Breadcrumbing: The dating tactic only slightly better than ghosting

Is breadcrumbing a legitimate complaint, or do we all need to grow a thicker dating skin? 

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 15 November 2016 10:37

In the headache-inducing world of modern dating, a group straddles the gap between the borderline stalkers, the illusive ghosters and the tech-savvy mooners. They're called the breadcrumbers.

The term describes those people who contact you intermittently in order to keep you interested, but are stubbornly vague on whether a relationship will ever blossom. Then they vanish, and the cycle starts again. They keep you in limbo, just in case someone better comes along.

The trail of morsels that breadcrumbers leave can range from seemingly random flirtatious texts, to likes on Instagram photos from three weeks ago without making any further contact.

“The worst type of breadcrumber is the one who resurfaces every six months, and like the Loch Ness monster, you almost can’t believe this creature has come back into your life,” Alicia Winokur, a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, told the New York Times. “But there he is, saying, ‘Hey, I was just thinking about you’.”

But in a world where everything is instant, is crying "breadcrumb" the worst sign of entitlement? After all, texting back and forth doesn’t mean someone is bound to you.

It’s complicated, says Dr Gayle Brewer, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. Such labels can be a useful way to behaviour that we find inappropriate or hurtful, she told The Independent.

“The person on the receiving end may believe that they are at fault and unnecessarily question what they have said or done. They may also become reluctant to form romantic relationships or be less trusting.

To Dr Brewer, the whole mess could be avoided if people were clear about the type of relationship they are looking for: whether that is hooking-up or something casual while they consider their options.

“With this information, people can then decide whether to pursue the relationship and what to expect. If people are not comfortable with the agreement or if they want more than their partner can give, it might be time to end the relationship and look elsewhere.”

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