TikTok's 'Ben Phase' Dating Trend Is Almost Too Relatable

Step aside Karens ... there's a new hated name in town, and TikTok girlies around the world are determined to make sure men with this name never land another date. 

The internet has long been assigning certain personality traits to common names. If you search your name up on the ever-popular, vulgar glossary of Urban Dictionary, you're sure to find a "definition" that lays out people's rawest thoughts on people that share your title. Some names even become so synonymous with their stereotypes that they're turned into adjectives. Do you hit the gym before shotgunning beers at a local frat? That's Chad behavior, according to Urban Dictionary


As we continue to connect with others through online social media platforms, we are more capable than ever of finding shared experiences and identifying supposed patterns among certain names. The latest moniker to come under scrutiny is a classic: Ben. Unfortunately for the thousands of Bens worldwide, TikTok has nothing positive to say. Apparently, these guys are ones to keep out of your 2023 Dating Wrapped. 

TikTok girls are condemning Bens

It wasn't long ago that social media users were warning against dating boys whose names start with a "J." Myriad TikToks about the topic circulated, with girls sharing their negative experiences with a J boy ... or cursing themselves for developing a crush on a "Josh." Viral tweets also covered the topic, with one person writing, "I have no empirical evidence to prove this but we've all at least once been heartsick over a guy whose name begins with J." 


There's finally some reprieve for all of you Justins, Jacobs, and Johns. TikTok's latest target is Bens, with video creators' wrath being expressed through the "Ben stage" trend. In one viral video, a user advises "any girl going through her 'ben' stage" to run. The popularity of the videos seems to suggest that a detrimental "Ben stage" is a common experience ... but what does it actually mean? 

Apparently, many people have "Ben" there, done that ... and they're not recommending the experience. 

The viral trend highlights shared experiences

Seeing a one-off "Ben stage" TikTok might leave you feeling confused. Upon closer inspection, however, the trend is about as straightforward as TikTok gets. As the U.S. Sun summarizes, the only requirement for participating in this latest craze is a past negative history with a boy named Ben. Typically, video creators will have gotten romantically involved with a Ben and — after a nasty break-up or failed situationship — use the TikTok trend to strongly advise against repeating their mistakes. 


It would appear that the "Ben stage" is less of an era and more of a jinx, with users promising that the name brings trouble. For those who trust Urban Dictionary's fortune-telling over TikTok's however, the prospect is more bright. Definitions for the name include assertions that Bens are "easy to be friends with" and possess "dreamy" eyes. 

Although the "Ben stage" has not yet permeated the internet's dictionary, it isn't perfectly contained. The trend got popular enough that new platforms are hosting Ben discourse, and feelings are mixed. 

The trend has spread to other platforms

In a testament to the ire that Bens have inspired in their romantic and platonic relationships, the trend and its anecdotes have even spread to Twitter. One user, after sharing their tale of a Ben friendship gone wrong, declared what TikTok has already been saying: "Ben's are cursed." 


And while the trend and the videos it has inspired seem to be mostly in jest, others are grateful for the voice TikTok has given them. "I'm happy we're warning people about the ben stage," one person tweeted. "Nothing could have prepared me for what that man put me through." 

In the replies to that tweet, however, one person was deeply confused. "The ben stage??" she wrote. In this latest example of the accuracy of TikTok's famous "For You" page, it would appear that the girls who get it, get it ... but some really don't. 

Some don't love the Ben stage

The "Ben stage" trend has sparked light-hearted fun for most involved, but some are speaking out against the Ben slander. Surprisingly, those who seem most put off by the introduction of the "Ben stage" aren't Bens ... they're just sick of keeping up with seemingly unnecessary, hyper-specific labels for common experiences. One Twitter user lamented, "They tryna [put] titles on being human like just chilllll." Another made it clear that this could be a generational divide: "I'm starting to get pissed off with TikTok and these Gen Z terms. Speed limit birthdays, core core videos ... now the "Ben" stage of relationships? I can't keep up!" 


The universality of the experience has also come under question. While those who can relate have been very vocal on TikTok, many are just confused. Many of the platform's top "Ben stage" TikToks aren't users' experiences with Bens, but rather their attempt at explaining what the trend even means. Others, after gaining understanding, just couldn't relate: "I just found out what a Ben stage was & I swear I've only met 1 Ben before in my whole life." 

Clearly, the trend is relatively contained for now. Still, one Twitter Ben isn't taking any chances, writing, "Just found out about the "Ben stage" so I am gonna legally change my name ..." Classic Ben sneakiness.