Originally published at: YourTango.com
Photo credit: Your Tango
Newsflash: men aren't the only ones benching in the dating game
Benching is the latest dating craze to take social media by storm. Benching is when you keep guys warm on the sidelines in case someone better comes along, and if he fails to show up, you still have your rookies. No self-respecting person wants to be on the bench. Much of media attention has focused on men’s illustrious use and abuse of the bench. As a personal Matchmaker and Date Coach, I’m like the catcher in the baseball game: I see everything. We all know the famous line "He's Just Not that Into You," but take one step into my office in Beverly Hills, and you’ll see that a lot of times, the women are the ones playing the game.
Women bench just as much as men do. A few of our Bachelors spent months pursuing female friends who always said yes to their invitations, but when the men finally revealed their feelings for the them, the women said that they wanted to remain friends. Women have a hard time turning men down; they want to avoid hurting their feelings. When men like a female friend, they will devote time to her in hopes that the friendship will turn into something more. The longer you subconsciously string him along, however, the more invested he will feel and the more devastating it will be when you share your true feelings. You’re also preventing him from meeting the right woman who will love all of the attributes that you’re indifferent about in him. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Here’s what to do if you’re just not that into him:
· Give him a chance. First and foremost, first dates tell little about the true character of a man. Often when the first date feels too good to be true, it is. Charmers have their name for a reason. I advise our Bachelorettes to see the man again, even if the date lacked the spark that you desire. One Bachelorette gave him a second chance, and now they’re so in love, married, and just had a baby! Another one of our Bachelorettes has been in an exhilarating relationship for a few months with the man who failed to give her fireworks on the first date. Remember, at least one of ABC’s Bachelors gave the first impression rose to a stalker. #ObscureBachelorReferences
· One word: boundaries. Reserve one-on-one’s for men who you find romantically attractive. If you just see him as a friend and know that there is zero chance of that changing, only spend time with him in groups. A caveat, I do recommend that our Bachelorettes get to know their suitors in groups as well as one on one dates; it reveals the man’s character more quickly than romantic dates do. Even so, you can make your boundaries clear with your words and actions. You like him and want to get to know him more, or you’re just friends. This means that you must turn down tickets from Mr. Wrong even to that Final Four basketball game that you were dying to see. This gives you more time to meet the right man for you. Male and female friendships are tricky, so stay away from the blurred lines that could break his heart.
· Cuddle with your dog, not your guy friend. You may have just broken up with a boyfriend, and although you recognize the high quality of the man who just asked you out, you know that you need to heal before dating again. If you tell him the truth, he will respect you for it and maybe still be single once you’ve healed.
· Let it fade. While heeding my guideline to respond within 24 hours, limit the frequency of your texts so that they taper off gradually. There’s zero need for a break up email, conversation, or text if you have only seen the man once or twice. When he reaches out, you can make your answers sweet, polite, but short. “Have a great week” also seems to work well. If he still contacts you after a few days of this, you might need to tell him that you think that he’s great, but you just don’t feel the spark that he deserves.
While I always recommend giving the relationship a chance and letting it play out naturally, when you know that you’re just not that into him, turn him down gracefully. According to Elizabeth Gaskell, leading men on, even if you think that you’re just being friendly, hurts them, as well as your reputation. Let your kindness shine, but know your boundaries with men so that they get the right impression. Show interest to those who you want to know more, and give those relationships a chance, but when you know it’s over, take him off of your bench so that he can star in the right woman’s romantic future. Honesty may feel difficult in the moment, but Mr. Wrong will thank you later for your sensitivity that caused him to find the right woman.
Who knows? The Saturday that you were supposed to go to that concert with him could be the night that you meet your future husband.