A woman and man sit next to each other at a restaurant.

Breadcrumbing is the new ghosting and it’s savage. This is when you sprinkle tiny bread crumbs of attention on the person you’re dating so they stick around, even though you’re not invested in the relationship. 

Sometimes, breadcrumbing makes sense, at least in the early days. Why commit your time and feelings when you can keep things light and flirty until you know what you want, right? It might also make sense at the end of a brief fling. Breadcrumbing is one way to fade out so you avoid those awkward “we need to talk” conversations with someone you’re only casually dating.

But let’s be honest, breadcrumbing can also be a manipulation tactic. It’s a way to keep someone interested and involved while you pursue other options or just enjoy the attention. If it becomes a pattern in your dating life, it might say something about your commitment style or  your emotional availability.

Obviously you’re a moral person and we’re not saying you’d breadcrumb anyone. But if you had to crumble that metaphorical loaf, how would you scatter your crumbs? We reckon every Enneagram type would have their own unique approach.

Type 1: You set unrealistic standards they just can’t meet

Enneagram One, master of perfectionism and high expectation, you're equal parts honesty (no shady dating tactics here) and rigidity (if they don’t meet your standards, they’re out). If you decide to breadcrumb someone you’re dating, you might take it to the next level. You'll set unrealistic expectations for your dates and then watch them squirm as they try to measure up. So, without being cruel, you might find fault with everything the poor person does, as though gently nudging them to the door. 

Type 2: You stop doing nice things until they get the hint

Enneagram Twos go the extra mile in romantic relationships. Someone needs their bedroom repainted or a ride to the airport?  No problem, you’re there with a paintbrush or keys in hand! But here’s the kicker: beneath your generosity is a deep fear of being alone or abandoned. And fear can be a real mood killer, causing you to lose interest in the person and pull away before they can hurt you. Yes, it's self-sabotaging, but that's how you breadcrumb—by slowly withdrawing your kindness and affection until they get the hint that it’s over.

Type 3: You send “Sorry, I’m busy” texts 

Despite their go-getting reputation, Threes are actually empathetic and in tune with their partner’s feelings—when you can get them to step away from their desk, that is. As a Three, you don't have time to deal with red flags instead of red roses. So you simply focus on the million other things on your to-do list and let the person you’re dating figure out that it’s not working. No grand breakup speeches, no awkward conversations, just a simple “Sorry, I’m busy” text instead of making plans. Easy peasy.

Type 4: You pull further and further back until they feel like a stranger

Fours are free-spirited and they follow their feelings. You won’t stick around in boring relationships, or invest much effort into ending them. Instead, you’ll just stop asking them about their day, stop making plans together, and say no to watching another tedious movie. When they finally confront you about your distance, you’ll simply reply with “I’m just not feeling it anymore” and move on to the next romantic pursuit.

Type 5: You literally disappear 

Putting your heart on the table is scary, isn't it, Type Five? The more someone pushes you to express your feelings and connect, the more you’ll retreat into your space and shut down completely. As a breadcrumbing Five, you'll respond to their sweet texts with one-word replies and then you’ll put your phone on “do not disturb” mode so you can forget all about them for the next few days. Eventually, they'll get the hint and give you some much-needed space.

Type 6: You test your partner’s level of commitment

Of all the Types, Sixes are probably the most reluctant to breadcrumb a date. You're looking for support and commitment, but investing emotionally takes you a while so you tend to give things a fair shot. You'll only resort to breadcrumbing when you need to suss out your date’s intentions so you don’t waste your time on the wrong person. For example, you might set plans in advance to see if they have follow-through, or even flirt a little with other people in front of them to see if they get jealous or if they seem indifferent. It's not the nicest tactic, but it helps you feel more secure and trust your partner.

Type 7: You keep them laughing, but also guessing

Sevens love the chase because the start of a relationship is the most fun, right? The problem with the chase is that when the dust settles and you’re out of breath from all that running, you might be bored and keen to hit the eject button. When you decide to breadcrumb, you'll do it with a jester's grace. You'll crack jokes, share hilarious memes and make them giggle until their stomach hurts. But while they're wiping away tears of laughter, they might not notice you cleverly dodging serious discussions and deep emotional connections while reaching for the door. Nice. 

Type 8: You keep it surface level 

Eights are fierce, independent and plain-speaking, which means you won't breadcrumb in a passive-aggressive way—you’ll simply dodge the deep convos like a pro. Sidestepping coffee dates in favor of movie dates when you don't have to talk very much, choosing a loud bar instead of a quiet restaurant, avoiding those “what are we?” conversations with chatter about reality TV—your date will soon get the hint that you’re not in this for the long haul.

Type 9: You suddenly remember that you have boundaries

Nines are not exactly known for their strong boundaries, but they'll implement them as a secret weapon to get out of bad dates, fast. You say no to dates so you can “focus on yourself.” You end the date early because you have an “early start tomorrow.” You decline to go back to their place because your “roommate really needs you.” These are all ways of breadcrumbing without conflict and confrontation. Your date will have no choice but to walk away, setting you free and preventing awkward “Where is this going?” talk. Phew.

Giulia Thompson

Giulia Thompson is an Italian-South African freelance writer and editor with several years of experience in print and online media. She lives in a small town in South Africa with her husband and three cats. She loves reading, writing, and watching thrillers. As an Enneagram Type 4, she’s creative and loves surrounding herself with beauty.