Earlier this year, the internet crowned breadcrumbing the sh*tty successor to ghosting. Breadcrumbing is when you drop tiny bits of affection because you're not feeling invested enough in a romantic prospect to fully commit — and a lot of people got pretty upset about the term. One site vilified breadcrumbing, calling it "cruel and manipulative," and even Elite Daily talked to an expert about how you can avoid getting breadcrumbed.
In the early stages of dating, I'm staunchly pro-breadcrumbing. In a perfect world, sure, maybe I'd volley messages back and forth all day long with every single one of the 17 Bumble matches I've conversed with recently. I'd answer all of their texts promptly and enthusiastically plan dates with each one of them. But this isn't a perfect world. I don't have time to do that all day, every day — I don't know anyone who's working or in school full-time who has time for that.
And that's where breadcrumbing comes in. You're not going to click with everyone you meet. Like they say on the Bachelor, some connections are naturally stronger than others. It makes sense that some budding relationships might lose steam.
But if the person you're feeling just lukewarm about didn't do anything wrong, you might not want to break things off. And you might still be open to seeing them again, just to see if you're right that the chemistry is off.
I'm not saying that you should purposely do a slow-fade on someone, then suddenly like their Instagram out of the blue or hit them up with a flirty late-night text when you need the ego boost. That's manipulative. And there's definitely a limit for how long you can play that game before you need to woman up and make a decision — if you're still breadcrumbing someone after three dates, you're stringing them along. That makes you a bad person. Dating is tough enough as it is; the least you can do is treat others with kindness and respect.
Breadcrumbing is fine, though, when used as a way to subtly indicate that you're feeling kind of ho-hum about someone. Because let's face it — no one ever breadcrumbs someone they actually have feelings for.
Consider joining me on Team Breadcrumb. Here are three reasons to back up my theory that it's actually the best way to date.
You Don't Owe Anyone Anything
Repeat after me: You don't owe anyone anything. Not even if your date pays for your drinks. Not even if they text you to make sure you got home all right. Not even if they follow up the next day to express what an awesome time they had with you.
What, just because you hung out on one date and talked about your respective stances on the Taylor Swift/Kanye West feud means you suddenly owe this person your time? No. You don't need to text them back in the middle of your meeting; it can wait until the end of the work day. You don't need to reschedule your Thursday-night barre class because they want to see you again; they can deal with finding a time that works for both of you.
People Should Be Able To Take A Hint
We're all adults here. We can read the signs that someone isn't all that interested in us, and we can behave accordingly. As long as you're not blatantly rude about it, it's fine to drop subtle signals that you aren't falling head over heels.
You're Not Going To Breadcrumb The Love Of Your Life
This is a way to weed out the people you don't actually care that much about. When you meet someone you actually see a future with — a future that consists of more than just slightly-stilted "getting to know you" conversations on uncomfortable bar stools — you won't be able to resist throwing your whole self into the budding relationship.
Beware, though: Breadcrumbing can backfire. Occasionally blowing off texts, not jumping through hoops to make plans, broadcasting lukewarm interest at best... doesn't that sound an awful lot like playing hard to get? And as anyone who's ever taken Intro to Psych can tell you, we always want what we can't have. You might just find that breadcrumbing someone is the fastest way to make them fall for you.
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