To be honest, I've never heard of the term "benching" until recently. Up until the illuminating naming of such a shitty thing to do, I've always just called it getting "mindfucked," "used" or "side-chicked."
While you don't necessarily have to be dating someone who is in a relationship in order to be side-chicked, the concept is the same. You come second to someone else. You are riding the bench until the coach decides the game is close to being over, they're down by 50 and they can rotate in the JV players.
Maybe you're used to being a starter. This sudden change in the lineup has thrown you for a loop, and you find yourself trying to decipher a situation that truly has no solution.
Much to my disdain, I have been benched for the last three years. So, my friends, I will give you a bit of advice about how to avoid being benched for longer than one inning.
Here are some tell-tale signs you are being benched much longer than the seventh-inning stretch:
1. He hasn't introduced you to his family or close friends.
If you've been hooking up or talking to someone for a prolonged period of time, it's only natural the next step should be meeting his family or close friends. If the only friends you've met have been ones at the bar, or if his close friends don't know who you are, that's a pretty good indicator he doesn't care enough to talk about you with them or want them to know about you.
If you've been steadily hooking up and he hasn't mentioned or invited you to meet anyone in his family, it's because he has no intentions of doing so. The guy who kept me on the bench for three years once told me he didn't introduce me to his family because he didn't want them asking "one billion questions."
Questions? Like what? Maybe questions such as, "Who is the girl you've been hooking up with for the last 36 months?" or "Why haven't we ever heard your name mentioned prior to this?"
If he doesn't introduce you to the people who matter most in his life, it's because you don't matter in his. He doesn't feel this will last long enough to ease the barrage of questions his family will ask him, and the incessant needling from his mother about your background or when you are coming over again next. Take this as a hint. Get out now.
2. He doesn't hang out with you the morning after a hookup.
This one is a thorn in my side. In my opinion, anyone who is intimate with someone they care about deserves at least an hour or two of non-intimacy the morning after a hookup.
One of the worst feelings is being hastily rushed out the door with barely a moment to collect your clothes that are strewn across the room, or feeling like the person couldn't wait to get you out of there. This is a key component to realizing if you feel you are being benched.
If your hookup insists on you leaving as early as possible after every single hookup, or if he constantly has an excuse as to why he can't hang out with you the next day, it's because he doesn't want to hang out with you.
He might seem like he enjoys hanging out with you while you're hooking up with him, but it's just so he can get what he wants. He wouldn't waste his time getting breakfast with someone he doesn't plan on dating or with whom he does not see a future.
3. His texts come exclusively at 2 am on Saturday nights.
PEOPLE, this is THE red flag of being benched. If your phone rings between the hours of 11 pm to 2 am on a Friday or Saturday night exclusively, go ahead and delete his number now. There's one reason he's texting you during this time, and it's so he can get some. If he doesn't text you during the week to see how you're doing, it's because once again, he does not care.
Also, I've determined that if the texts start to arrive later and later, it's because he didn't find someone else at the bar first, and he is looking at you as a second option. If he did not text you that evening to see what your plans were or which bar you would be going to, it's because he had planned on trying to pick up someone else first. You're just the back-up plan.
If you don't want to be benched and you have feelings for this person, you must make it very clear you are not someone to text only after he has had a few vodka waters, or if he struck out with the people he was trying to get with.
4. He'll date someone, start hooking up with you and then make sure you know he "needs time to be single."
This one also angers me. I've been side-chicked for so long with people who enter relationships, and then break up with the women and start hooking up with me. Being benched is essentially the same thing as being a rebound. If you've been hooking up with someone for a long time, and if he's continuously been in and out of relationships (never with you), call it quits.
He had the opportunity to date you before and after he met those other people. The excuses, "I just need time to be single," and "I can't jump right into another relationship" are bullshit.
Eventually, these people will enter another relationship with a person who isn't you. You've been waiting on the sidelines for them to come running to you with open arms, but the truth is, people know pretty quickly if they want to make things serious with someone.
If you've watched this person date continuously, and they have never once mentioned getting serious with you, it's because it's never going to happen. The biggest mistake you can make is wasting your time with someone like this.
After a while, if you continue to put up with this behavior, these types of people will lose all respect for you. The chances of you dating are completely kaput. They know they can treat you like second-string, and you will stick around for it. That's the mistake I made, and it's one I will not make again.
People need to be benched once in their lifetimes in order to realize what they truly deserve. I don't condone being treated like shit, but I think you have to have this experience so you'll never settle for being treated second-rate again.
When you step back from the situation and realize you were benched for so long, you will probably be pretty mad at yourself. You'll understand why your friends were so angry with you, and how they reached their maximum capacity of being therapists. You'll start to see that person for all of his flaws, and you'll realize how delusional you were in thinking you were anything more than someone who was riding the bench.
However, if you're lucky, you'll find a new coach who will make sure you're a starting player.