This Is What It's *Really* Like To Be Breadcrumbed

Amanda Chatel

When I first heard the term "breadcrumbing," in regards to dating, I immediately thought it was somehow food related... because of course I did. In my mind, it sounded like it was some sort of sexual technique, one that I would master, because food and sex should always go together like peanut butter and jelly. But, much to my disappointment, breadcrumbing isn't what I thought. At all.

Instead, "breadcrumbing" is when someone wants to call it quits, but instead of disappearing into thin air or telling you they're not interested, they continue your texting relationship.

"Breadcrumbing is worse than ghosting because it is more sadistic," psychiatrist and relationship expert Carole Lieberman, M.D. tells Bustle. "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."

When someone breadcrumbs you, they're basically leading you on for their own benefit. They don't want to be with you, but they don't want to totally let you go either, so they drop "breadcrumbs" to lure you in, only to push you away. Then they'll proceed to breadcrumb you again with flirty texts, lure you back in and, basically, if you don't come to your senses, it becomes a vicious cycle. It sucks. It's also something that I assumed would never happen to me, because really, how many people out there could be that rude? Oh, foolish me.

I, Amanda Chatel, am currently being breadcrumbed. In addition to sucking, here's also what it's like.

How It Started

I'd only been in Rome a couple days when I received a message via Facebook from an Italian guy who was inquiring about my job as a sex and relationships writer. I immediately got defensive, as he seemed to be mansplaining me, so I attempted to shut him down. But he kept sending me messages and I told myself that the language barrier might be what was impairing my ability to read his tone correctly, so I let my guard down a bit and eased up.

After much badgering on his part, I decided to meet him. I had zero intention of dating anyone while I was here in Rome and was only on Tinder because I find the cultural differences from country to country to be really fascinating. But with this guy, I figured since he made such an effort to track me down, I could give him a few minutes of my time. And, if nothing else, it would made for an interesting story.

The "Dates"

I let him come over to my place on a Saturday afternoon because, despite what I interpreted as mansplaining and some fair share of aggression on his part in wanting to meet up with me, I live in a main square here in Rome. So, if anything went awry and I needed to yell out the window for assistance, there'd be hundreds of people to call out to.

He showed up with wine and we talked for hours and hours, with nothing physical happening. I learned that Italians don't have a word for "dating," he fancies himself an expert in relations between men and women, from a psychological standpoint, and he thoroughly enjoys hearing himself speak, among other things.

It may not have been a "date," according to him, but we did spend 30+ hours together and it was, surprisingly, really fun.

After hours of talking, we went to get food, which was followed by lots of sex well into Sunday, then him making me dinner on Sunday night before leaving. It may not have been a "date," according to him, but we did spend 30+ hours together and it was, surprisingly, really fun!

The second time I saw him, just a couple days later, we got food and had lots of sex again. As one does. We also talked a lot about intimacy, connection, honesty, and communication. All that stuff that makes for a great relationship — romantic or otherwise. I found myself opening up to him in ways that usually takes me forever to do. In the couple days that had passed, he'd been texting me a lot; texts that were riddled with "baby," a term that I'm not a fan of, but one that I find European guys just love to use so I deal with it. He was really cute and funny in those texts. He also sent me recordings of him singing, because he has a hell of a voice on him and a penchant for singing "Dick in a Box." No joke.

It was also on this "date," that I suggested we take the train to Napoli to get pizza that upcoming weekend, to which he responded, "I never make plans in advance." Well then. He left at 5 a.m. that morning.

Having only received a couple texts from him in the couple days that followed, I went out on a limb and see if he wanted to hang out on Saturday. He did. He came over with an expensive bottle of wine and proper wine glasses that he had just bought, because this Airbnb flat doesn't have proper wine glasses. He also put a cute note on the box, which led me to believe he actually put thought and effort into this whole thing. It was quite adorable.

When we went to dinner that night, he went out of his way to find a place with lots of porcini mushroom dishes on the menu, because they're my favorite. There was a lot of hand-holding and cuddling going on — so much so that I was like, OMG, Chatel, he is really into you! You should totally move to Rome and be with him!" Actually, not so much of the latter, but it did cross my mind, because pizza.

Again, he spent the night, we spent all day Sunday together, and he made me dinner before he left. That night I got a "goodnight, baby," message before he went to bed.

And So Began The Breadcrumbing

On Monday, I sent him the usual, "I hope you're having a great day," message and got nothing back. I assumed he was busy. When I finally heard from him several hours later, all I got was "thanks."

Later that night I texted him about an Italian song I heard on Master of None, followed by an inquiry about his plans for the following day. When I heard back, some 12 hours later, he ignored the part about the song and gave me a short reply about how he was tired. I mentioned something in regards to his ambition, which he shot down with, "I'm not ambitious." Fine; don't be ambitious.

I didn't even bother to contact him the next day and he didn't bother to contact me either. But then I caved a day later and wished him a good day. His response? "Thanks, you, too," with improper grammar and no "baby."

Days went by and I heard nothing. So, I called him out on his behavior. His response? "Baby, how are you? Baby, what makes you feel these things? I can't understand why you are in this negative state?" To which I told him to stop insulting us both. Then the texts turned cold, immediately dropping "baby" from the equation again, before I even had a chance to see him and tell him to his face that I knew what he was doing. It was at that point I was forced to look myself in the mirror, face palm, and admit what I didn't want to admit: He was breadcrumbing me.

Where I Am Now

At this point, I haven't heard from him at all in several days and I'll be damned if I reach out. I will not be breadcrumbed by some guy who thinks that such behavior is even slightly OK. Ghosting isn't OK, benching isn't OK, and breadcrumbing isn't OK.

He claimed to be all about honesty and communication, and he can't muster the necessary integrity for two lousy seconds to put those two things into motion?

Exactly when did we, as a society, become so rude? I have never, would I ever, treat someone with such flagrant disrespect even if I wasn't sure what I wanted from them or with them. I, unlike this guy and every other person who thinks this is an appropriate way to handle things, would suck it up and be honest. I mean, this guy claimed to be all about honesty and communication, and he can't muster the necessary integrity for two lousy seconds to put those two things into motion? Come the eff on, dude — you're 33; not 15.

I don't know if he's going to attempt to breadcrumb me again or if he'll just disappear. If he does try to, I don't know if I'll ignore him or tell him exactly what I think of him, colorfully decorated with a few dozen expletives. But what I do know is that breadcrumbing is sh*tty; it's no way to treat people and what he has done has reduced us both to stereotypes: He's the assh*le guy and I'm the woman sitting over here condemning all guys while wondering what I did wrong when, in fact, I did nothing wrong.

I'm not sure what will happen to him; if he'll ever find what he's looking for in the way of love and relationships, but I am sure that if he continues to treat people this way, he's going to have a very lonely life. However, that's his cross to bear. I leave Rome soon and will be on the beaches of Barcelona for the month of June. I guarantee, by July, I will have forgotten his name. In fact, I already have.