icy brush-off.” Why? You may ask. It is it’s plausible deniability. To bench, is to avoid, while maintain some sort of flirty contact. It is the non-ghoster, who doesn’t want to be an asshole, that will stay in touch with you but only every few months. This is due to the fact that they are most likely not feeling the relationship, or they are too much of a wuss to break up with you properly. Let’s be honest, both scenarios aren’t ideal. To be ‘benched’ is to understand that planned meetings with one specific person [the bencher] will never take place. He may text you every few months, send you random Snapchats, or like every third Instagram post. It’s a seriously unfortunate digital romance power play.

The harsh reality of benching? You can’t get over the person, as they are still maintaining some sort of contact. At least with ghosting you can pretend they have been hit by a truck or had to move to Iowa. With benching, it’s all about a quick ego stroke, and when he bumps into you out and about somewhere? He has done nothing wrong!

As Chen puts it: “Really, benching is just the modern incarnation of what we used to call leading someone on. But, as with so many formerly minor nuisances, it’s become comically frictionless in the smartphone era. You no longer have to take someone to lunch or buy them a martini or even have a face-to-face conversation.”

Well great, dating is just getting better and better, isn’t it? Welcome to the wondrous playing field, ‘benching’. If you are being benched you are technically being dumped, just verrrryyy slowly… he’s just not that into you. Ghost the bencher back, baby!

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H/t New York Magazine.