Last year, ghosting — suddenly cutting off all contact with the person you’re dating — was the move of choice for douchebags everywhere who no longer wanted to continue a relationship. And, somehow, things have gotten worse still: Breadcrumbing is the fresh way for daters to eff with the people who are expressing unrequited interest in them.
Breadcrumbing, defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie “breadcrumbs”) in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort,” equates to leading someone on. Don’t do that! Don’t be this duck either!
Breadcrumbers will send you sporadic messages, slide into your DMs here and there, or throw you a like on Instagram just frequently enough so you don’t lose interest, but not too much so the relationship actually moves forward. It’s a twisted, methodical practice that takes serious effort to perfect — effort that, seriously, WHY DON’T THEY PUT INTO DATING YOU PROPERLY?!?! Breadcrumbers have a sense for when you’re close to moving on, so they seize the opportunity to leave you a trail of breadcrumbs — or brief flirtations — so you don’t forget about them quite yet.
“These ambiguous digital crumbs are enough to remind you that the person is alive, and may even hint at a future meet-up,” says Refinery29, “but never get to the nitty gritty of whether they actually want a relationship.”
So, why do people really breadcrumb? Well, that’s like asking why people are terrible — there are lots of possible reasons. “There’s breadcrumbing when you’ve broken up with someone but you don’t want to let them go; there’s breadcrumbing as a way of keeping a dating prospect on ‘hold,’” the New York Times explains. “Or there’s breadcrumbing as a kind of game: when a person is ‘not interested in you, but interested in themselves staying relevant to you.’”
Because of the seminal role that technology plays in the modern dating scene, breadcrumbing can be especially infuriating if you’re in search of a genuine connection. Breadcrumbers waste your time and introduce a sense of falsehood into a rapport that you may have conceived as real. Emotional manipulation is not OK though, so the next time your cutie-pie Bumble match cancels coffee three times in a row but “loves your new profile pic!” try to move on to someone worth your time. I’d rather have my daily carbs in the form of a bagel, anyways.