Back in college I rarely, if ever, got asked out on dates. Some of this was of my own doing. I was pretty focused on my studies and activities to the near exclusion of everything else. I was always driven, career-focused and writing. I still wanted to date though, but often the men I liked either didn’t like me back, were emotionally unavailable or were trying to put me in “the reserves.”

“The Reserves” is like being put on a bench on a sports team. This is where a not-too-bad guy or girl (but more often than not, a guy) has some options and prospects, but isn’t yet interested in settling down. So his or her “team” consists of a bunch of women or men s/he bedhops and juggles. “The Reserves” is where you put the people you like, in a serious manner, but can’t/won’t commit to. I realized I was in a lot of guys’ reserves when I complained to a close frat brother of mine about why no one I actually liked ever asked me out.

“Danielle, you’re not the kind of girl guys date,” he said. “You’re the kind they marry.”

I think that was supposed to be a compliment. But if no one ever dated me, how in the hell was I supposed to ever get married?

There are different kind of reserves a man or woman may get stuck in. Like, ambitious people who aren’t where they want to be in life yet and are waiting for the WORLD’S MOST PERFECT CONDITIONS THAT WILL NEVER COME will put someone in the reserves, thinking they’re not “good” enough yet for them. This is the equivalent to being a shitty team with the chance to sign LeBron James, but not taking it because you’re too afraid he’ll say no. These folks always have a ton of excuses why you and them would never work. That they need to finish school, get that job, get that house, grow up, become a millionaire and THEN when the stars align and when the night is just right and the Cubs win the World Series they’ll finally, FINALLY, make themselves be known.

But that is so pathetic on so many levels.

I meet a lot of men and I have male friends, but I often don’t get asked out by the same quality of male friend I’m able to make. My male friends are all smart, well-rounded, charming individuals of diverse talents. But the guys who actually pursue me are just any-ol-damn-bodies most of the time. The kind that hit on girls by the volume, for whom rejection is as common as death and taxes, and like to play the hook-up lotto in hopes of getting lucky.

One of my close guy friends went into this fantasy about the type of guy he thought I should be with, not realizing he was kind of describing himself, but he didn’t see himself that way. He told me I was supposed to be with someone smart and creative and witty, who could keep up with me and would have a great banter. When I pointed out that we had those things, he went into a billion-and-one excuses why he was too messed up to date me.

Fine. I don’t dwell on these things. I move on. I want someone who wants me. I want someone I want in return. I’m not afraid of approaching people and I’m not afraid of telling people how I feel.I’m capable of getting dates and meeting people. But sometimes this backfires because every now and then I give in to a guy I know is a jerk just because I want to go out and have a nice time. This is, essentially, how I wound up with the starter husband.

I still remember the reaction on the college campus of “Wait? What? That’s who she ended up with?” But while countless guys were psyching themselves out for imaginary reasons why they could never date me because they weren’t “ready,” and while other’s put me in the bench for the fantasy wife sweepstakes, the asshole I married made his intentions known and pursued me with vigor and passion. He was relentless and eventually I was won over by that relentlessness. After all, he was taking a stand.

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  • nai nai

    Me and the bench have spent way more time together than i would like. Usually when a guy gets to know me, we hit it off great. But, i usually end up becoming one of the best friends rather than a girlfriend. So needless to say, I have alot of close guy friends. I once asked one of my guy friends why no one wants to really date me and he threw me the line of “you’re not a normal girl” . Oh course i was like what the hell does that mean and he went on to explain that i’m they type of girl a guy needs to settle down and grow old with. Most guys know that you aren’t the type of girl who tolerates BS and deserves a broken heart so they leave you alone because they know you’re worth more than they are willing to give at the moment. I was flattered but it still didn’t change the fact that i still desired to be in a relationship

  • Chelsea

    Great article…I hate to admit but I’ve been there,this last time with someone I thought I would eventually be with forever. My bf moved out the other day…saying he was sick of me fighting with him wth when someone calls you names and says F have off you tend to fight back. Long story short…when I read this and look back unfortunately I was in the reserves. I took him back too many times to remember.I let him move in back and forth and he always put me down in a way like you could do better or my friend she’s really smart. I can say I’m a damn good young lady but I alwaya get the short end and it hurts so bad it unexplainable especially when you dont know what you did or if theyre just making excuses to sub someone else in…anyways hopefully I remrmber this article and stopping taking crap 30 is just around the corner…I live once.

    • That’s awful that you went through that, and yes you do deserve better.

  • I can totally relate to this post. I have often been on the reserves list in past ‘relationships’ and hated when guys would do this. I believe if you really want to be with someone, you would be with them, no ‘bench’ needed. As I’ve matured and grown in confidence, I’ve learned not to tolerate this act that some guys put on.

  • Arcy

    I have definitely been on the bench before, and have often heard the phrase ‘you’re the kind they marry’. But what I failed to realized until recently is that I have been putting a certain someone, one of my male friends, in the reserves. He’s been interested in me for a while, but it’s something that I was always apprehensive about because he’s an amazing person, and I know that we could potentially be really serious– in the past that was something I just wasn’t ready for (relationships are something that I don’t regard lightly, probably why I’ve only had one boyfriend). It was also an issue of insecurity; I honestly didn’t understand why he would be interested in someone like me, and often felt undeserving of his attention. Almost 10 years later, we’ve both grown, and have decided to pursue a romantic relationship. He often mentions how he wished we would have gotten together earlier. Yet, I’m happy it’s happening now–over these years I have developed a love and respect for him that can only develop over time.