Shakespeare said the course of true love never ran smooth, but in the world of app-based dating, the potential for failure is so great that there is now a whole glossary of confusing and depressing terms to describe your flailing romances.
A breadcrumber keeps their metaphorical bird interested by leaving a trail of morsels that may hint at a future meetup, but when questioned on the topic, are stubbornly vague on whether a relationship will actually blossom.
Serial breadcrumbers can range from the dater that likes your Instagram posts 53 weeks deep, but never actually gets in touch, to those that regularly text you just to ‘check in’, but fall off the map again after a brief flirtatious conversation.
“The worst type of breadcrumber is the one who resurfaces every six months, and like the Loch Ness monster, you almost can’t believe this creature has come back into your life,” Alicia Winokur, a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, told the New York Times. “But there he is, saying, ‘Hey, I was just thinking about you’.”
Ask any of your single friends in the capital and they’ll probably have a breadcrumb horror story from the front line of dating.
Alice, 27, from Hackney, was recently subjected to the oblivion of being breadcrumbed: “We texted each other every single day for an entire year, occasionally meeting up for dinner and sex.
“Then he went silent. I tried to get in touch and got nothing back. He then started liking my Instagram pictures and I took the bait – I messaged him and we started talking again… and lo and behold, he disappeared again.
“It’s been six months and he’ll still randomly reply to my tweets, or like a Facebook profile photo from three years ago.”
Alice thinks that while ghosting is not ideal, being breadcrumbed is a far worse fate for a dater.
“I’ve been ghosted before, it hurts,” she says, “but it’s just laziness.”
“Breadcrumbing takes time. It takes effort. It takes emotional manipulations. And my god, thinking you’re in a relationship with someone who just wants you on tap until something better comes along sucker punches you far harder than just being ignored.”
A recent study has shed some light on the phenomenon of breadcrumbing, revealing that it’s normal for millennials to date six people at any one time – lining up a handful of potential partners to take their fancy.
So if you’re currently working through the abyss of anxiety that comes hand-in-hand with being breadcrumbed by a significant other, take solace in the fact that you’re probably unknowingly throwing tiny pieces of text-based bread at someone else.
Kerry, 30 from Peckham, said she breadcrumbed a guy without even realizing: “I liked him but I didn’t really see it being a relationship from the get-go – more of a flirty banter that might have one day turned into more.
“I was texting someone else that I thought had more potential to be a serious thing. To be honest, I didn’t even realize I was stringing him along.”
The worst thing about breadcrumbers? You probably won’t realize you’ve met one until it’s too late, and you’re wondering why you haven’t been on a second date in two months while they’re still flirting up a storm with you on Whatsapp.
Sadly, there is no solution to this thoroughly modern dilemma. No amount of passive-aggression or casual retorts will convince a breadcrumber to fall for you.
Our advice? STOP picking up the crumbs.