Breadcrumbing – Worse than Ghosting?

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Which do you think is worse: being breadcrumbed or being ghosted? We have previously written about ghosting, which is when someone with whom you have had a date, or have been texting or emailing (or, heaven forbid, talking with on the phone), disappears without even the courtesy of telling you that they have decided that they are not interested, or are perhaps interested in or seeing someone else. Breadcrumbing, on the other hand, is when they don’t disappear, even though they are no longer genuinely interested in you (if they ever were).

Instead, they lead you on.

More specifically, to breadcrumb someone is to lead them on by sending text messages – alluring, enticing, flirty text messages – that never lead anywhere. Nor are the breadcrumbs intended to lead anywhere. They just string you along.


Some feel that even the act of just sporadically ‘liking’ a Facebook or Instagram post – just enough to let you know they are there without having to actually engage you – is also breadcrumbing, although we think that is a greyer area.

But flirting with you, to keep you interested, without intention of follow-through, that’s much less grey.

The Urban Dictionary defines breadcrumbing as “When a guy or girl gives someone just enough attention to keep their hope of a relationship alive,” and Bustle says that it is when someone “gives you enough attention that you think not all hope is lost.”

PopSugar has come up with a dictionary-style definition of breadcrumbing all their own:

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Breadcrumbing – Worse than Ghosting?

Breadcrumbing (noun): The act of sporadically sending flirtatious yet noncommittal text messages (i.e., “breadcrumbs”) to someone at random times in order to keep up their hopes that a relationship may form in the future although there are no actual intentions of dating.

And this rude trend is not limited to the just U.S.. For example, the UK’s Sun says that “Just like the name suggests, the dating sin involves leaving a trail of “breadcrumbs” for your unsuspecting victim to follow,” explaining that “the cheeky messages don’t actually result in a romantic date.”

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In Ireland the Independent describes breadcrumbers as “people who contact you intermittently in order to keep you interested, but are stubbornly vague on whether a relationship will ever blossom. Then they vanish, and the cycle starts again. They keep you in limbo, just in case someone better comes along.”

Wherever it is happening, some experts say that breadcrumbing is by far the worse practice, as between ghosting and breadcrumbing, at least in terms of the intent of the breadcrumber.

Says psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman, in the Bustle article, “Breadcrumbing is worse than ghosting because it is more sadistic. Ghosting is merely a coward’s way out of a relationship. Breadcrumbing is a slow and painful death of a relationship, whereas ghosting makes it clear — eventually — that the person is gone.”

That, however, is from the perspective of the perpetrator’s intentions, or lack thereof.

But what about the ones who are on the receiving end of being breadcrumbed? What do you think?

Would you rather be ghosted, or breadcrumbed?

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Breadcrumbing – Worse than Ghosting?

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4 Replies to “Breadcrumbing – Worse than Ghosting?”

  1. Having been on the receiving end of both ghosting (twice in the past) and breadcrumbing (recently): breadcrumbing is worse. I forget about ghosts within a week or less, and I move on. The breadcrumbs do not let you forget, and it has been very hard to move on each time a little bit of false hope comes along. The one thing that annoys me a lot is the fact the breadcrumbs I received weren’t even flirtatious or curious; they were merely “hi” and one three-word-comment about himself, never once asking me “how are you?” or any other variation.

  2. Thanks for this. I was puzzled and wondered if it was just me but of course this sort of thing happens to many people BY many people. Who knows why but the last time looked like ghosting- after complete interest there was nothing and then some weeks later an email. Still, it puts other times in perspective

    To you who do either: I won’t wish it on you because I’d rather nobody do it but could you all think about why you do it, maybe journal about it, and then stop? Ok, thanks.

  3. Yes, I’ve been breadcrumbed. I appreciate this situation being put in concrete words to fully understand what has transpired. I was totally naive. Now I understand. I feel like an idiot, but smarter & wiser & actually more forgiving of myself Thanks for the clarity!

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