How to Know If Someone’s Breadcrumbing You

Or is just awful at showing interest.

Doug confused the hell out of me. I spent our first date completely uncertain whether he was interested in me, but then he sent me an impassioned text message a day later: “I really wanted to kiss you last night, but I just got really nervous.”

“That’s nice to hear,” I told him. “Let’s do that next time!”

We scheduled another date. I went into it thinking this time I’d have a clearer understanding of whether he was into me. I was disappointed though. At the end of the date, he gave me a quick hug and tried to flee to his car.

“Really?!?” I called to him.


“You told me you wanted to kiss me, and you’re really going to duck and run?”

He bashfully walked back to me and leaned down to kiss me.

After that, he continued to blow hot and cold for three more dates.

“You’re getting breadcrumbed,” my friend told me.

Breadcrumbing is defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie ‘breadcrumbs’) in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.”

“I don’t think so,” I told her. “I mean, we haven’t even had sex yet.”

“But it’s not going anywhere, right?”

“Well…maybe,” I said tentatively. I just wasn’t really sure at the time.

If you’ve ever been in this same situation, here are some questions to ask yourself to decide if it’s time to leave or to hang on a bit longer.

1. What are your conversations like?

If the conversations stay relatively generic or shallow, it’s likely you’re being breadcrumbed. That’s also especially true if the conversations always and quickly move to sex.

Someone who is interested in you will have meaningful conversations with you, even if it may take them more time to open up.

Doug and I had meaningful conversations, or so I thought. When I looked back, I realized that he often actively re-directed all conversations away from himself back to me. I took this as interest in me, but when I really thought about it, I realized he wasn’t sharing much about himself with me.Even when I directly asked him questions, he’d often give me a short response and immediately ask me the same question.

While the conversations weren’t generic or shallow, since both of us weren’t being intimate or vulnerable, it means we weren’t both building toward a more intimate relationship.

2. How long do you go without talking?

It’s common for people not to talk every day at the beginning of a new relationship, but if you’re only hearing from them erratically for a long period of time, it’s generally a sign that they have other things on their mind, and you’re not one of them.

Breadcrumbers will reach out to you only when they randomly think about you, while someone who is interested will show that by communicating at least consistently.

Doug and I talked sporadically. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes not for several days.

3. How long do you go without seeing each other?

How often a couple sees each other will be different for every relationship, but if you rarely see them, you’re not their priority. You’re likely not even in their top 10. People who breadcrumb often want to keep their options open, and they very well may be hanging out with someone else while they aren’t seeing you.

If you make plans and they keep them more often than not (rain checks may happen), it’s a sign of true interest.

Doug often had a reason why we couldn’t see each other. He was traveling or busy or had too many plans. Being a single mother, I also had limited time, and he lamented to me, “It just seems like our schedules don’t match up right now.”

His excuses seemed fishy to me. He didn’t have children or other responsibilities, so what exactly was he doing? We were lucky to see each other once every couple of weeks.

4. Do you just have sex when you get together?

Maybe you went out on a couple of dates, but now you’re just hanging out at night or when a bed is nearby. This isn’t a real relationship and is often the m.o. of the breadcrumber.

Someone who is genuinely interested in you will hang out with you in ways other than sex.

5. Who’s taking the initiative?

Breadcrumbers want to do as little work as possible. They want the emotional labor of keeping the relationship going to fall to you. They’ll rarely text you first unless they notice you haven’t reached out to them in a bit.

Making plans? They hope you’ll suggest them, but they may or may not hang out. If they’re going to, they’ll likely make plans super last minute (maybe because something else for them fell through), or they’ll want to make sure sex will be an option.

Even if someone isn’t the best at showing their interest, you still shouldn’t be doing all of the work. If you don’t know whether you are or aren’t, try not texting them first for a few days and see how often they reach out to you.

Who was texting more: me or Doug? Me.

6. Is your relationship progressing?

This is the biggest question to ask yourself because relationships with breadcrumbers stay exactly the same. If someone is interested in you, the relationship will progress, though it may be slowly if it’s harder for them to open up.

In a last ditch effort to move…whatever we had going on forward, I came onto Doug. Days and weeks later, absolutely nothing had changed.

My verdict about Doug? He was a well-disguised breadcrumber. He might not have been just using me for sex, but he wasn’t giving me the building blocks of a real relationship.

If you’re not okay with your relationship, then be honest with yourself about what’s happening and talk to your partner about it.

If they’re breadcrumbing you, it’d be wise for you to express to them what you would like, and if those things don’t change, move on (as in, “Hey, I want to go on real dates. Not just have you over for sex.” etc.). Breadcrumbers aren’t likely to change, but at least you’ll have done your part to say what you will and won’t put up with.

Often those who do poorly at showing their interest may need help in doing so. Tell them you like them and can see this going somewhere, but you’re not sure if you’re willing to keep waiting. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them get there.

Relationships can be difficult, but you shouldn’t have to wonder where you stand with the person you’re dating. If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask, and make sure to pay attention to whether their words are matching up to their actions.

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