It is completely rude to ghost somebody, and you should never breadcrumb someone either, because it is arguably even more rude. Think of it this way: Would you rather have someone disappear on you after three great dates and never bother you again, or would you rather have someone who intermittently likes your Instagram selfies but keeps you in limbo about whether or not they actually want a relationship to blossom? This second category of behavior is called "breadcrumbing," or the Internet's version of stringing somebody along.
A breadcrumber pops up periodically to send you a selfie of themselves, or go back and like one of your Facebook posts from three weeks ago, and then disappears again without a trace. It's like being haunted by the lamest poltergeist ever. A breadcrumber wants the attention and gratification that comes from seeing a notification pop up from on you on their phone, but they don't actually want a relationship. Breadcrumbing is an entitled and annoying way to treat somebody. It deprives the recipient of the care and attention they need to be giving themselves and those close to them for the sake of feeding somebody's ego.
Here are some other reasons why you shouldn't breadcrumb someone, ever, because it's obnoxious AF:
1. Breadcrumbing Makes You Look Like A Spoiled, Rotten Brat
The last person who breadcrumbed me would send me selfies of himself in bed and ask me to bring him a bagel. I'd be going about my business — grocery shopping, talking to my mom, pooping — when his face would pop up on my phone screen with a caption reading "bagel?" He reminded me of a spoiled toddler, jumping up and down and demanding attention from an almost stranger when he felt deprived of it in his daily life.
When I didn't respond, he would send me frowny faces — even though he had no interest in actually hanging out with me. I had tried to make concrete plans before and he had evaded them without ever proposing an alternate hang. His manner of breadcrumbing put the responsibility on me to respond to his cries for attention. Why would I ever want to give someone attention for that?
2. Breadcrumbing Is All About The Ego Boost
Connecting with people ought to be about a lot of things besides your ego. It ought to be about being enriched from learning about another person's experience. It ought to be about expanding your definitions of love and care. It ought to be about sharing experiences and achieving personal growth as a result of it.
What connecting and dating should not be about is bothering somebody in order to feel good about yourself. When somebody breadcrumbs me, it feels like they are doing a quieter, more subtle version of street harassment. That guy yelling out of his pickup truck about my *ss doesn't care about my feelings — he just wants to feel like more of a "man." Whatever that means.
The person who dribbles just enough Instagram likes or texts my way to make me initiate contact with them doesn't care about my feelings, either. He or she just wants the validation of somebody — anybody — who will give them their energy. It hasn't even occurred to the breadcrumber that their behavior might be invalidating to the person they are contacting. They haven't even bothered to think about the other individual's feelings at all.
3. Breadcrumbing Is Rooted In Misogyny
Before you argue that both men and women engage in breadcrumbing, let me be clear: Women can enact misogyny too. Why do you think so many white women voted for Donald Trump?
Misogyny, patriarchy, and rape culture don't just impact peoples' bodies, but the emotional and mental ways people relate to one another. Rape culture involves physical violence, but it's also that voice inside of every woman's head that says she isn't deserving, smart, or good enough to be authentically loved.
That's where breadcrumbing comes in. When you breadcrumb somebody, it is because you feel entitled to their time and attention. You are entering their private mental space uninvited and taking something away from them without even the intention to give something of yourself.
Breadcrumbing might not be on quite the same scale as a stranger reaching up under somebody's skirt, but it's a similar principle. Just because you aren't physically touching somebody doesn't mean that you aren't doing them harm. Experts say that breadcrumbing can do lasting damage to people on the receiving end. Recipients might believe they are at fault for the way somebody is behaving towards them and might have trouble forming trusting, romantic relationships in the future. Sound familiar? Those are some of the same lasting emotional challenges that abuse causes in victims, too.
4. Breadcrumbing Keeps You From Figuring Out What You Want
The urge to look for validation in other people comes from not being totally OK with yourself. If you are truly in tune with your emotional needs, then you wouldn't breadcrumb other people. You would have the confidence to go out and look for care and validation that was actually fulfilling to you — whether that care and validation comes from a partner, a lover, or a close friend.
When you breadcrumb somebody, you are taking their time and attention away from a life you have no intention of being a part of — but you are also taking time and attention away from yourself. So if you get the urge to breadcrumb somebody, put your phone away and sit quietly with the impulse. Can't you find whatever you wanted that person to give you, and give it to yourself?
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