Benching. Breadcrumbing. Ghosting.
You may not have heard these words before, but if you’re single and dating in today’s world, chances are you know what I’m talking about.
If you’ve been a victim of one of these dirty dating practices, you have my sympathies. If you’ve ever knowingly committed one of these offenses, you’re on my sh*t list. And if you’re still in the dark about what I’m talking about, you’re either happily married or living under a rock.
If you want to keep someone in the game, but don’t exactly want them to suit up and play, then “Benching” is for you.
This is a great dating strategy for selfish wimps who want to keep their options open and their players in rotation. Benchers love to keep people guessing. They’re neither straightforward nor direct, and they never tell you where you stand because they never move forward with the relationship.
Instead, they string you along by sending mixed signals, throwing you a bone every once in a while, and texting you just enough to keep your hopes up.
When I was single, I was benched by a guy I met online. He said he was divorced, but by his excessive texting, excuse making, and chronic unavailability, he made me realize he was more likely still married, had other chicks on the roster, or just wanted to screw around.
This guy hardly called, always cancelled, but he kept texting to say, “hi!”
I have a girlfriend who just went through something similar with a guy who kept her on the bench for almost six months before she finally had enough.
He was a sweet-talker, but talking wasn’t his strong suit. Conversations rarely happened because his phone would suddenly “die,” and plans would fall through because something would always “come up.”
But it didn’t stop him from constantly texting to say he was thinking of her.
Typical bencher. Buys time and plays the field while decimating your self-esteem and dignity. Nice.
With benchers, you’re always wondering: “Will I make the cut? Will I ever be a starter, or only a sub? Or, will I stay on the bench and be relegated to watching from the sidelines?”
My advice? Get off the bench and go play for a team that truly wants you.
Another dirty dating trend I despise is “Breadcrumbing.” It’s as manipulative as benching, but even more so because unlike benching, you never actually meet the person.
Breadcrumbing is what it sounds like: a person who sends ambiguously flirtatious digital crumbs meant to lure you in and lead you on.
Breadcrumbers have no real intention of connecting on any substantive level. They just want to play with your head, mess with your heart, and toy with your emotions by keeping you tormented, oops, I mean interested. It’s the perfect M.O. for narcissists needy for attention and ego stroking.
A common practice for breadcrumbers is to come on strong, string you along with non-committal messages, then go radio silent. Then, out of the blue, they’ll pop up on social media with a comment on Facebook or a compliment on Instagram just to mess with your mind and give you false hope.
Breadcrumbers love to hide behind their texts and dating apps, and throw just enough bait into the water to keep you swimming. Personally, I’d like to slap these people across the face with a dead fish.
A guy friend of mine has been trying to pursue a woman he met on Tinder for weeks now, but for all the fun, flirty messaging going on between them, he’s no closer to meeting her than he was the day he swiped right. I keep telling him to give it up already, but he’s certain it’s going to happen any minute.
It’s not going to happen. All he’s doing is feeding her ego, while she’s feeding him breadcrumbs for his unrequited efforts.
Man and woman cannot live on breadcrumbs alone!
Ever have a love interest vanish into thin air, right in the middle of your courtship without a trace, an explanation, or even a heads up? You can feel it coming: the texts get fewer, calls cease, plans don’t pan out, and you’re left asking yourself: “WTF?”
Welcome to “Ghosting,” the world’s all-time worst dating behavior, and preferred exit strategy for spineless cowards.
We all know ending things with someone isn’t easy; we all know breaking up is hard to do. But there is a right way to do it, and it doesn’t involve triggering someone’s deepest insecurities by giving them the silent treatment or disappearing off the radar.
Ghosting doesn’t get you off the hook. In fact, all ghosting does is confirm you’re a total sissy.
There are tons of psychological reasons why people ghost, but from what I’ve read and experienced, it has everything to do with fear of conflict, avoiding confrontation and difficult conversations, and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.
There are also tons of better ways to end a relationship than falling off the face of the earth or being a d*ck. My personal favorite is just biting the bullet and being honest. It might be painful for a few minutes, but it’s infinitely less painful than running into your ghosted ex at Rite-Aid as he picks up his Popov vodka and Xanax.
Benchers, Breadcrumbers, and Ghosters of the world, if you’re reading this, do us a favor and man up. Victims, you too need to grow a pair and stop accepting this bad behavior from your dates. If you’re accepting it, you’re encouraging it.
I dated a lot prior to getting married. Some dates were great, some weren’t. When it wasn’t a match, I said thank you and wished them well. No benching, breadcrumbing, or ghosting. Just straight up truth.
“Treat people the way you want to be treated” is the golden rule of dating – especially in the age of technology. Don’t let Internet dating turn you into an asshole.
If you want to find love and make a genuine connection, then say it. If you just want to hook-up, say that too. And if you just want to be friends, let that be known. Whatever you do, be clear, be courteous, and keep your ego in check.
Dating doesn’t have to be dirty (unless you want it to be, of course).