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Breadcrumbing is frustrating and annoying. It leaves you on a roller-coaster where you think the other person is interested in you, but at the same time, they seem to be ignoring you. 

They don’t respond to your texts but like the photos you share on your social media bullying.

What is breadcrumbing?

The Urban Dictionary defines breadcrumbing as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages in order to lure a partner without expending much effort”.

Someone who breadcrumbs leads you on by dropping small bits of interest – an occasional message, phone call, date plan or social media interaction. These happen sporadically and usually don’t have any follow-through. 

Once you stop responding or hint that you’re losing interest the person will usually up their efforts by making plans and following through. However, once they are certain they have your interest again, they drift off and the pattern begins anew.

What are the signs of a breadcrumber?

People who breadcrumb want to keep you interested, even when they have no real plans to follow through. This is why it wastes time and your emotional energy.

They might

  • Fail to reply to texts or chats for several days, then send a few long messages without explaining why they temporarily disappeared.
  • Keep you looking to the future with vague statements like, “let’s plan to do X or Y.”
  • Imply they’d love to see you but ignore your requests to make an actual plan.
  • View or like your social media posts without responding, while still ignoring actual messages you’ve sent.
  • Communicate primarily with photos, memes or emoji’s/

Why do people breadcrumb?

There are many reasons why a person may breadcrumb. They may have poor time management and communication skills. They may like the idea of a relationship but find the actual commitment more than they can handle.

However, there are other reasons such as

  • The breadcrumber may have such poor self-esteem, they are using the other person as a “pick-me-up” when they feel low.
  • They may like the validation it gives them in the dating world to know they have these potential partners waiting for them.
  • The breadcrumber has narcissistic personality traits and is using their behaviour to manipulate the other person.

How to respond?

Breadcrumbing is as hurtful as other behaviour like ghosting. It contributes to feelings of loneliness and helplessness because you are putting your life on hold for someone who shows just enough interest to give you a sense of hope but not enough to provide the connection you want.

How do you deal with it?

Be open about the behaviour you are experiencing.

Point out their behaviour to them. This shows

  1. Your awareness of any attempts to lead you on.
  2. It gives them the opportunity to share any concerns that might be getting in the way of regular communication and dating.

Remember if they deny your experience of their behaviour and tell you, you are just imagining it – they are gaslighting you.

Respond to your own needs

We can be so focused on the other person we forget out own needs. Remember, to have a healthy relationship, you must look after your own needs just as much as the needs of your partner.

Don’t waste time on the crumbs when you want a complete relationship.