Beware the ‘Ben’ stage: Women share relationship red flags while dating

Not everyone finds “The One” right out of the gate. But thanks to TikTok, that confusing phase of life just before we meet Mr. Right now has a name: The “Ben” stage.

According to GQ, the Ben stage refers to a period of time in a woman’s life where she’s either stuck in a bad relationship or stuck in a cycle of bad dating experiences. Either way, it’s not fun, but she’s not always sure how to break out of it — and sometimes, she’s not even aware that she’s in it.

“Although some people are referring to an actual person named Ben, the name is being used as a catchall for a s***** partner – much to the dismay of some Bens,” the magazine writes.

TikTokers have been talking about the Ben stage for weeks now, with a mixture of honesty and levity.

In most of the videos, the basic gist is when you start seeing red flags — run!

Not when you meet a guy named Ben, but when the guy you meet is displaying “Ben-like” behavior (e.g., not respecting you, jerking you around or making you feel anything less than good about yourself).

But apparently, just like what happened with the name Karen, the Bens of the world are starting to take this conversation personally.

One guy named Ben even went on his local Philadelphia news station to sound off about it.

@fox29philadelphia

A new trend is warning against dating men with the name Ben. We have our own Ben here at FOX 29, and some have argued he’s a ‘catch.’ He tried to defend Bens everywhere this morning. TheBenStage #BenStage #Ben #FOX29Philly #FOX29GoodDay

♬ original sound – FOX 29 Philadelphia

“Hey Ben, how do you feel about being called a ‘red flag’ on TikTok?” the newscaster asked — to which the man replied, “I don’t like it.”

A fellow anchor — coincidentally named Karen — said she could certainly relate and doesn’t like how the internet likes to take a single name and use it to categorize an entire group of people.

Some women on TikTok tend to agree, including one user who said the Ben in her life was actually a godsend.

“I can’t get behind this ‘Ben stage’ bc my sister found a Ben after several awful humans,” shared @mirandabehnke1. “He helped her achieve her dreams of being a parent … So give it a new name besides ‘Ben stage.’”

At the same time, others insist that people shouldn’t get so caught up in the name of the trend that they ignore the important message behind it.

@ally_heatherly

For the record, I’m still married but on my terms and my value is not based on my relationship. #benstage #thebenstage #AXERatioChallenge

♬ original sound – yelenabelovasnewvest🍉🍒🥝

“Getting past your ‘Ben stage’ is not the hardest thing you’ll ever do but it’s one of those things you can’t understand until you’re through it,” shared one woman. “Being able to say I’m happier alone than in a relationship that makes me unhappy is a priceless thing.”

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