I'm not here for regrets. For the most part, I don't have any. But we've all had to kick ourselves from time to time about something we did that we should have known better than to do. I've found myself feeling like that frequently as of late.
About four or five years ago, I was out in the cold streets of South Florida when I met a nice young lady named Alex*. She was getting ready to graduate college and seemed to have all her ducks in a row. Meanwhile, I was as lost as I've ever been. At the time, I had two other women I was casually seeing. Not to mention, I was still trying to shake off a crazy ex. For whatever reason, Alex kept a special place in my heart and on my bench.
I knew she was different in the sense that I wasn't interested in her solely for her physical attributes. In fact, she and I never got physical, which may or may not have made her all the more special in my eyes. There was something there that led me to believe she had the potential to be a long-term suitor. But in the short term, I was fresh out of undergrad and two consecutive relationships, and I knew I was just trying to celebrate my freedom just like a newly released prisoner would.
So, I put her on the “bench."
I never even heard of the term “benching” at the time. In fact, I just found out what it meant when I read this Elite Daily article. But it turns out, it was exactly what I did. I kept Alex around, yet at a distance because I knew I wasn't ready to be everything she deserved. Some girls might call this a fuckboy activity or whatever.
We communicated regularly. And at that time, consistently meant once or twice a week for me. But deep down, I knew I could never give her exactly what she deserved. So, I kept her close enough to me for safe keeping, just in case I would one day be ready.
But at the end of the day, she was cool. We were cool. There was never any pressure. Whenever we did link up, we had a non-sexual good time.
Things became really iffy when I met my soon-to-be ex, Christina*. I'm not sure what happened. A different kind of fuse was lit almost immediately, and I fell head first against my better judgement.
Once again, I pushed poor Alex further back on my bench. Really, I pushed her off of the team entirely without explanation. She had effectively been ghosted. Now, I was all of the sudden chest-deep in the most volatile and trying relationship I ever had in my life, and I was determined to be faithful.
I'm not sure if Alex even knows what happened. To be honest, I'm not even sure where she stood or where we stood. But, I do know she went from benched to ghosted all in the name of a girl who turned out to be horrible for me.
We all make mistakes, but fast-forward a few years later. Alex and I are back on speaking terms, and Christina is clear out the picture after making a few brief reappearances. The more I talk to Alex, the more I realize she is the type who should have been the star player, not sitting on the bench.
The problem is, we're miles apart now. And by miles, I mean she's in Florida and I'm in Washington, DC. Opportunity missed. A dream deferred.
We recently met up during a quick vacation I took to Miami. It was then when I realized how awful of a coach I might be. I “benched” this superstar for an injury-prone, inconsistent PLAYER who ultimately proved to be detrimental to the team. When I looked her in the eyes and came clean about what I had done, she didn't hesitate to forgive me. What an angel. She even hit me with the “You never know what the future may hold” line.
But, I do know what the future doesn't hold: I'm never going back to Florida on a permanent basis. She's never leaving the sandy beaches and the year-round 80-degree temperatures that her hometown provides.
In the game of life, you will bench, and you will be benched. You will ghost, and you will be ghosted. If you're the bencher or the ghoster, be careful. Analyze the situation carefully the same way a sports coach or GM would before making a decision that could affect your future, both in the long and short term.
If you're the one being benched or ghosted, remember it usually works out for the best. Don't take it too personally for too long. They usually come back around. By the time they do realize their gaffe, you're probably onto better things. If you're not, then you now have your opportunity.
My name is Shaun. Don't be like Shaun. Be smarter than Shaun. Bench carefully.
*Names have been changed.