First there was ghosting. Some of us know the painful sting of thinking it's going pretty well with someone you're interested in, then, before you know it, they Casper themselves out of your life.
Next, we had breadcrumbing. Something most of us are guilty of. It's dropping those likes and texts just to remind someone we still exist. And yes, most of the time, doing that also makes you an asshole.
Now, there's another way to fuck with someone's head while you're in a non-relationship. It's called "benching".
Benching is essentially what you do to your BBB: you keep him on the bench indefinitely. You never really let him into your pants, but at the same time you don't let him go from the team, either. In other words, betches have been doing this for years and only now is NY Mag catching on.
Some people might say benching is basically just a tactic you use to not feel lonely and always have a date when, in fact, you're just being an ass and intentionally jerking someone around. We say, every so often we'll call that BBB off the bench in a night of drunken poor decision making, so like, it's not like we're completely all talk. And let's be honest, most of the time the guy knows what's up—if you're making vague plans and then cancelling them the day before repeatedly, he can put two and two together. Hopefully. If he doesn't, you should probably consider why you're seeing someone with the emotional acuity of a potato.
Is it kind of shitty to lead someone on indefinitely? Maybe. Okay, probably. Is it any less shitty than inexplicably going no-contact or dropping hints every so often that you might be into them, and then never acting on it? No, not really. Let's call a spade a spade. Anything other than open, direct communication (ew) is manipulative and crappy for the person on the receiving end. This is not exactly news. We all know it; we just choose to act otherwise. Like, you can give it whatever "trendy" name you want, but honestly, people have been acting shitty and indirect for decades. Like
Taylor Swift 3LW said in the year 2000 (16 fucking years ago!), playas gon' play. This is not a new phenomenon unique to millennials. Now can you get off our dick, media?