Dating was tough even before the internet. Throw social media and dating apps into the mix and you have a recipe for things to get messy. Unfortunately with the overabundance of options, manipulation tactics are becoming more common. While you may have heard of “ghosting” or “gaslighting”, breadcrumbing is another online dating tactic to watch out for. Breadcrumbing is the idea of leading someone on, and giving them hope of something more, when there’s no intention of following through. We’re letting you in on everything you need to know about breadcrumbing, from red flags to look out for to how to cope with a breadcrumber.
What Is Breadcrumbing?
Breadcrumbing the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal communication (“breadcrumbs”) to keep someone interested or maintain a minimal level of contact without fully investing in the relationship. It involves providing occasional attention, such as sending flirtatious texts, liking social media posts, or making promises of future plans, but then failing to follow through or provide meaningful engagement. It’s essentially leading someone on.
The intention behind breadcrumbing is to keep the other person emotionally invested, while the breadcrumber may not be genuinely interested in pursuing a committed relationship. It can be a way for someone to maintain a sense of control, boost their ego, or keep their options open without fully investing in a relationship.
Breadcrumbing can occur in various forms of communication, including text messaging, social media interactions, or online dating platforms. It’s considered as a form of emotional abuse and is an unfair and manipulative dating tactic, as it can leave the other person feeling confused, insecure, and emotionally exhausted.
7 Signs of Breadcrumbing
- They’re inconsistent – they’re hot and cold with their communication. They may initiate contact sporadically, with long periods of silence in between. Or maybe they send occasional text messages, but they rarely initiate deeper conversations or make consistent efforts to keep the communication going.
- They put in minimal effort – the person may put in minimal effort when it comes to planning dates or spending time together. They might cancel plans at the last minute or make excuses for not being able to meet up.
- Their actions don’t match their words – breadcrumbers often send mixed signals, giving you just enough attention or affection to keep you interested, but not enough to build a meaningful connection. They may engage in flirtatious behaviour or make promises they don’t follow through on.
- There’s a lack of commitment – the person may express interest in a future together or talk about plans but fail to take any concrete steps towards making them happen. They may avoid discussions about commitment or use vague language when talking about the relationship.
- They explore other options – breadcrumbers may keep their options open by actively pursuing other romantic interests or maintaining a presence on dating apps or social media platforms. They may give you the impression that you’re not their top priority or that they are always looking for someone better.
- They string you along – breadcrumbing often involves stringing the other person along, keeping them hooked with intermittent attention or promises of a potential future. They may make you feel like there is hope for a deeper connection, but their actions don’t align with their words.
- They lack accountability – breadcrumbers tend to avoid taking responsibility for their behaviour. They may deflect questions about their intentions, make excuses for their inconsistent actions, or place the blame on external factors. On top of a lack of accountability, they also make you feel like it’s your fault.
How to Cope with Breadcrumbing
1. Look for Patterns
If you have a feeling you’re being breadcrumbed, look out for patterns. Recognizing the behaviour can help you detach emotionally and see the situation more objectively. Once you acknowledge that you’re being breadcrumbed, you can start to deal with it and understand that it’s not your fault.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
Establish clear boundaries for yourself and communicate them to the person breadcrumbing you. Let them know what you expect from a relationship and how their behaviour is affecting you. Be assertive and firm in your needs and expectations. If they’re not willing to change their behaviour, it’s probably time to move on from them.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Focus on self-care and prioritize your well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, spend time with supportive friends and family, and practice self-reflection and self-compassion. Always remember that your worth is not determined by someone else’s attention or actions.
4. Have Open Communication
Breadcrumbers aren’t always aware of what they’re doing. If you are starting to have strong feelings for them, have a direct and honest conversation with the person breadcrumbing you. Express how their behavior makes you feel and let them know you’re not getting what you need out of the relationship. Be clear about what you expect, but be prepared for the possibility that they may not be willing or able to provide the answers or commitment you’re looking for.
5. Stop Making Excuses
Avoid making excuses for the breadcrumber’s behaviour or blaming yourself. Breadcrumbing is a reflection of their actions and choices, not your worth or desirability. Remind yourself that you deserve genuine care and commitment in a relationship.
6. Limit Contact or Cut Ties
If the breadcrumbing continues despite your efforts to address it, you may need to limit contact or consider ending the connection altogether. It can be challenging to let go, but you should be focusing your energy on someone who genuinely values you and reciprocates your efforts. It will be worth it and is much healthier in the long run.
If you think you’re dealing with breadcrumbing, we hope these tips help you deal with the situation and come out of it stronger!
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