X Liked this article? Register for free now at match.com Register for free

Breadcrumbing and Dating – How to Spot and Avoid it

photo of Laura
by Laura
Breadcrumbing and Dating - How to Spot and Avoid it

With the rise of dating apps, alongside both offline and online dating, there have never been more ways to meet potential dates. This seems like a great thing – more dates means you’re more likely to meet the man or woman of your dreams. But what happens when everyone’s going on more dates?

People like to keep their options open, meaning an increase in behaviour like breadcrumbing and ghosting over the last few years. Maybe it’s the meteoric rise of dating apps that’s caused this, or maybe it’s something that’s been happening for a while and it’s only recently been given a snappy, memorable name. Either way, we need to talk about it. So here’s our definitive guide to breadcrumbing: what exactly it is, how to spot it, and ultimately how to avoid it.

So what is breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing, inspired by the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, is the act of leading someone on with just enough “breadcrumbs” of attention when you don’t intend on getting into a relationship with them.

Here’s an example: Tom and Sarah and have been on a few dates. Sarah’s keen, while Tom doesn’t feel much of a spark and isn’t really looking for a relationship anyway. But instead of setting Sarah free to find the perfect boyfriend she’s looking for, Tom continues to give her hope by sending her just enough messages to give her the impression he’s still interested. He’s also a late-night booty call fiend (breadcrumbing and booty calls often go hand-in-hand). This leaves Sarah in limbo until she becomes fully aware of Tom’s games and sends him packing.

If you ask us, breadcrumbing is even more cruel than ghosting: at least ghosts breeze out of their hopeful dates’ lives forever, even if it is an abrupt exit. Breadcrumbing is a long and drawn out process of continually building someone’s hopes up, only to dash them again shortly after. Breadcrumbing generally leaves the fate of the victim in their own hands, only able to save themselves when they realise what’s going on. Unless, of course, the breadcrumber gets bored and ditches the poor soul.

So, how do you spot this frustrating behaviour? Read on to find out…

How do you spot breadcrumbing?

Now you know what breadcrumbing is, it should be simple to spot, right? Sadly this isn’t always the case. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of meeting someone new – this clouds your judgement and causes you to grasp at any meagre morsel of affection or attention you can get your hands on. Add to this the fact that most breadcrumbers will be masters of the art and could well be breadcrumbing other unsuspecting people at the same time, and knowing how to spot it becomes a bit of a minefield.

But there are some classic warning signs to look out for. If you suspect that you might be a victim of breadcrumbing, see if any of these sound familiar:

  • You’ve been dating for a while and you haven’t met any of their friends and family and they show no interest in meeting yours. Of course, if their family live far away there’s probably good reason for this. If they live a few miles down the road and you haven’t heard a squeak about them, you should question why this is
  • They only message you shortly before asking to see you. If someone is genuinely interested in you, they’ll text you throughout the day, even if you don’t have immediate plans to see each other. They’ll want to know what you’re up to and be keen to get to know you better. If it seems your date is only contacting you to arrange meetups (which usually end up at your place or theirs), they could well be breadcrumbing you
  • They avoid all discussion about making things official like the plague. Granted, some people are commitment-phobes. But they should be willing to at least talk about a potential relationship and let you know when they might be ready. If, at the mention of anything long-term, the person you’re seeing clams up and desperately fishes around for a change in subject, consider what this really means

And how do you avoid breadcrumbing altogether?

So, you know what breadcrumbing is, as well as some classic warning signs. But how do you avoid breadcrumbing in the first place? Here’s our advice on how to look for someone who’s a bit more serious about finding a relationship:

  • Register with Match for free to find singles who are looking for the same thing as you. Every member responds to a number of questions when they set up their profile, including whether they’re ready to start a relationship. You can then search by this and other criteria to narrow down your options and hopefully only start talking to people who want the same thing as you.
  • Approach dating apps with caution, as people looking for hookups rather than long-term relationships often use them. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to meet a boyfriend or girlfriend on a dating app – we all know a couple who met on Tinder. Just be wary and perhaps spend longer getting to know them before you meet up and allow yourself to develop feelings.
  • Be strict with yourself. If someone’s messing you around for no good reason, don’t allow them to waste your time. Everyone deserves a second chance, or maybe even a third if they’re lucky, but once it goes beyond this it’s unlikely they’ll change their ways and magically morph into the perfect partner.
  • Go with your gut. If there’s a little voice whispering in your ear that things aren’t right, listen to that voice and consider what it’s saying. This doesn’t mean you should write someone off as soon as you have a tiny niggle – just that you should allow yourself to think about the niggle and how big a deal it is for you.

So there you have it – our guide to breadcrumbing and what you should do about it.

Always remember that you’re worth so much more than being someone’s back up. You’ll find someone who will adore every part of you and won’t constantly leave you hanging. So register for free now and find the one! Or check out our dating advice hub for all the tips and guidance you could ask for. We’ve got 11 fun first date ideas to try out, as well as 17 questions to ask a boy you’re dating.