Are You Being Breadcrumbed? Here's How To Tell

No one likes to be ghosted. One minute, you guys can't get enough of each other. And then suddenly, your texts and DMs are ignored without any explanation or even so much as a "bye." It sure is rough when Prince Charming turns into Casper the Unfriendly Ghost — but, it's not actually the worst. What indeed is the worst is being "breadcrumbed," where you're left in a sort of lover's limbo (per Cosmopolitan).  "It leaves you confused and with 'hope,'" a 21-year-old dater explained to Swipe Life. "Whereas with ghosting, at least they left you alone and aren't making you confused about whether there's still a chance."

The word "breadcrumbs" is a funny term — maybe it makes you think of chicken parmesan, and how can that be a bad thing? But instead, recall from your childhood that disturbing fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Two children run away from home and leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind them so they can find their way back — but birds eat those breadcrumbs and the brother and sister end up lost. Breadcrumbing in a romantic relationship (or a friendship) works exactly the same way: The person leaves little clues that seem to be pointing you in a particular direction, but actually ... your relationship is going nowhere.

Signs you're being breadcrumbed

You might be getting tossed breadcrumbs if your communication seems to drop off — those sexy texts have all but evaporated, and instead you get an occasional meme with no personal comments. In person, breadcrumbing works a little differently — don't be surprised if you get tons of attention, even some heated flirting, when you're in a group setting, but then zero attempts to socialize with you privately (per MindBodyGreen). Another definition of breadcrumbing: Instead of friends with benefits, it's just benefits. This is being in a situationship instead of a relationship, and it always stays in the shallow end.

People who breadcrumb tend to be non-confrontational and emotionally immature. They either can't decide what they want or are too chicken to break things off. "They're usually pretty afraid, and don't want to put themselves out there consistently," Rosara Torrisi, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist, told Men's Health. The best way to deal with it? Be the adult and demand clarity. "The more direct we are, the more mature our confrontations are," Torrisi added. "Own your feelings and then make a request," whether that's asking for daily text check-ins or a weekly date. If you hear crickets to these demands, recognize that your relationship with your breadcrumber has gone stale, and that it's likely time to move on.