Is Your Crush Breadcrumbing You?

All the signs and how you should respond.
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The perils of dating have been well documented since the dawn of romance. Even Romeo and Juliet’s (who, let’s not romanticise, they were totally in lust, not love) spark led to their demise. 

WATCH: TikTok is calling out toxic ‘pick me boys’.

While our own love lives are mostly free from the tragedy of The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina, that doesn’t mean we aren’t suffering under the plight of modern-day dating.

We are aware of relationship buzz terms like ghosting, gaslighting, slow fading, but there is another phenomenon called breadcrumbing that has become more common thanks to social media.

Urban Dictionary describes breadcrumbing as: “When the ‘crush’ has no intentions of taking things further, but they like the attention. So they flirt here or there, send DMs/texts just to keep the person interested, knowing damn well they’re staying single.”

The breadcrumber’s tactics are often so subtle that it’s easy to get wrapped up in the threads of this dating faux pas.

So, what are the signs you’re being breadcrumbed?

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Have you ever met someone who you thought was cute and as if by a stroke of luck, they think you’re cool too? Or at least that’s what you think when they begin flirting with you…

Eventually, they ask you to give them your number and you’re feeling pretty excited that the date they have promised will happen soon.

Once you come home, like a gift sent from the universe, a cluster of numbers you have yet to save in your phone appear with the message, “It was nice to meet you.”

It’s like a blast of sunshine has lit up your heart and you make sure to wait a few minutes before replying, “It was sweet to meet you too.”

You go to bed with a big old smile on your face, only for it to quickly fade when a week passes and your crush hasn’t replied.

But it feels like things are getting better when the following Saturday, they finally message back.

In the weeks after, they may DM you, heart react to your Instagram story, and they tell you how cool it would be to go on a date – but they never make actual plans.

Does this sound familiar? Well, you were likely breadcrumbed by a crush who is emotionally unavailable.

Other typical breadcrumbing behaviours include sending memes, emojis, superficial messages about their lives but never yours, and liking an Instagram grid picture from six months ago. 

It’s also not uncommon for a breadcrumber to randomly come back into your life when you stop engaging.

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So, why do people breadcrumb?

According to the New York Times, the behaviour can be attributed to your crush keeping their options open, or even worse, just enjoying the ‘game’.

“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,’” write the publication.

“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.’”

Healthline also suggests they don’t want to let go, they’re lonely, or they don’t want to commit.

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How can you respond to breadcrumbing?

There are a few ways you can handle this sour situation, and it’s really up to the individual to do what’s most comfortable for them, with an understanding that your crushes response may not satisfy your needs.

And since their actions have been vague and confusing so far, it’s unlikely you’ll receive real closure.

First, you can initiate discussing their behaviour and outline how it makes you feel.

For example, you can text your crumbly crush: “Hey, I’ve noticed you message kinda sporadically, and I get we’re all busy AF, but I prefer talking to people who want to be in touch on a more regular basis. Let me know what you think?”

Second, you can change your approach to take charge of the conversation by asking your crush if they would like to meet on a specific date and time. 

An example you can text is, “Hey, if you’re free we should get coffee next Saturday morning. You keen?”

Lastly, (and full disclosure, this is our recommended take) once you have identified your crush’s behaviour as breadcrumbing, you may choose to realise that while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink, and step away from the situation entirely.

Because you deserve peace above all, so take care of yourself and don’t give that breadcrumber flour to rise.

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