Does this sounds familiar? You're talking to someone new and the vibe is definitely there. They text you regularly — not all the time but just enough to assure you that you’re on their mind. They like all your Insta posts, and yet... you haven’t actually spent any real time together. They’re showing you interest but, on the other hand, the relationship has stalled. They’re always too busy to make plans, but they do send sweet good night texts. Confusing, right? Well, homegirl, that's because you are being breadcrumbed. Before you can begin to know how to respond to breadcrumbing, you first need to know what it is and why they do it.
"Breadcrumbing is the conscious act of leading someone on for the thrill of the ego boost," explains relationship expert Susan Winter. "It's the 'hot' cycle in the game of hot and cold. Designed to lure in one's prey through attention, flattery and sexual intrigue, breadcrumbing is completely self-serving. It's a head trip, played for control and domination."
What makes breadcrumbing especially insidious is that it's basically social media gaslighting — which can make it tough to spot right away. It's important in these situations to trust your gut; if something feels off about your relationship, there probably is. And if they still send you "flowery emoji texts... but you haven't gone out or spoken on the phone to make a plan in over a week and a half, it's likely that your significant other is breadcrumbing you," says senior matchmaker and dating coach Lori Salkin.
Basically how it works is that the person uses social media, technology, or — in some cases — other friends to make sure they stay on your radar. They will flatter and pay a ton of attention to you on social media, but in every other way, they ghost. It sounds crazy but there’s a methodology to this crummy madness. "It's a modern-age technology version of stringing someone along just in case you want to leave the door open, even though that person has probably already moved onto the next girl or guy," says Salkin.
Well, that really sucks.
So, what should you do when you come to the conclusion that you’re dealing with breadcrumbs? Well, according to the experts you've got a few options.
1. Return The Favor
A breadcrumber (breadcrumb artist?) can only be successful if they are able to keep you in the dark or hanging on with hope for the future. But here's the thing: It doesn't have to stay that way since once you know what's happening you have all the power.
"Don’t try to force the other person to commit or treat you differently, if this is what they’re into," says relationship advice expert April Masini. "Instead, accept it, and make decisions about your own involvement."
So, do you enjoy the attention they are giving? Why not soak it up and let them stroke your ego while you start playing the field again?
"You can decide that because they’re not into a commitment, you too can keep them on the back burner while you explore the field and breadcrumb them back," Masini says.
In other words, so long as you are able to protect yourself from catching feelings, there's no harm in having a digital admirer.
2. Out-Ghost Them
You know the saying, "You cant play a player"? If they think they can half-ghost you, give them the full Casper act. Normally, it’s not really cool to ghost someone, but when you’re dealing with someone who is careless with your feelings just disappearing on them is totally fair game.
"Unfortunately it was not a real relationship and it was a very insincere person that you were dating that ‘breadcrumbed’ you," says Salkin. "A true gentleman or gentlewoman would end a relationship properly without first dragging it out in an insincere way." I totally agree.
3. Confront Them And Cut Them Loose
OK, if you insist we be adults about this, there’s always the option of an honest conversation and a definite ending. If it’s not something this person wants to address when you point out the behavior, it’s time to move on. But no matter how let down you are by them choosing to essentially lead you on, "avoid the instinct to want to punish them," says Masini. Instead, "focus on clarity and your own choices when disappointed in someone else’s behavior."
And no matter what, never settle for crumbs. You deserve better!
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