Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, you've definitely had someone on the bench before. And by "on the bench," I mean you've got someone waiting in the wings, who you like just fine, but probably don't like as much as this other person you know. You've also probably been on somebody else's bench, in which case you know how much it sucks to be stuck waiting around for someone to call you in to play. It's the worst. Don't let yourself be benched for too long.
1. They usually only ever invite you out at the last minute.
And it's usually when they're already out with friends. They're just not making time to hang out with you specifically.
2. Everything feels great when you're together, but they're hard to communicate with otherwise.
Sure, it feels like they're committed when you're actually together IRL, but when someone actually likes you, they usually try to make some sort of effort to communicate.
3. They don't fully commit when you invite them to things.
They'll say things like, "Possibly!" or, "I'll see if I'm busy but sounds fun!" when you invite them out. What they're probably doing is waiting for someone else (who's not on their bench) to come through.
4. Their enthusiasm about hanging out with you is constantly fluctuating.
What's likely happening is that they only turn to you when someone they like better is being a flake (Maybe they're on someone else's bench?), because the last thing they want is to be alone.
5. They're constantly sending mixed signals.
They'll say they really like you but then also say they don't want anything serious. Both of things these are probably true, and it can be incredibly confusing for you if you're starting to get invested in this other person.
6. You're always the one to text first or make plans first.
When someone really likes someone else, they make it a point to see them. You shouldn't feel like you're the only one who's actually interested in keeping this relationship going.
7. They regularly back out of plans or ask to bring friends along to things you have planned.
They just aren't taking you, or your time, seriously, and that's unfair.
8. When you compliment them or say something nice, they respond graciously but don't often return the compliment.
This is that thing where you'll text something like, "Hey, I had a really great time this weekend, you're cool and I like hanging out with you," and they'll say something like, "Thanks! yeah I had fun too." ????
9. They're really flighty about discussing other people they may or may not be seeing.
Any time the subject of exclusivity or dating other people comes up, they get dodgy. This doesn't necessarily mean they're definitely seeing other people, but it does mean they don't want to lock down a commitment with you, because a bencher is always looking for someone better to come along or resurface from their past.
10. You feel a little bit stressed all the time about them.
You're low-key waiting for them to just stop replying altogether, or finally say something like, "I think we're better off as friends," or whatever, and that's incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing. You'll feel so much better if you just ask them, straightforward, what's up, and then make the decision for yourself to get off the bench.