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Avoiding Online Dating Sabotage: Breadcrumbing, Benching & Ghosting

It is harder today to be single than ever before. We may have more choices with online dating, but it comes with the landmine of bad dating activity. The artificial environment created by online has brought forth some crude dating behaviors. Let’s tackle the big three (in order of progression): breadcrumbing, benching and ghosting.


Definition: The act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie “breadcrumbs”) to members of the opposite sex in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.

Dating scenario: This typically occurs before the first meet up. After you’ve been matched online, you receive a number of messages, but no actual plans for a first date. There’s just enough correspondence to think they’re still interested; maybe even an ambiguous invitation for a lunch date. Then there’s no follow through.

Reason: They’re playing a flirtatious game and like the ego boost. There’s a potential to move you into a first date and then bench you.

Remedy: Ghost the “breadcrumber”.


Definition: It’s when someone decides they don’t want to date you full on, but like knowing that you’re still into them, so they string them along by liking your pics and posts on social media and occasionally texting or messaging you — with no intention of ever actually following through and turning the low-key flirtations into a real thing. You’re not off the team, you’re just benched.

Dating scenario: After a period of radio silence when you’re just about to move on, the bencher sends a text as to the reason they’ve been unable to meet up/communicate with you. Thereby keeping you hooked, or on the bench. **Breadcrumbing may be used during your benching phase.

Reason: You’re not part of the first string. Get ready to play if coach decides to put you in.

Remedy: Schedule a meet up. If he/she no shows then ghost the “bencher”.


Definition: (to) end a personal relationship with (someone) by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Dating scenario: After a few dates and/or weeks, the communication drops off. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Your follow up texts or phone calls receive no response.

Reason: Said love interest is no longer interested.

Remedy: Move on and blacklist the “ghoster” for future reference.

Are any of these dating behaviors good examples of how adults should treat each other? Of course not! Does it happen? Unfortunately with online dating, it happens more frequently than we’d like. I only outline the above to educate you should you find yourself in one (if not all three) situations.

Why do we act this way? People are complicated and irrational creatures. We justify the most absurd actions. If you are self aware enough to understand that the other person at the end of the text, or Instagram post you just ‘liked’ is a real human being, then take the higher road. I do believe acts of decency in the age of online dating will set out recourse for good dating karma. Who knows? You may just run into a matchmaker or dating coach that can help you find the person you’re looking for.


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