12 Confusing Signs He's 'Breadcrumbing' You

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man and woman feeding breadcrumbs to pigeons

Breadcrumbing is a modern dating trend that’s just plain brutal.

Rather than just disappearing and refusing to talk to you (known as ghosting), breadcrumbing is what guys do when they just want to keep you hanging on by a thread.

As Urban Dictionary puts it, breadcrumbing is "When the 'crush' has no intentions of taking things further, but they like the attention. So they flirt here or there, send DM/texts just to keep the person interested."

Like you might leave breadcrumbs for a hungry animal to follow, the bread crumbs give you just enough attention to keep you interested but not enough to actually be in a relationship with or dating you. He is also keeping his options open.

Why do guys breadcrumb women?

Unlike the grim tale of Hansel and Gretel where breadcrumbs are a good thing, in the dating world breadcrumbs are sneaky tools that only end in heartbreak. This dating term is used to keep you close but not too close so he can have all the benefits of dating you without actually doing it.

According to love and dating coach Ronnie Ann Ryan, "The point of breadcrumbing is to string you along. He wants to keep you in his roster of women who boost his ego by texting or connecting through social media. This makes him feel wanted, desired, and popular."

Of course, another possibility is that he may just be confused.

"He might not know what he wants so he uses breadcrumbing to keep you on the hook for when he figures that out," Ryan explains.

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Either way, it's definitely not a good spot to be on the receiving end.

Breadcrumbing allows them to sleep with you or get their ego-stroking, but they also don’t have to commit to you. Once they find a girl they actually would commit to, they ghost.

Relationship expert Dona Murphy strongly advises, "Trust your instincts! If you feel this person isn’t interested in a relationship, you’re probably right."

Basically, you know someone is breadcrumbing you if you think you're being breadcrumbed, okay? Go with your gut. If it feels off, then somethings definitely wrong. Dating is supposed to be fun and adventurous, not confusing and manipulative.

12 signs of breadcrumbing

1. You plan dates, but he keeps pushing them off.

This is the most common sign that he’s not actually serious about meeting up. If you two met on a dating app, this could also be a sign that he’s catfishing you or is actually taken.

2. You went on one date and things just never seem to click up again.

This is often baffling because the date typically goes well (that is if it ever happens). Actually getting another date planned, however, suddenly becomes harder than climbing Mount Everest.

You want to say it’s because of bad luck, but you might not really be sure.

3. When you call him out, he immediately pays more attention to you for like one week... then backs away again.

This gaslighting tactic is often done to prove that he’s not “one of those jerks that ghosts.” Truthfully, guys who do this are just wastes of time.

4. Most of the time, your interaction with this guy is literally just text messages once every two or three days.

If you’re breadcrumbed, you’re literally being put as his last priority. As a result, the most common time he’ll hit you up is when he’s bored ... and that might not happen too often. If you are only texting, it's a red flag.

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5. By the end of the breadcrumb ordeal, the texts are short and stupid.

This is the kind of guy who will literally only text you one-word messages like “Sup?” and “Yo.” Sound familiar? Get a guy who will pay more attention to you, girl.

6. He phases in and out of your life.

Some guys are intermittent breadcrumbers. So, they may actually just breadcrumb by dropping in once or twice via Facebook or Snapchat then disappear from your notifications for a long period. Once they give you a “Like,” they’re out of your life again.

"By texting or commenting on social media occasionally, he keeps up the connection without asking you out or spending time actually getting to know you," says Ryan.

7. Any interaction you try to bring in feels like you’re pulling teeth.

Breadcrumbers really, truly aren’t interested in you. At all. That’s why any conversation you have will have that weird, awkward feeling of being forced. Don’t tolerate this!

8. A suspicious amount of his texts come in at 1 AM.

This may be a sign that he just sees you as a booty call. Or, it could be a sign that he’s bored and breadcrumbing you.

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9. He insists that he’s serious about dating you, but getting information out of him is impossible.

He can’t actually come up with a date or time to meet or even give you a real number.

Here’s the truth that many online matching sites don’t tell you: a good portion of people don’t ever actually meet up with people they chat with. For them, it’s just entertainment and a way to pass time.

10. If he reappears, he pretends like nothing happened.

This is actually common with ghosting, but with breadcrumbing, he may act like he “just finally” got his schedule together. Don’t take him up on the date.

11. He always comes around just as you lose interest or begin to lose interest.

Make no mistake about it, this is done on purpose. They want to keep you interested because it tends to boost their ego and give them the option of being with you if nothing else pans out.

That’s the most common reason why someone would breadcrumb you, and that’s really awful if you think of it.

12. If you moved on and he reappears, he’ll most likely pout and play the victim.

If he has the nerve to pout, make sure to explain to him that you’re not going to wait for his loser behind to make up his mind. He deserves the sadness he gave himself and you’re not to blame for his stupid decisions.

RELATED: How To Respond To Breadcrumbing Without Losing Your Dignity

What to say to a guy who is breadcrumbing you

First, understand how you feel about this person. Do you want to keep communicating or not? If so, you need to decide to be a player — not a victim — in this dating game. Choosing to respond to the breadcrumber's messages gives you control, but if you feel obligated to respond he has more control.

Of course, if you don't want to continue talking then walk away and move on.

"Waiting and hoping they’ll change won’t work. That’s not your fault. Nothing’s wrong with you. To be fair, maybe nothing’s wrong with them either. Accept that your desires and priorities don't match. You’re on a dating site to meet people to date. You're not there to be someone’s ego booster or backup option," Murphy advises.

Stop messaging him back, quit interacting with him on social media, cut communication off completely — and when he comes crawling for your attention, tell him why you've done it.

I think he'll get the point by then though.

If you want to get to the bottom of whatever this could be, be blunt and direct. Say something along the lines of "I'm free Saturday let's grab a coffee". If he's not up to it, you definitely have your answer.

Have an open and honest conversation about what you are and leave it at that. Let him know that you are worth more than just crumbs and if he agrees, wonderful.

If not, and he is just interested in his breadcrumbs and doesn't want a relationship, he isn't worth your time (unless you're also into that). In other words, try to get on the same page.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer who focuses on lifestyle, food, finance, and relationships.