This past weekend, as I was face deep in guacamole and a taco simultaneously, I was introduced to the concept of bread crumbing. My mind instantly went to vividly imagining my nightly experience in bed: eating a semi-burnt peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ultimately leading to each and every crumb ending up on me, on my bed, or both. This is surely what she meant by bread crumbing, right? I was sadly mistaken. Bread crumbing, apparently, is the dating world's newest form of douche-bag-ery. Let's start out with a simple definition, as provided of course by none other than Urban Dictionary.
The act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages ("bread crumbs") to members of the opposite sex in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.
"He keeps sending me texts all the time but DOESN'T MAKE ANY PLANS."
"Yo girl, he's bread crumbing you."
I picture y'all reading that and shaking your head (in agreement) while laughing, but internally are also frustrated as FUCK about this new phenomenon. I might also note that the art of bread crumbing is not to be confused with ghosting. There is a very important distinction to make: ghosting is peacin' out forever. Ghosting is a complete lack of communication. Ghosting is the Irish goodbye we all do at parties, except actually getting on a flight to Ireland and never coming back (...not literally, or maybe literally in some instances, and in that case, have a Guinness for me). Bread crumbing, in contrast, is little bits and pieces of hope that are left behind with absolutely no intention of them leading somewhere. The ultimate Hansel and Gretel story played out in modern day dating.
How does it actually look?
Because we live in a generation where social media seems to (sadly) be the primary way of communicating, let's start here. Social media provides us all the opportunity to "like," comment, and lurk other's accounts. With that being said, social media leaves the door open for anyone to walk into your (virtual) life, and continue to walk around in it until YOU choose to close the door. Unaware that you're bread crumbing? My first response: this seems highly unlikely. Bread crumbing is often a pretty intentional act, despite not knowing that a name for it actually exists.
In the case that you actually are an ignorant A-hole, here are some thoughts/questions to consider: do you actually like their perfectly staged shot of themselves on the beach that has been edited with at least 3 different photo apps before finally getting self-approval to upload? Or are you "liking" their photo for the sake of making yourself seen in their notifications? It can even occur a bit more indirectly through an app like Snapchat. Did you just post that snap chat for you semi-ex/casual hook-up/fuck buddy to view? You tell me: whose name are you looking for in the "viewed" section of your Snapchat story? More often than not, my guess is that the Snapchat itself was a bread crumb that was intended for your hook-up to pick up.
Bread crumbing also seems exist in a sporadic manner. This could look like a text-heavy conversation one week, followed by one-word answers or a complete lack of responses the following week. Of course, it's reasonable to assume that others get busy or may even forget to text back. This is where bread crumbing extends beyond typical day-to-day chaos; bread crumbing is cut off communication, for no apparent reason that was either stated or inferred, followed by "out of the blue" conversation weeks or months later. More often than not, these sporadic bread crumbs also fail to deliver any promise. They are attached to vague plans that will never actually exist. "We should for sure do something next week!" One week later: no contact, and certainly no plan created.
In any case of how bread crumbing looks, the outcome is the same: there is never an intention that the conversation will lead to anything more. And the bread crumber themselves is very aware of this fact. They are not in fact interested currently, and will not be interested in the future.
I think there's something to be gained from BOTH sides of being the bread crumber, and the person being "crumbed" on. The bread crumber gets some sadistic and narcissistic need met. The bread crumber ignores the fact that they are wasting another person's time (and emotions), JUST to get their own needs met. Often times, it's a confidence boost. If we're replying to bread crumbs, we're leading the bread crumber to assume that we are still in fact available, and that we are still willingly receiving their bread crumbs.
Your bread crumber texts you around 12 am, starting to leave little bits and pieces of crumbs to instill the assumption (or the hope) that you two will meet up (and hook up) by 2 am. So you grab another shot (no regrets, babay) and continue to "have fun with the girls" until the bread crumber leaves one more little crumb around 1 am. You're another shot in, and fail to reply immediately (your song at the bar is on!) By this point, contact is now cut off between the two of you, and your bread crumber may very likely be with someone else. Your left with a half-assed morning text ("Sorry, passed out!"), or nothing at all.
That wasn't an enjoyable situation to type out. And yet, my guess is that many of us can relate to it. The "art" of bread crumbing is that it isn't person-specific. What I mean by this is that YOU aren't the only person getting messages and flirtatious texts. The whole point of bread crumbing is to leave you, and potentially multiple others, still in the game, and still in the bread crumber's reach. The affection a bread crumber is giving is self-serving: they want affection back, and they're willing to leave little bits of false hope in order to receive it.
The person being bread crumbed, in contrast, gets occasional affection. Affection in any way often (initially) feels good. We all want to feel cared for, acknowledged, recognized, etc. However, the need of receiving affection is often short-lived for the person being bread crumbed. It is temporary, and fails to deliver anything more beyond sporadic conversation. You're merely a piece of the bread crumber's game, and they're closer and closer to their idea to winning the more you engage and respond back. This also sets up for the person being bread crumbed to assume that "normal" communication in a relationship will feel one-sided and will leave them with empty promises. It's no wonder that when we finally meet someone who delivers healthy and consistent communication that we're initially thrown off (and questioning everything)!
Here's where the issue is (as if it's not obvious already)
Clearly the issue is in the fact that all these loaves of bread are going to waste (... someone laugh, please). Really, the complication in bread crumbing is the unhealthy and ineffective communication that its founded on. It perpetuates using others to fulfill self-serving needs, while also ignoring what open communication looks like. Rather than being honest, the bread crumber consciously chooses to be deceitful. The unfortunate thing is that this form of modern dating game becomes accepted because the person receiving the crumbs falsely believes they are cared for.
Looking back on my own dating history, I now realize I had a bread crumber that must have literally purchased 100 loaves of bread. Jokes aside (again), the bread crumbing lasted TWO AND A HALF YEARS. The first (and unsubstantiated) "I love you" actually came in the form of a bread crumb. Of course, that one got kicked into the trash real quick. So why didn't I just block him? Great question. In some odd way, it fulfilled this sort of satisfaction on my end that I had "power." Of course, I later realized that it wasn't about my power at all. I was merely fulfilling some need of his to make himself still known, so long as I still saw his bread crumbs, or responded to them. The bread crumber themselves isn't actually looking to make you feel cared for; they are just trying to keep you in the dating game (and it's an extremely one-sided game in this case).
And so I ask: is a bread crumber someone you truthfully even want in your life in the first place? Bread crumbing isn't the decision to just lie ONCE to another person; it's the deliberate decision to lie over, and over, and over again. And for the bread crumber, it feels like the perfect system in the dating game. They're in "charge" of leaving the crumbs, while you are automatically placed in the role of picking them up. It's a cycle that is perpetuated by both sides. This is an important (and somewhat harsh) thing to remember: your bread crumber doesn't actually want you! If they did, they would've made a point to make that happen.