Relationship experts have revealed the top signs to look out for when dating to avoid being “benched” – a subtle practice that makes “ghosting” look like child’s play.

Due to the rapid rise of dating apps over the last decade, terms such as “cuffing season,” “Ben phase,” and more recently the “777 rule” have entered our everyday rhetoric.

Probably the most common warning sign in dating is ghosting – ignoring someone you've been talking to and disappearing from their life without explanation.

Clear signs of “displacement” were observed. (Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images)

However, relationship experts recently described a new dating trend called “benching,” which they say is worse than ghosting, if you can believe that.

Unfortunately, benching occurs when you are relegated to being someone else's Plan B instead of Plan A.

Even if the person you are dating continues to see you, text you, and interact with you on social media, you are no longer a priority to them.

Instead, they might turn their attention to another person or even a hobby or career move, leaving you on the bench.

“When you substitute, you put a substitute on the bench, you don't let him participate in the player's active life, but you make him feel like he's part of it because he gets a better seat than the players in the stands,” says Claudia de Llano, a licensed couples and family therapist.

So if you are interested in football, imagine that you were dropped from the starting line-up and instead another player was brought in who the manager believes would excel in that position.

Of course, it is possible to stop being relegated to the bench and become a top priority when dating again.

However, in most cases it can be quite difficult to return to the starting position.

But how do you know when you've been relegated to the bench? And is there a risk that the relationship will fall apart?

Well, if you are reading this and are worried that you have fallen victim to this dating trend, then don’t worry because there are several key signs that you can look out for.

One-sided interactions

If you're the one texting first, planning the dates, seeking confirmation, and making all the effort, it could be a sure sign that you've been benched.

Keep in mind, however, that your potential flame may simply be a poor communicator. However, if your relationship didn't start out as a one-sided affair to begin with, you may want to look a little closer.

If your partner suddenly becomes less available, it could mean you've been relegated to the bench. (Tom Werner / Getty Images)

If your partner suddenly becomes less available, it could mean you've been relegated to the bench. (Tom Werner / Getty Images)


They say you usually know what's right and what's wrong from your gut. If you think something has changed between you and your partner, you may be onto something.


One day you might receive tons of detailed messages from the person you're dating, and other days you might only receive sporadic, monosyllabic replies.

Sometimes they are very cold, sometimes they are cold with you and you never know where you stand.

If this inconsistent behavior applies to your relationship, it could be a clear sign that you have suffered rejection.

limited availability

Another sign that you've been benched is when the person you're dating is no longer able to spend much or any free time with you.

Suddenly their free Sunday afternoons are booked up, they don't have time for lunch on Tuesday and they find every excuse they can think of not to see you.

They were all warned.

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