'Breadcrumbing' is the new brutal dating trend taking 2017 by storm.

In case you needed more proof that the dating world is getting more brutal by the day, another horrible rejection trend is taking hold.

Crueller than benching, more manipulative than ghosting. It’s called breadcrumbing.

Practised by commitmentphobes of both genders, the technique is basically what ‘leading someone on’ looks like in 2017.

It works like this: the offender baits you with tempting little morsels of attention – an occasional text perhaps, or an out-of-the-blue comment on your profile picture. Always casual, always noncommittal, but just enough to make you think they could be interested.

And so you follow the crumbs down the garden path, gobbling up every last one until you arrive at a little flirtation, maybe even a full-blown fling.

Then they’re gone again. Until… yep, a few months/weeks later, another late-night double-tap on your Instagram post.

If we were to build a profile of the average breadcrumber, it would be: a person who always seems to be interested, but never actually available; a person whom you’ve dated, but who’s never actually organised a single date; or a person who dumped you but doesn’t actually want you to see other people.

They tend to live just out of reach, have an aversion to speaking on the phone or using complete sentences and will typically communicate via the following phrases: “Sup”, “Hey stranger”, “You out tonight?”.

Neither willing to take it nor leave it, their presence is often characterised by the appearance then sudden disappearance of these three dots:

Approach them with caution. Or preferably not at all.

As Jessica Bennett wrote for The New York Times, “Breadcrumbers are one step shy of ghosters, who disappear without a trace, but are in more frequent contact than a person giving you the fade. On the hierarchy of digital communication, the breadcrumber is the lowest form.”

You’ve been warned.

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