Is breadcrumbing the new ghosting?

From the dating scene that gave us ghosting comes a new way to get screwed over: breadcrumbing. Here's how to make sure you don't become a Hansel and Gretel tragedy.

I don’t know a single person, including all my friends and even people I’ve dated, that hasn’t been ghosted. But for those of you lucky enough to not have been visited by this unholy spectre, ghosting is a dating term used to explain the mysterious act of someone just simply disappearing on you.

Let’s say you have been having great chats with a person, sharing little snippets of your life that make you seem exciting, funny and sexy. They’re well received and the conversations flow. You wake up and get cute good morning texts, the kind that make you feel great all day. Things might even progress to dates, ones that go well and show no indication that, for absolutely no apparent reason, this person will one day just completely disappear without a trace. But soon, you won’t even get left on read, because they won’t bother to open your message. They don’t even appear online anymore and, in the worst cases, they might even do a hard block on every platform. They’ve ghosted away and you will never know why.

If you have accidentally summoned a truly awful demon whilst swiping, you might then actually start to be haunted by your ghost. This is when the person who ghosted you will brazenly continue to watch your Instagram stories, like your Tweets and just be generally shameless about watching and interacting with your online life, without interacting with your IRL life. It’s perfectly normal to have a snoop on your ex with a burner account. But to just watch your best bits on social media every day (in some instances, for years) without being stealthy about it is moving very mad. Shout out to my ex who saw me call him out about haunting and made a burner account the same day. Smooth.

Dating in 2021, as I’ve previously established, is primarily done through apps, social media, or even hooking up via online games. This allows people to behave in ways that give them more anonymity and less culpability. Perhaps this is why I’m seeing the phrase breadcrumbing” being thrown around a lot. After some online digging, I realised that I am also apparently a repeat victim of this phenomenon – a Hansel and Gretel casualty.


So what is it exactly? Breadcrumbing is really a more creative and online way of saying leading someone on. This behaviour is found in a person that you have actually invested time into and have received seemingly similar energy back. But when you break it down, are all those likes and comments on your selfies just little crumbs of affection to keep you hooked? Have you actually gone on a date after they called you up at 10pm and you went for a quick drink that turned into shag? OK, yeah, they did remember to congratulate you for that work thing on Insta DMs, but isn’t it weird that they’ve never actually committed to hanging out when you’ve WhatsApped them?

This, ladies and gentleman, is breadcrumbing. It’s the act of leaving little crumbs to gas you up and make you feel good, piquing your interest, but never actually giving you the entire batch of baked goods. Likes and comments on all your best selfies, funny memes and, albeit sporadic, sexy, flirty messages can sometimes feel like one of the most intimate acts between two people getting to know each other. But it’s very easy for anyone to be non committal in a situation like this without repercussions. They’ll keep dropping those breadcrumbs hoping that you’ll continue to eat them up – that’s if they’re not challenged.

If you’re looking for something more fulfilling or an actual relationship, then this ain’t it. Ending the breadcrumbing cycle is important. After spending a long time swiping and having endless boring chats, once you find someone you actually get on with, it can feel incredibly defeating and a bit soul destroying to contemplate ending things, especially when it feels like things could be worse. But I promise that you are worth more than a person who can’t even commit to drinks in public with seven days notice.

Set your boundaries. Get them to set up an actual proper date with you or directly ask your breadcrumber what they’re looking for. If they can’t commit to a date or even tell you that they’re simply looking for a bit of fun, then thank them for the chats, wish them well and get the fuck out of there. Archive them, unfollow them, block them, whatever it takes. Know your worth. Because for every breadcrumber, ghoster, haunter and even catfisher, there’s a dating app profile of someone holding a fish, climbing a rock and potentially even running a marathon, ready and waiting to meet you for a cheeky gin. What a time to be alive.

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