Are you settling for breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbing is a rather new term being used a lot by those who are single and using online dating sites and apps. If you haven't come across this experience yet, you are one of the lucky ones. After all, who wants to be strung along by someone feigning attraction and interest, but who has no intention of pursuing a relationship? If you have come across signs of this behavior, you might be finding it difficult to ascertain someone's true motivations; because when someone is an effective breadcrumber they have great excuses that they employ skillfully; and if your interest in them is strong, you may edit out anything you don't want to see or hear. If any of the following are being used on you, it's a good bet he or she is breadcrumbing you. If so, all you have to do is refuse to play along. If it turns out they are really interested, they will stop dropping bread crumbs and lay a red carpet instead.

He has sent several texts over a number weeks, but in-between there is only silence

When a guy is interested, really interested, he will be persistent. He might begin with a text, but won't let too much time pass before following up, especially if you texted him back. When it is sporadic, it's a good bet he is busy communicating with other women and when he has a spare moment, he texts just to keep you in the wings, just in case things slow down and/or someone he is currently pursuing falls through.

Her preferred mode of communication is messages to you via social media

It doesn't really get any less personal than that. Messaging through social media keeps a barrier in place and women who are really interested don't want anything coming between them and the object of their interest. If she is into you she will send more private (note, intimate) messages via text or voice mail/phone.

She can be suggestive and flirty one minute and distant the next

This on-again, off-again behavior suggests mixed feelings at the very least. The bottom line is that she is either interested or not. After getting to know you better she may cool off or heat up, depending on the strength of your connection. If you immediately respond with interest following a flirty message and she takes a step back, this is a red flag. We call this the pursuing-distancing dynamic, where when one person takes a step towards the other, they in turn take one or two back. Do you really want to start a relationship with someone who is only into you when they perceive you as a challenge? Move on to someone who wants what you want and is clear in expressing it.

He likes to talk about the fun you two will have, but he never offers a what, when, and where

In a nutshell, he wants to share those things with someone, but is clearly not sure that it is you. This kind of inconsistency between what someone says and what they do points to mixed feelings at best. This is classic breadcrumbing behavior and it really has NO OTHER interpretation than what you get is what you get, and in this case it is nothing. Give him one pass, then drop all communication as it is a waste of your time and energy.

You respond to his texts or online messages, but all that comes back is silence

Men ALWAYS have time for a woman they are interested in, always. If he never gets around to responding, says he was busy, apologizes for not seeing your message, etc.--he is just not that into you. This can happen once, but if you see a pattern, move on. Too many women make excuses for a guy's behavior because they have imagined him to be this great guy for them--yet they have no real information about him and no in-person experiences to base their feelings on. Kind of like being catfished, no?

You have suggested a couple of new first date venues, but he always has a great excuse why he can't

If you have no other online dating rules, this is one you must follow. Don't wait more than a week (or two tops) to meet in-person. Everyone is busy with work, social and family commitments, pressing projects, and other distractions that often overwhelm them and leave them overbooked. We all get this. However, if someone is unwilling or unable to make time in their schedule for even a brief hour or two, then they are not ready or able to begin a relationship. Again when something is important to us, we make it a priority. If you start out with someone who never takes the time for you, imagine a relationship with them down the road. You can bet that you and your relationship would usually be last on their priority list.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"How to wow your Tinder date"
List of more "Help With Dating" articles

"Assessing your date's possibilities by the venue they choose"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.