If you’re reading this, chances are you suspect you’re quite possibly a Benchee, and have at this point exhausted your allocation of one-sided overanalyzing to girlfriends. Thankfully, if you’ve gotten as far as stalking the Internet for answers, then you’ve finally realized his wishy washy tendencies aren’t part of his charm. He’s blowing hot and cold for a reason, and as harsh as it sounds, it may be just to string you along.
So from someone who’s been in the same bewildered boat, here are a few things I learned from going on one to many non-dates with the guy who just wasn’t that into me.
1. First off, don’t assume that any hesitation on his part means you are being benched
Despite this article’s tough love stance, I do think there’s still room in this universe for hopeless romantics. In the beginning stages of any relationship,we’re all just sniffing each other out in small baby steps. It’s hard being vulnerable, and scary letting people into our most sacred spaces where old wounds and embarrassing baggage hide. It may take time but with the right person things will eventually sort themselves out, and you’ll be thankful you gave love another try.
2. The key to a good Bencher-Benchee relationship is the ambiguity
The Bencher has mastered the art of the Mixed Signal. He doesn’t give you too much that you’re sure where you stand, but doesn’t give you too little that you’d drift away. He’s calculated the right level of push and pull to keep you circling in his orbit. One day he’s hinting at the chemistry you both have and you feel like things are finally going somewhere, the next he’s talking about this really great girl he just met like you’re buddies. At the end of the day, since he’s never verbalized any intention for a deeper commitment, you can’t really call him a bad guy if he suddenly changes his tune. Why they do this, be it to boost their ego or because they’re just confused, you will never know.
3. You were in a Non-Relationship Relationship, and I think we should officially make that a thing
You were never really together, but maybe you kind of were. At certain points it may have actually felt like the early phases of the real thing, which is why you let it go on for as long as you did. You wondered at times if you were in the friend zone, but then he’d flirt with you and you’d be sure it was most definitely something more. There was or a certain level of attraction and intimacy which you can’t fake. So give yourself that much credit, you are feeling things because you are human and in some cases, deliberately led on. If anyone asks him about you though, he will have the benefit of plausible deniability, and so will you. Which is convenient given how increasingly small our social circles have become. But between you and me, despite the technicalities, this whole mess of nothing, is actually a little bit of something.
4. Sometimes a Freak-Up can be just as bad as a Break-Up
There were no labels but there was definitely a connection and if you’ve gotten used to hanging out a lot, being ignored for long stretches of time can feel just like being dumped. One minute you’re the VIP, the next he’s too busy to even talk on the phone. You were for all intents and purposes just friends, so your falling out can’t be called a break up. So let’s call it a Freak-Up, or a “friend break up”, which I think is worse than a regular one because it sounds like something a stalker-chick made up. So during the times when he’s ignoring you, it’s okay to feel sad, sulky and angry. Accept your feelings because even if you were never together, he surely made you feel like you could be. Go feel all the feels without judgment, even from yourself. The sooner you can get it out of your system, hopefully, the sooner you can move on.
5. At the back of our minds, we know we are being benched
Always trust your gut. If you feel like things aren’t on the up and up, they probably aren’t. The Benchee always knows something’s amiss, but likes the Bencher too much that they let it slide. We make rationalizations for his bad behavior, and are quick to give him “one last chance” over and over again. Sometimes we hope for the best, and sometimes all that pays off. Only you can decide if your Bencher deserves the benefit of the doubt, or if it’s time to walk away. But always remember that a guy who likes you will make you a priority 100% of the time, no excuses.
6. When a guy says he isn’t ready for a relationship, take him at his word
Oftentimes, the Benchee will hint at some level of emotional unavailability. Maybe he’s just broken up with someone, is pining for the one that got away, or he’s still figuring out what he wants long term before he makes a move. A lot of girls, myself included, will take this, ignore all the bad bits, and find ways to try and change his mind. Oftentimes, this is because we like the Benchee, so we’re willing to take a few risks with our hearts. But if a Bencher says he doesn’t want anything more, ironically this time, that’s exactly what he means.
7. No one likes being the clingy girl, but if you need to clarify the relationship, then by all means, do so
We often end up in these situations quite casually, and sometimes by chance. You just get to a point with someone that after spending every weekend together and meeting his entire family, you start to wonder if this could be something more. Depending on how gutsy you are, you either talk to the other person or fish for information like crazy. But you soon realize that once the topic of a future comes up, and the other party shuts down or nervously avoids it. Maybe he really needs time to get over something, or he doesn’t want anything more than some fun. In any case, I think it’s better to ask, and to know. A guy who wants you would at this crucial junction step up and wont give you cryptic answers. If you think you can play the game though, then by all means, do so. But if you think you could break your heart, then be careful. Even non-relationships are hard to get over.
8. There’s no one correct way to get over a Bencher.
A Bencher is like a vice. We all know he’s bad for us, but he’s just too tempting that we can’t quite kick the habit. Or we make a resolution to quit, but then allow ourselves one last hit and then we’re back to square one. It’s frustrating, and ridding ourselves of such emotional vampires may not happen overnight, but it’s not impossible. I’ve never had much willpower (ask any donut that came into my line of sight), so I know I could never get rid of my Bencher cold turkey. So instead of trying to resist temptation, I had to change my mindset and truly realize that I deserved better. And just like that, his subpar antics became quite juvenile and I saw him for what he is. So find out what works for you – be it a gradual weaning off or complete dump – get support, and get it done.
9. Know your own worth. Then multiply it by at least a hundred, or a hundred thousand
Being a Benchee can leave one feeling inadequate and insecure. When someone doesn’t reciprocate our feelings, it’s easy for us to question or own self-worth even if we are confident go-getters in every other aspect of our lives. We may try to change ourselves thinking it would finally get them to like us back. But if he’s really stringing you along, nothing you do will change that. The right person will cherish us for who we are, flaws and all, and hopefully we can do the same. So if you’re ever feeling out of sorts, find someone who loves you – be it a friend or a family member– and look at yourself through their eyes. You’ll see that you’re a unique unicorn and anyone who doesn’t see that isn’t worth your time.
10. Sometimes, you can make lemons out of lemonade
The back burner is not a pleasant place to be in. But sometimes being in the slow-moving lane can actually open your eyes to what you DO want. Before I met my Bencher I wasn’t really in the market for a relationship. Focused on work, I was content believing love would just serendipitously fall into my lap. But after this, I realize that I do want a deeper, more meaningful connection with a person I can share a life with and I’m willing to put myself out there. Also, having to take stock of myself, I ended up realizing that despite my many flaws, which my Bencher kept pointing out, I’m many kinds of amazing. My future ride-or-die-homie is out there, and hopefully since I’ve stood up from this bench, and all the benches I’ve ever sat at, I might just be a little bit closer to finding him.