The ‘Ben stage’ is the TikTok dating trend that’s all about lessons

It’s bad news for Bens (Picture: Getty/

People called Ben better brace themselves.

You’re about to get the Karen treatment, with your name becoming a much-memed insult – and it’s all thanks to a new trend.

Talk about the ‘Ben stage’ is currently everywhere TikTok, seemingly started by creator Gubster.

In a five-second video that’s been viewed over 12 million times, she pulls awkward faces alongside the caption ‘seeing any girl go through her Ben stage’ and the Florence lyrics ‘you better run.’

Duets and responses came flooding in, as more and more people shared stories of disappointing dates, toxic situationships and metaphorical bullets dodged.

It’s bad news for the Bens of the world, but this trend could actually be beneficial in highlighting how we have to kiss a few frogs before finding our prince(ss).

What is a Ben stage?

The Ben stage refers to a period of unhappy or unfulfilling relationships, either with one person or a series of similarly rubbish partners.

This phase of life is one you look back on and cringe inwardly, but it’s also when you learn what you need and what you’re worth.

Stories shared as part of the trend range from general bad behaviour (‘he slept with my best friend’) to straight-up weirdness (‘he hit an owl with his car’).

It’s clearly struck a chord, with hundreds of commenters claiming they’ve been through the same and saying the shared experience helps them feel ‘seen’.

To be clear, you don’t have to have actually dated anyone called Ben – a Ben stage is really about the vibes.

Who is the original Ben and what did he do wrong?

There are a few different theories as to how Ben was chosen as this trend’s figurehead.

Some have suggested it’s to do with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, who rekindled their romance in 2020 after over 15 years apart.

JLo said calling off their wedding in 2004 was the ‘biggest heartbreak of [her] life,’ which does table with the ideas of mistakes and growth.

Others believe it’s in reference to two influencers called Evyn and Ben who recently broke up.

Fans of the former couple have been taking sides online, leading some to assert that Ben’s alleged poor behaviour caused the split.

In reality, however, it’s likely just a catch-all term for a certain kind of man, like the ongoing joke that names beginning with a J are a red flag.

The history of the moniker can also give us some clues. Ben is currently the UK’s 348th most popular boys name, down from its peak position of 21st in 2002.

Our late teens and twenties are often a tumultuous time in love, and a generation of Bens are now in that age bracket. It makes sense, then, that a lot of young daters have encountered their own Bens in the search for love.

Whether you’re a Ben worried about his romantic future or about to cancel a date with a Ben in a misguided act of self-preservation, try not to read too much into this trend.

We all live and learn – and some of us live long enough to be immortalised in meme format.

Share your struggles if it helps, but don’t stereotype as a result of your past experiences. That can seriously limit your potential for lasting love.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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