By now, you've probably heard about the new dating trend breadcrumbing, aka the particularly awful new way to have your emotions toyed with by someone you're romantically interested in. At this point, a lot of us seem to be agree on the fact that ghosting totally sucks, but I'd venture to say that breadcrumbing is even worse. It's basically ghosting's sadistic cousin: instead of disappearing completely, the person leads you on by giving you just enough attention to think that they're still into you. Not only is it rude AF, but it also seriously wastes your time — time that you could be spending looking for a partner who won't treat you like sh*t.
In a perfect world, there'd be no such thing as rejection or unrequited crushes or heartbreak. Unfortunately, modern dating — though more convenient in a lot of ways — has brought with it an onslaught of painful new ways to have our romantic dreams crushed. Dating apps might be a fun way to meet new people and hopefully even make a real love connection, but this new breadcrumbing trend is proof that having thousands of single people to chat with can bring out some seriously bad dating behavior in less mature men and women. Although everyone has the right to pilot their dating life the way they see fit, that doesn't mean it's cool to be a d*ck and mess with people's emotions by leading them on when you know you're not interested.
Here are five signs that someone is breadcrumbing you — if these sound a little too familiar, do yourself a favor and don't take the bait.
1They're Vague About Future Plans
It might not be realistic to plan a trip to Harry Potter World with someone you're not in a serious relationship with, but if you're talking to someone who's averse to making any plans at all with you, that's a red flag.
"Vague allusions to future events — e.g. 'I'll take you there one day' — with zero follow through on making that happen or moving the relationship forward in any consistent way [is a sign of breadcrumbing]," Francesca Hogi, an NYC-based love and life coach, tells Bustle.
2They Text Super Sporadically
According to Hogi, if someone's go-to method of contact is sending "out-of-the-blue texts after long periods of silence without any acknowledgement of their absence," you should be on your guard. I know that stuff happens and people get busy, but if you notice a pattern where someone frequently ignores your texts, then conveniently pops back into your inbox when they want something (like a hookup or sext sesh), trust your gut and find someone worthy of your time and attention.
3They Flirt Mostly Via Social Media
Is there anything in the world more irritating than when someone takes the time to double-tap your Instagram, but can't seem to actually text you back? Social media flirtation is fine if you're both on the same page (and, ya know, actually communicate in other ways), but if they're mysteriously AWOL until you post a particularly fire selfie, beware — they might just be sliding into your DMs because they're bored and like the ego boost of digital flirting.
4They Pop In And Out Of Your IRL Life
One of the most irksome things about breadcrumbing is that, typically, the person doesn't even bother to see you IRL, instead opting to interact only occasionally via text. But breadcrumbing doesn't just exist in cyberspace: someone can hang out with you IRL and still give you the same shitty breadcrumbing feeling.
"When you do see each other, you have a great time and they mention wanting to hang out again, but then poof," Hogi says. "It's like you're being ghosted over and over again!"
5They're Not Big On 'Feelings' Talk
You don't have to have a serious heart-to-heart with someone every week, but if someone seems allergic to expressing how they feel (or don't feel) about you, it could be a sign that they're just texting you as a way to entertain themselves. Casual relationships and open communication aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, I'd argue that communicating with a casual hookup is even more important, so everyone is on the same page. Don't let someone convince you that you're in the wrong for wanting to move a conversation past idle chit chat and directionless flirting.
If any of these warning signs ring true to you, take this as an official challenge to do better for yourself, and get rid of anyone who doesn't treat you with the respect and full attention you deserve. And breadcrumbers: for the love of God, just stop.