To Top

Breadcrumbing Is Nothing New And People Should Stop Calling It A ‘Millennial Thing’

As if there weren’t enough negative trends associated with Millennials already, here comes a new one. The phrase “breadcrumbing” is picking up steam – the latest dating bad habit getting notice. Simply put, breadcrumbing is paying attention to someone just enough to make them believe you’re interested in them, even though you’re not. It’s a way of toying with someone, leading them around with false expectations, often for cheap sexual favors.

In other words, it’s a horrible thing to do. Some have compared it to ‘ghosting’ – the act of slowly disappearing from the presence of someone they’re supposedly seeing or involved with romantically. But breadcrumbing is a lot more sadistic. Instead of the clear signal of disinterest that ghosting gives, breadcrumbing sends mixed signals and garbles communication for the victim.

But this isn’t a Millennial thing. Breadcrumbing has actually been around for a quite a while.

Leading People On

The term ‘breadcrumbing’ was popularized between late January and early February. The hashtag #breadcrumbing went live on Twitter. The site Urban Dictionary came out with an updated definition of its entry, too: “When you follow someone (either on social media) for months, taking a deliberate interest in them and feigning interest in their every word with the hope it will contribute to some later payoff.”

However, some of Urban Dictionary’s terms go way back to 2010. If we take a closer look, breadcrumbing is not a new thing, nor is it “a Millennial thing”. The term was likely probably simply coined by Millennials, who have the greatest propensity to package things into hashtags and memes for easy scattering across the internet. But stamping a particular term certainly doesn’t mean they pioneered the act.

Way back , the act of breadcrumbing was much more simply known as ‘leading someone on’. People have been discussing this phenomenon on forums since ten years ago, or come on, forever. Off the internet, it’s surely been around since the concept of dating even began.

It’s a power play – a bad habit for those who want to play games because it gives them a sense of control or superiority. Breadcrumbing is all about the reward of feeling good and desired, but without the cost of expending genuine effort or offering commitment. That’s not something limited to a particular generation.

How To Avoid Breadcrumbing

As shared by Bustle, the best way to avoid being lead on is to recognize the signs as early as possible. If someone is vague about their future plans with you, but seems noncommittal, that’s a bad sign. For instance, they say “I’ll bring you to this place someday”, but never follow through. Another bad sign is that they’re unable to communicate their feelings properly with you – willing to talk casually, but never opening their heart about the deeper stuff.

Finally, look out for signs that they pop in and out of your life at their own convenience. For example, they text you out of the blue, after long periods of absence. Or, they ask to meet without acknowledging their radio silence, but never show up when you ask.

People may even do it without realizing it. But stay out of the way and avoid that trail.

Read More: Addicting Painful Love: Why People Stay In A Toxic Relationship

More in Culture