First there was 'ghosting', the Urban Dictionary defined "act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date". Now there is 'breadcrumbing', "The act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (i.e. "breadcrumbs") to members of the opposite sex in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort."
The term breadcrumbs, as you probably guessed, refers to the the trail left in Hansel and Gretel. A path that is meant to lead you back home, but actually leads you nowhere.
A New York Times article titled 'The Agony Of The Digital Tease' explains how there can be many different types of dropped crumbs, from liking an Instagram post from weeks ago to sending a random emoji with no accompanying text.
"The worst type of breadcrumber is the one who resurfaces every six months" graduate Alicia Winkour told the New York Times, "and like the Loch Ness monster, you almost can't believe this creature has come back into your life. But there he is, saying, 'Hey, I was just thinking about you'."
Jordana Narin, another interviewee, explained how she was convinced one breadcrumber tried to use as few characters as possible when typing. "So a sample text from him would be 'wht are ur plans tmro' or 'are u in city,' abbreviating some words and writing others out fully. It was like a game of how little effort could he put into it."
Sherry Turkle a professor studying dating and technology at M.I.T. spoke to the New York Times to explain: "They can have the paradoxical effect of making the person who receives them feel let down rather than gratified, but then, confused: Is one asking for too much? Should one feel satisfied with a smiley face or a series of exclamation marks or a string of emojis?"
To be honest, we've all had that rush of excitement when they get back in touch, but it probably isn't worth the furious look you give your phone for the next 10 hours when you don't hear anything else.