Dating is already hard, why make it harder?

So, you met someone you think you’ve actually got a shot with. They’re attractive, funny and totally into you—that is, until they completely ghost you. All of the good conversations you’ve had with this person were for naught. All of the time you spent planning your future wedding on Pinterest were a total waste. How could this person you’ve grown to actually like just leave you high and dry? You’re heartbroken and decide to take a break from dating.

Some time passes and you’ve regained confidence in yourself. You’re over the jerk who unexpectedly broke your heart and now it’s on to the next one. You start swiping on Tinder trying to find your next up when your phone buzzes.

Diamond Brown/Dose

What could this person possibly want? Hopefully to apologize for ditching you like the heartless scumbag that they are. You debate whether or not you should even entertain this person. I mean, they did just rip your heart out and shatter it into a million pieces.

You screenshot the text and send it to your closest friends, asking for advice. They tell you to run for the hills, but surprisingly, you defend the ghost. Finally, you give in and reply.

They apologize and make up some BS excuse about why they couldn’t reply for the last month and a half. Something about it being a “really hard time” or having “a lot going on right now.” You’re sympathetic (because after all, you do have a heart), then your situationship continues like nothing happened.

Sure, this seems like a normal thing This situation is a dating trend much like ghosting, but much more damaging. “Benching” as we’d like to call it, is the type of relationship you have with someone who hits you up on when it’s convenient for them, then ghosts you when something (read: someone) better comes along. Sure, any variation of this totally sucks, but it’s especially damaging to your ego and confidence after a while.

I’m not a relationship expert by any means, but I do know a toxic relationship when I see one. It may seem like all fun and games during the highs of the relationship, but it truly takes a toll on us after a while. When a ghost comes back into your life, do yourself a favor and run like hell.

‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!’

And before anyone sharpens their pitchforks ready to attack the first guy they see, realize that this epidemic is happening to both girls and guys. James Rodriguez,* a 20-year-old student living in Chicago, felt betrayed after he was benched by a girl he had befriended his freshman year of college. “We never dated, but we ended up having sex before the year ended,” he explains, “She lived out of state and went back home. We kept calling and texting each other, but one day she stopped responding.”

He explained that this was his first time being intimate with a girl, leading him to think that he had did something wrong. “I thought something might have happened and maybe she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore,” says Rodriguez, “I didn’t like that I was just left in the dark.”

‘How I Met Your Mother’

When things like this happen, we start to question ourselves and think that we’re the problem and that we’re going to be alone for the rest of our lives. What could we have done differently? What is it that I should change about me so I never have to go through this heartache again?

Once the girl reappeared in James’ life, she had revealed that she was afraid of commitment and just wanted to remain friends. Whether that was truly the case or not, it was still pretty messed up. Instead of just being upfront with James about what her intentions and expectations were, it led him down a path where he would question his self worth and self-esteem.

The same thing happens to a lot of us. If we just had an honest conversation about what we really want early on, we can determine if we can stay in the comfort zone of our situationship or move on without any hard feelings. Instead of ghosting or even benching someone, how about we put on our grown-up caps and approach relationships with some respect?

*Name has been changed for privacy