Benchee. My new name. It’s kind of catchy, don’t you think?
Although stringing your girl along has been a phenomenon forever, the term “benching” was recently coined by New York Magazine columnist Jason Chen and has been receiving brand new attention in the dating world.
My name Benchee, has been with me for more than two years now. Count the first time I was benched by this same guy? Let’s call it an even 35 years!
Being “benched” is when someone leads you on. You’re not truly in his game, but on the side, sitting on the bench. I’m not a stupid person and deep down I’ve known that I’ve been played. I went along with it because I had such a freakin’ good time with him.
Mr. Bencher and I live miles apart now. Years ago, we met in a college chem lab, partners sharing a Bunsen Burner. Sparks flew, instant chemistry. The butterflies were there and he was making them flutter.
He could bench, even back then. I was never his actual girlfriend. Yes, he liked me all right, but he liked other girls too. The confirmation of this appeared on his neck, in the form of a black, blue and purple hickey. Very attractive.
I remember a phone conversation that I had with him. I asked a lot of real questions, too many questions about us. That was it. He was gone. The conversation was too serious for him. I moved out of town that year and there was no contact for 33 years.
Thirty-three years. People change in 33 years, right? A lot can happen in 33 years… marriage, children, career, sickness, death… and you mature… perhaps? Change.
But do we?
I was separated at the time that I looked him up. Nervously I wrote and then, he called! He was married, had three daughters… God’s pay back for his dickish behavior. We emailed back and forth. It was just a bit flirty. After all, we had some mild history.
Months later he and his wife were separating. He was sad and I was supportive, having just gone through a separation and by that time a divorce. But inside, boy, I was doing some kind of wild and crazy, inside-my-body happy dance. I thought, timing. Timing is everything. He has to see how perfect this story is, how it can have a fairy tale ending.
The first time we met for dinner, friends catching up after that 33-year separation, it was bizarre, but fun. He looked different, older. But when I looked at him, smiled at him, I could see him as a 17-year-old boy, with his twinkling blue eyes, smiling back.
Weeks later, we met up in his city and afterwards I was exhilarated, on a natural high. I had crazy feelings for this guy that I’ve known for so long, but really didn’t know. When I left to drive back home, after an hour I realized I was traveling not south, but north… going the wrong way.
In the last two years we’ve met maybe a dozen times. We’ve had romance, laughs and some good talks, confiding about our personal lives. He felt like home to me.
Yet Mr. B had this habit of disappearing, no contact and then reconnecting when it was convenient for him. He wrote texts here and there, kept me dangling. And there were disappointments, times when we made plans and he didn’t come through. All signs of a bencher.
I texted him a question once, “If there wasn’t this distance between us, do you think we would be a thing?” His response, “IDK, likely.” I didn’t jump for joy over that one.
It’s insane. I’m in exactly the same place as I was in college. I’m an option when he needs an ego boost. Or I’m there, on call, when he is having problems with the woman that he’s now dating. Once again, I’m not the girlfriend, but the girl on the side, on the bench.
He says he’s not interested in a long distance relationship. That’s not it, of course. The reason is I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, sexy enough… whatever it is. He knows, it’s there. And, it’s been there for 35 years.
You can’t explain chemistry. I can’t make him feel something he doesn’t feel. I accept that. What I can’t accept any longer is being the benchee. I no longer want to be someone’s back up, someone’s ego booster. A woman needs to feel that she is on top of his list, his priority. Enough of this bencher/benchee bull.
The last time I saw him was on my front porch. I told him that I can’t do this anymore. I want more. And, just like that first serious phone conversation I had over 30 years ago when I asked too many questions, once again, he is gone.
by, Janice Haas
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