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Ghosting (and benching and breadcrumbing), or exiting a burgeoning relationship without a word, is a routine occurrence. Clarissa Silva, MSW, a behavioral scientist and the creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, says that 80 percent of Millennials report having experienced it (or one of its derivatives, benching or breadcrumbing) — as have 50 percent of Gen Xers.

“Benching” means putting someone “on the sidelines” but not ending things completely, so you can play the field while keeping the other person as an option. “Breadcrumbing,” according to Silva, is “seducing a person into believing that they’re in a serious relationship, while keeping that person at bay, with no intention of having a real relationship.” Any of these can send even the most well-adjusted person into a spiral of insecurity or shame.

How to Move On

Key to moving on after being ghosted, benched, or breadcrumbed is to understand that it has nothing to do with you. Stop replaying events, rereading texts, or otherwise ruminating over the situation. And definitely don’t make excuses for someone else’s poor behavior; that will only prevent you from being open to a better option.


If you simply can’t move on without reaching out once, send a message that empowers you. Something like, “I get it if you’re not feeling a connection, but I’d appreciate you being direct about it.”

Whether they respond or not, you did your best and can now move on with your self-esteem intact to find a better match.

This was excerpted from “How to Use Dating Apps More Mindfully” which was published in the March 2023 issue of Experience Life.

Jessie Sholl

Jessie Sholl is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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