Ghosting Is Bad, But “Crumbing” Might Be Worse


In a lot of ways, we can blame technology for the evolution of ghosting.

If it wasn’t for the hyper-connected reality afforded to us by Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, resulting in a world in which we’re engaging in unprecedented levels of content, there’s no way ghosting would have reached such epidemic proportions. Mostly because if it wasn’t for social media, we wouldn’t actually realise we were being ghosted in the first place.

Back in the 90s, if three weeks passed without hearing from a guy you were dating, you could quite happily attribute it to poor ethernet cable connection. The ol’ dial up was playin’ up. The silence wasn’t deafening, it was barely detectable. Today, if you haven’t heard from someone in three weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve been ghosted. TTC reader Paige (25) had been dating a guy for four months, met his family, and even booked a holiday overseas for a family member’s wedding. Two weeks before the trip he cut off all contact with her and she never heard from him again. Poof. VanishedLikewise for Phoebe (21), “We made plans for him to meet my parents but he never showed up for the lunch, ghosted me for three weeks and then ultimately dumped me over the phone.” Or Zoe (24) who had been living in Sydney with her boyfriend for one year – they’d moved to Australia together –  when he was asked to relocate to Melbourne for work, “He took all of our possessions with him to his apartment in Melbourne with the plan that he would visit me fortnightly until I could join him. One day he just never came back to Sydney for his fortnightly visit. No call. No text. Nothing. Just an Instagram post a few weeks later showing him out for dinner with colleagues. IN SYDNEY.”

Of course, there are the instances in which ghosting is simply a means to an end, like for one anonymous reader who was forced to ghost her boyfriend of two years after receiving a message from a girl who was eight months pregnant. I’ll let you guess who the father was. “The day I received that message I changed the locks on my house and my friends and I packed all of his belongings into a trailer and parked it in our driveway with a note attached. He tried calling, but I blocked his number and even now, year’s later, if I see him in public I’ll pretend he doesn’t exist.”  Or Julia (25), who was forced to ghost a guy after a casual romance resulted in him confessing his love for her during sex after only three weeks of dating, “I reminded him that I wasn’t looking for anything serious and didn’t feel that way but then he became really aggressive in his pursuit so I changed my mobile number and ghosted. He also sweated excessively during sex, but I could have moved past that.” Of course there are the model citizens like TTC reader Sarah (30) who has never, ever, ghosted someone, “I met my husband on Tinder, and back then – as cold as this sounds – I treated Tinder like a business transaction. I was honest about what I wanted, what I needed in a relationship and what I was willing to accept. Ghosting is simply a mechanism people use to avoid taking ownership of their true desires. It’s easier to ghost someone than it is to own your shit.”

I tend to agree Sarah. Whether you were the victim or the perpetrator, we can all admit that ghosting is unpleasant. But after probing readers of TTC for some etiquette advice, I found myself getting an education in something far worse: crumbing. “Crumbing” or “breadcrumbing” is the term used to describe the act of sending flirtatious, sporadic, non-committal messages, or ‘likes’ and comments on social media to a person in order to keep their interest without expending any effort. It’s doing the absolute bare minimum to keep yourself on a person’s radar. It’s liking someones Instagram photos and watching their Snap Stories but never actively talking to them. It’s putting out bread crumbs with no intention of offering the loaf, or even a single slice. Which leads me back to my first point: the rise in technology has made the world shrink and our anxiety explode. At no other point in history would it be possible for a person to take you out for drinks on a Monday, fall off the face of the planet on Tuesday and Wednesday, resurface with some stale crust on Thursday by way of Snapchat, and then miraculously slide into your Instagram DM’s at 11pm on a Saturday.

No wonder we’re so tired all the time.

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club