It’s despicable, manipulative, selfish behavior — and something we’re all want to pursue, but I haven’t formally broken up with them because why close that door if you don’t have to?” Billy will take too long to respond to texts, always with an apology about how crazy work has been, then send two or three photos he’s taken just to make the exchange seem substantive.“If I were ever to bump into somebody that I’ve benched,” says Billy, “I’d have nothing to feel bad about.I would put on a smiling face and say hello and ask how he was doing, and he’d have no reason to do anything but the same.” The bencher can walk around feeling like his karmic balance is fully in equilibrium — what’s the worst thing someone can say about him? Really, benching is just the modern incarnation of what we used to call leading someone on.I can’t remember many instances where I’ve been benched by a girl, but it’s been pretty easy to benchthem.” Part of what makes benching so attractive is its plausible deniability.In a city where you can run into the guy who Gchat-dumped you or the jerk who ghosted after two months of dating, benching passes the sidewalk-run-in test exquisitely.No, he corrects me, there is always someone doing the benching and someone being benched. “In a romantic scenario, you’re not going to go along with this unless you want to actually date the bencher. ’ But that’s literally sales 101: Ask questions so the buyer thinks you think they’re interesting.” Some might call it gaslighting, but benchers suffering from nice-guy syndrome may not even be trying to exploit the situation.
You no longer have to take someone to lunch or buy them a martini or even have a face-to-face conversation.It wasn’t until I started seeing someone I was on the fence about that I understood what was going on.After two dates, I couldn’t quite decide what I was feeling for this person — whether we would never see each other again or become friends or maybe date down the line — but I didn’t want to end the conversation either.He’d double-tap weeks-old Instagram posts or ask me to have lunch in Greenpoint in half an hour (which is the grossest nonstarter of an invitation if I’ve ever heard one).The texts themselves would invariably be punctuated by baffling kissy-face and see-no-evil monkey emoji — the universal language offlirtation.“Maybe they’ll text them to get a quick ego stroke.