• 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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    Article by: Janice Haas

    Janice is the co-author of a humor book, "You Know You’ve Been A Stay-At- Home Mom Too Long When…" She continues to write humorous pieces and hopes to have her screenplay, "Gotta Itch for Mitch," picked up by Judd Apatow or a top Hollywood producer!

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    1. Aphro says:

      Great article. I feel your frustration! Looking forward to more of your articles as your humor comes through.

    2. Rebecca says:

      What a well-written article! You must be proud of your great literary talent, your recognition of what he’s done, and your courage to do something about this!
      His loss!

    3. Christina M says:

      The problem was never: “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.” The problem is and has always been him. Do not believe that there is something wrong with you, so you’ve been benched, but know that there is something wrong with him, that he can’t playing these childish games (something lacking within him) and the proof will be when his newest relationship doesn’t last.

    4. Dottie says:

      Way to go Janice – you deserve so much more than being a benchee. He’s an idiot and you were so brave to stand up to him like that!

    5. Vic says:

      I’m sorry but that guy’s an idiot for letting a good thing pass him by. Kudos to you for realizing that you deserve to be a “starter”, not a “bench player”

    6. Cathy R. says:

      It takes courage to change behavior that feels good at the time but that ultimately makes us feel bad about ourselves. This is something many of us struggle with. Thanks for sharing your journey in this poignant and humorous article. Good luck!

    7. Michelle G says:

      You don’t deserve to be a benchee. No one deserves that. You would think after so many years there would come a level of maturity but mr b has a lot of growing up to do. This was a great well written article. Thanks for sharing.

    8. Deb says:

      A great read that all women who have ever been single will relate too. I’ve been benched a few times too, and I have had the 30 year gap revival. To no end. But, you are pretty enough, smart enough, fun enough. You’re all that and more, so don’t forget it!
      I found it funny, sad and empowering. Thanks for sharing!

    9. renee feldman says:

      Great article! I’m sure this piece will help many other women. Good for you for finding the strength to write this and for having the courage to stand up for yourself. You deserve more than this guy could give you.

    10. Laurie says:

      Hard spot to be in….sitting on that bench. Harder even to recognize it, have the courage to get off that seat, move on and make YOURSELF the priority! Good for your for making that leap! Great article that many women can relate to.

    11. Judy says:

      Great article! It’s painful to have to come to terms with having been benched…but you have done it with courage. Bravo to you!

    12. Barbara Siegel says:

      Great column, really speaks to the truth about some relationships.

    13. Leslie says:

      Great article. Great example of your ability to love and appreciate yourself.

    14. GuitarGirl says:

      I once heard a stand-up comic tell the following joke: getting back with an ex is like putting a carton of spoiled milk back in the fridge hoping it will be good tomorrow. Cut your losses and move on. He doesn’t deserve you! I like the chemistry puns!

    15. Tara says:

      There is a certain comradery in recognizing that at one time or another we have all been benched. What inspires me the most is the resilience of the human heart. It takes a brave woman to ask the serious questions, while recognizing the answer might mean moving on…

    16. Vicki says:

      I, too, wore the dubious moniker of “Benchee” before finally finding my “lead-off” hitter. Thank you for sharing your well-written, thoughtful commentary, Ms. Haas!

    17. Ruth Mayer Silverstein says:

      Bravo, Janice, for taking a chance, recognizing the truth and not letting anyone take advantage of your heart!

    18. Ann Vandenbergh says:

      great article and YES, I have been benched too!!

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