If you've ever used a dating app, you'll probably be familiar with the term 'ghosting'. No, it's not throwing a white sheet over your head and jumping our at your housemate (though that would be more fun, tbh). It's actually a name given to the pretty harsh practice of ditching someone you're dating by vanishing into thin air.
You cut all contact with them; become a literal ghost. Get it? Yeah, told you it was mean. But in this world we live in with so many potential hotties at our fingertips, we can't waste time on duds if we think there might be someone better out there for us.
But ghosting has got a new dating trend hot on its heels if recent reports are to be believed: benching. And it's almost worse than your date vanishing into thin air.
Benching, a term which appears to have been coined by New York Magazine writer Jason Chen, occurs when you start dating someone and you think they're nice. They're okay. You're not, like, mad about them, but they tick a fair few boxes.
Do you carry on dating them, or sack them off and move on to the next one? This is where benching comes into play; instead of going for either of the two former rash options, you simply place the date in your mental 'maybe' folder - 'bench them' as they say in the sporting world - and scout around to see what's out there.
If someone better comes along, you'll hit your bench-ee with a Simon Cowell-esque "it's a no from me", but if no-one comes to sweep you off your feet? You'll stick rather than twist, thanks.
All pretty harsh if you're the person being benched, right? But the game is: don't let the person you're benching realise they've been benched. It's all about seeming just keen enough to keep them hanging on, without having to put a ton of effort in.
Talk about game-playing.
"Benchers will tell you that their behavior is a way to put a relationship on hold, to hit pause before deciding how they really want to play it," Chen explains. "But if we're to be honest, benching is just the slow kiss-off."
Which is why he warns: "Know that if it's happening to you, you're getting dumped, even if the bencher doesn't know it yet. No successful relationship was ever born from a situation in which one person strung the other along until — in a moment of epiphany — he realised everything glorious and noble and luminescent was in front of him all along. When benching happens, the old maxim is true. He's just not that into you."
And well, he's got a point, hasn't he.
Wow, I have just typed the word bench more times in this past half hour than I ever have in my life. Bench bench bench bench bench.
Originally appeared on Cosmoplitan.co.uk