Karen Fratti
Updated Aug 08, 2017 @ 4:48 pm

Now that everyone’s hip to what it means to be ghosted, terrible people on online dating sites have discovered yet another way to be crummy: breadcrumbing. Like ghosting, breadcrumbing usually happens in the early stages of a relationship (or meeting someone). And, like ghosting, it can have an awful effect on your mental health and make you feel like you’re losing your grip on reality. So you need to learn how to spot the signs of being breadcrumbed so you can get out while it’s good, before you’ve made any sort of commitment — like crushing hard or actually picking up the tab for pricey first-date drinks.

So what is breadcrumbing exactly?

It’s when a potential partner gives you just enough to keep coming back, or a reason to keep believing that something — an actual date or hook up — is going to happen. Breadcrumbing is more common for people on dating apps and it’s not always the other person’s fault. Maybe they don’t really know why they’re doing it; Maybe they’re actually getting a kick out of teasing you. Either way, it’s manipulative AF, so it’s better to spot the signs of a breadcrumber early on so you know to get the heck out of there, fast.

Here are some signs that you’re being breadcrumbed.

1You haven’t met up in person yet.

There was recently a viral story about two college students on Tinder jokingly messaging each other every, say, four months. It was funny, since they were both forgetting to message back and sort of making fun of the whole late night Tinder-ing scene. But if you have someone in your DMs who shows up every few days — or WEEKS — just to chat and haven’t made a solid plan yet, you’re taking their breadcrumbs.

2You get in touch on the “big days.”

Maybe you have an established dating app chat or text thread going on, just it’s only on holidays or Saturdays or something. If you have someone showing up just to chat and suggesting that you see each other “sometime soon!” there’s a problem. It could be that this person wants to keep you on the side just in case. You deserve better.

3There’s always *something* last minute.

These are the worst breadcrumbers. These are the people who will actually go so far as to schedule a date or a time to meet, and then at the very last minute, something comes up. Every. Single. Time. And so your message history is just a bunch of plan-making and apologizing. Rinse, repeat. This person is actually getting off on the idea that they could get a drink with you if they wanted to…but they obviously don’t want to all that much.

4They’re sexting.

Maybe you had one date or hook up with someone, and now all you guys do is sext. Or your ex calls you to hook up and makes it seem like they’re still into hanging out out of the bedroom. That might work for you. But if you’re harboring some hope that one day things are going to go further than nudes on your phone or late-night booty calls, you might need to face the fact that they just aren’t that into you like that. Don’t be led on.

5They put it on you.

If you’re talking to your breadcrumber, and they make it seem like you’re the one who’s not giving too much back, even though you are OBVIOUSLY the last person to have reached out or tried to make a plan, run far, far away. Block that mofo. This is a tricky way to make it so that you don’t feel breadcrumbed — you feel sort of guilty that you haven’t been more available. Until you remember that you actually have been!

Breadcrumbing is basically emotional manipulation. Save yourself the trouble and stay far away.