Benching and Rotation: Why These Dating Practices Won’t Help You Find Love
You learn a lot of things at school that never seem relevant when you become an adult. I can count on one hand the number of times I've solved a problem using Shakespeare. And quadratic equations? Nope. No idea why I need those.
There is one thing which has come up that I did learn...but it's being applied in completely the wrong way. And it rarely ends well.
I'm talking about the crop rotation we learned about in geography. If you're a farmer, it's essential. It makes sure you get the best yield of crops for the nutrients available in the soil.
And now it’s been applied to dating. Badly.
They're both practices that have emerged from within dating. The trends we're going to talk about today are actively advised by a lot of coaches. And we're going to explain why they’re such a terrible idea.
Rotating Your Partners and Benching
The idea of 'crop rotation' is promoted by dating coaches as a way to avoid looking needy. If you're dating several people at once, you can 'rotate' them so you don't get too attached to any one person.
That way, if it all goes south, you've got others to fall back on. If one of them isn’t quite meeting your needs, you rotate to the next one (but you keep the first one as a backup). Using rotation apparently also means you don't come across as 'too keen' or 'desperate' to the one you prefer.
Benching is a similar process. People may date four or five people at once. They prefer one of them, but they'll 'bench' the other ones until they’re needed. Think of it like a sports team having a group of substitutes.
If the person's favourite date isn't available, they've got a series of backups to choose from. These people generally have issues around being alone. They can't stand not to have someone at their beck and call.
In either scenario, whether you're being rotated or benched, it boils down to one thing. The person doing it isn't interested enough to commit to you. With this going on, 30% of adults might have used online dating but only 12% have found a committed relationship online.
How It Works
Let's say you're Michael. You've dating Beth, Sarah, Lauren, and Kim. They're all lovely and you enjoy spending time with all of them.
With rotation, you might see them all once a week. But you'd vary who you spent the weekend with. You might send them more texts when it's "their" week for attention.
If you're using benching, you pick a favourite. Let's say it's Beth. You invite her to everything first and she's met your friends. But she's not always available, so Sarah, Lauren, and Kim make good back-ups.
So if you're any of those three girls, you have no way of knowing that you're on the bench. You're just someone for Michael to kill time with until Beth's free again. Even if Beth suddenly gets a boyfriend, Michael might add a new girl to the rotation rather than committing to one of the other three girls.
How Can I Tell If I'm On The Bench?
If you're on the bench, you'll get last-minute invitations to events. Your crush or date will probably already be out with friends. You swung an invite because their other 'substitutes' had other plans. Yet your date wasn’t making time for you, he’s letting you tag along to something he was already doing.
By contrast, you never get a firm 'yes' if you invite him to anything. If he does come along, he only agrees at the last minute. After all, he was waiting to see what his favourite was up to. When his favourite is busy, he agrees to see you instead.
You might be on the bench if you get on great in person, but rarely hear from them between dates. It is also possible this person might just be useless at texting. If so, check to see who makes the plans. Does he invite you out to events and make concrete plans? Then that sounds okay. If you only hear from him at the last minute, listen to those warning bells.
Benchers will often hesitate to make any kind of firm commitment. They won't tell you they are seeing other people, but they also don't want to talk about it. If they're not keen to make a commitment to you, it's possible they're hoping someone better will come along.
And I don't say that to be mean. I'm not saying you're not good enough and that you'll only ever be second best. But that's what they're thinking.
Sometimes, benchers won't even pay compliments. If you tell them you enjoyed spending time with them, they might say they had fun too. Yet they don't return the compliment. They don't even want to commit to saying they like spending time with you.
What The Coaches Say
Some coaches think these approaches are fine. I've even seen one expert describe benching as a "healthy" way to date. The tactics are designed to let you 'try before you buy'. You get to see a lot of people to see who you're most compatible with.
It's also a way to stop yourself investing in a person before they're ready to invest in you. Some people start treating the person they're dating like their partner - whether that person wants to be their partner or not. This just leads to heartache if they don't.
On their own, both of those ideas are fine. You don't want to rush into anything with the first guy you meet. Getting to know someone is the best way to ensure you're compatible.
It's the approach that's the problem.
What Can I Do Instead?
If you think you might be on a bench, you have two options. Leave the bench and save your time and energy for someone who wants a serious relationship too. Or ask them about their behaviour. Just don’t expect a helpful answer.
Then stop dating the 'old' way and start dating the 'new' way. That means not wasting time swiping on guys you're not interested in. Stop keeping guys in reserve in case things don't work with the one you want. Learn how to meet the right guys so you enjoy strong connections with compatible men.
Keen to learn about the new way of dating? Book your free Love Life Analysis and learn how to find love with intelligence.