Dating Terms for Noobs: Part 1. Breadcrumbing

Advice by Chloe
4 min readJun 23, 2021

Bread crumbs. They’re delicious crunchy bits of carby goodness. They enhance basically any recipe, they can be used to manipulate small winged creatures into being your friend, and they’re superb for abandoning small German children in witch-infested forests. Recently though, the term has been used to describe crumby behavior on dating apps.

What is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is the act of giving someone just enough attention to maintain interest without any real intent to follow through. Sound familiar? Let me give you a few examples:

  1. They ignore your advances until you start to move on, and then they’ll lure you back in with a sweet or flirty DM… until they disappear again.
  2. They agree to ambiguous plans but ghost you when it’s time to set a date, only to pop up again later.
  3. They seem super into you for a bit, but disappear from your life until they want to hang out again.
  4. They use negative reinforcement to avoid your attempts to initiate a conversation about your relationship by ghosting, gaslighting, or picking a fight.
  5. You don’t know where you stand in the relationship, how they feel about you, or what to expect from them. You’re left feeling undervalued and confused.

Basically, you followed their trail of breadcrumbs, and now you’re lost in the friggin’ forest. It’s ok, it happens to the best of us. The important thing is to realize what’s happening before you’re shoved into a cauldron and eaten for dinner.

Why Tho

Why are some people thoughtless assholes? 🤷 I don’t know man, your guess is as good as mine. (I mean, I do actually know, but I’m assuming you don’t want a 30 page paper on the wonders of human behavior). Simply put, they’re not as invested in you as you are in them. Maybe they only text you when they’re bored, maybe they just want attention, or maybe they’re genuinely super busy. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t really change the fact that it’s a shit move and you deserve better.

How to Avoid It

The best way to avoid breadcrumbing is to maintain healthy boundaries. According to a study that examined the experiences of over 600 people, breadcrumbing can actually lead to increased feelings of loneliness and helplessness… which probably doesn’t surprise anyone.

Getting led on sucks. Be straightforward about how you expect to be treated. I assure you that agreeing to live your life by their terms will not make them magically want to date you — and it certainly won’t make them respect you.

You could send a message to make your boundaries clear in a firm, but friendly way. For Example: “Hey, it seems like you’re pretty busy. Let me know if you have the time to commit to a date and we can set something up. Otherwise, I wish you the best.”

And then STAY STRONG. They will almost certainly try to drag you back into their orbit of disappointment, but don’t fall for it. Being a part of your life isn’t a right, it’s an earned privilege… and people who treat you poorly don’t deserve your time. Seriously, they can back the fuck up with that shit.


Breadcrumbing has fo sho been around before modern dating created a word for it. There were almost certainly cases of Dukes declaring their love for a maiden who assured them that, while she’s super into him, her cousin has dysentery again so she’ll need to cancel.

I mean, her cousin probably did have dysentery, but she’s literally saying that she’d rather watch someone shit themselves until they die than go out on a date with him. He should take that as a sign to move on, and so should you.

Dating is hard, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of allowing yourself to be mistreated in your quest to find a true connection… but anyone who jerks you around isn’t looking for a connection, they’re looking for a distraction. You’re a hell of a lot more than that.

If you’d like to learn more about how to communicate with matches, improve your dating profile, or have questions for me, feel free to reach out ;)





Advice by Chloe

Dating consultant who got her start on Reddit. I write about dating and relationships and I’m always trying to make dating easier for dudes.