As a general rule, if you don’t know where you and a guy stand, it’s probably because he’s stringing you along. Or as Twitter would tell you, if you don’t know where you stand with a man, go stand next to someone else. If a guy wants to be with you, he’ll make sure you know it. And if you feel uncertain about where you two stand, that’s no accident.
Breadcrumbing is the millennial term for being strung along. According to Urban Dictionary, it’s the phenomenon that happens when someone you’re interested in “has no intentions of taking things further, but they like the attention. So they flirt here or there, send DM/texts just to keep the person interested, knowing damn well they’re staying single.”
Whether you call it breadcrumbing or stringing along, nobody wants to be a man or woman’s next victim. Here are 15 signs it’s happening to you.
He has to “get back to you” about plans
When you ask him to do something on a date in the future, he has to “get back to you.” In other words, he has to make sure there isn’t something better he can do first. Or that the woman he likes more didn’t want to hang out that day.
He won’t text for weeks and then he’ll text something really flirty
He’ll disappear for weeks, but then when he texts, he texts something so nice and so flirty that you can’t turn him down. Believe me: he knows that. That’s how he gets to be lazy for weeks, and then get you back the second he feels like it.
If you’re cool with things going nowhere but to his house or yours, respond. But if you know you want something more, it’s best to nip his flirting and conversations in general in the bud right now. The longer you tolerate his behavior, the harder it will be to let him go.
He’ll text you a lot, but not to make plans
He’ll text you pointless stories, or to vent about his work, or just to flirt at all hours of the day. But he won’t get around to asking you out. He just wants female attention—but he doesn’t want to put actual effort into dating you.
If you’re lonely and just want a digital penpal then engage him, but you run the risk of falling for him even more and getting your feelings hurt down the line.
He can’t find one hour to see you for a week
He is somehow too busy for a whole week to see you. Sorry but, if a guy wants to see you, he makes time, even if that means staying up later than he wants or skipping something else.
And while we’re on the topic of seeing, him watching your stories doesn’t translate into genuine interest. A number of articles have been writing on this perplexing topic and, according to experts, knowing he watched your story might make you smile but it won’t make you any less single.
He’s had plenty of plus-one events and has brought you to none
You happen to know he’s had several office parties, a friend’s birthday party, and a wedding he attended. And instead of inviting you with him on those nights, he told you he was tied up on those nights. There’s a reason he did that: he wanted to appear single at those events.
He invites you to lots of group things
He invites you to hang out, but only in group settings. That way, he has the option to hook up with you if he feels like it, but it’s not an official “date.”
A lot of us are trained to believe if a crush introduces us to their friends it means something, but to a man or woman fluent in breadcrumbing, meeting their friends just gives them an escape plan. It doesn’t mean they’re thinking long term.
He is all over you when you’re together
He barely makes time to see you but when he does, he’s all over you. Don’t take it as a compliment: he’s doing that because he knows he has no intention of seeing you again for a long time, so he’s copping a feel while he can.
Note that he also isn’t really getting to know you when he does this. You can likely sense the lack of intimacy and that’s not just because he didn’t bother to engage in foreplay. He’s not getting to know you, he’s getting to know your body.
He is uncomfortable around your friends
He is quiet and awkward around your friends, and seems uncomfortable when you touch him around them. He’s afraid if he acts too into you around your friends, you’ll read that as him wanting to be a big part of your life. He doesn’t have the same leg up as when he’s around his own people and they likely know he doesn’t want anything serious with you. He knows he may have to answer to your friends when things go south.
He texts you a lot when he’s feeling down
He texts you whenever he’s feeling insecure or like a failure. Basically, he uses you for an ego boost or for an emotional crutch. Any person who strings you along likely does this to a lot of other interested parties so he or she probably doesn’t have too many people to lean on when things are down. If this person has successfully strung you along long enough and you’ve hung around, they see no problem unloading their emotional burdens on you.
He deflects your compliments
If, when you’re together, you tell him he’s “so kind” or “so generous” or “such a good guy” he gives you an awkward “ha” and waves over the waitress to order another drink. He is avoiding a moment of intimacy. He’s also trying to downplay your level of interest in him in order to absolve himself of more responsibility when you finally realize he’s been playing games all of this time.
He says he isn’t into “labels”
Oh please—when a guy is into a woman, he is into labels. But also, a guy says this so that you can’t “label” the two of you as friends, because then he wouldn’t have the option to sleep with you when he wants to. Regardless of whether or not him not being into labels is true, recognize he is saying he doesn’t want to be in a committed relationship with you.
He suddenly ups his game when there’s competition
When other men are giving you attention, he’s suddenly all over you. But that’s the only time. He’s worried that the woman he texts for an ego boost or late night hookup will be taken away from him. He wants to maintain his position in his life and you and his and he knows if someone comes along treating you better, that might not happen.
He mostly talks about himself
On phone calls or in person, he talks extensively about himself, barely asking you about yourself. Again—he’s just looking for female attention, but not a give-and-take relationship. This can be hard deceptive behavior to recognize because we’re so conditioned to believe men don’t open up about themselves. Therefore if you come across one that does, you may think you brought that out of him. Nope. He’s simply using you as an emotional outlet.
If you don’t text him, he won’t text you
If you are honest with yourself, you know that if you didn’t reach out to him, he wouldn’t reach out to you. It only takes 48 hours or so to recognize this pattern. Anyone can skip a day (sort of), once you hit two days you notice if you haven’t talked to someone you are interested in and you reach out. If he doesn’t, there’s your answer.
He jokes about you liking other guys
If he sees you looking at another guy he says, “Oooh. You like that guy don’t you?” and seems totally okay with that. In other words, he wants you to know that you’re free to do what you want so that he is free to do what he wants. If that’s the kind of situation you’re down for, cool. If it’s not, cut your losses and the string he’s dangling you from.