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“If I were ever to bump into somebody that I’ve benched,” says Billy, “I’d have nothing to feel bad about.I would put on a smiling face and say hello and ask how he was doing, and he’d have no reason to do anything but the same.” The bencher can walk around feeling like his karmic balance is fully in equilibrium — what’s the worst thing someone can say about him?If you’re ghosted, you get to go through all the stages of grief.

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It’s like they’ve died but keep coming back to life.” I ask Jean if she thinks women can be benchers, and she pauses briefly before responding.

“I think women do play games with men in their lives who have been around for a while, just waiting in the wings,” she says.

“Maybe they’ll text them to get a quick ego stroke.

But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who does this to a new guy she’s ambivalent about seeing.” Conor agrees: “Women, for the most part, still subscribe to the traditional dating idea that if the guy doesn’t reach out, it won’t happen.

If I know that I’m in a position of status because you want me more than I want you, I’ll just keep you dangling. But if we’re to be honest, benching is just the slow kiss-off.

Know that if it’s happening to you, you’re getting dumped, even if the bencher doesn’t know it yet.Or he’ll agree to a date knowing that a day or two before he’ll find some way to cancel.I wonder aloud if Billy and his dates are benching each other, having reached a mutual understanding that the planned meetings will never take place (e.g., the polite veneer of making drink plans with former co-workers we run into on Bleecker Street).It’s despicable, manipulative, selfish behavior — and something we’re all want to pursue, but I haven’t formally broken up with them because why close that door if you don’t have to?” Billy will take too long to respond to texts, always with an apology about how crazy work has been, then send two or three photos he’s taken just to make the exchange seem substantive.It wasn’t until I started seeing someone I was on the fence about that I understood what was going on.

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