Breadcrumbing: Knowing The Signs And How You Are Being Led on

Ghosting, love-bombing, cuffing, catfishing... In the world of contemporary dating, there is a lot happening to keep us on our toes. However, are you familiar with breadcrumbing? If you experience emotional ups and downs with a possible relationship or feel like you're on a breadcrumb trail, you may be a victim of breadcrumbing.

What is breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is a distinct way of leading someone on. In order to keep the other person engaged, the person communicates frequently enough (also known as "leaving breadcrumbs"), but not frequently enough to develop a true connection. They'll engage the other person just enough to give them a glimpse of what an honest relationship may be like, but they'll leave them wanting more. The phrase, which is also known as "Hansel and Greteling," comes from the notion of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for someone to follow in order to find what they're seeking for, much like in the children's fable. 

Signs of breadcrumbing

Their words don't reflect their actions

The expression "actions speak louder than words" is undoubtedly true in some situations. Breadcrumbing victims may become so focused on the positive things that the other person says to them that they fail to stand back and assess whether the individual's behaviors are consistent with their words. This is how breadcrumbers pique your attention without making a firm commitment.

They don't react consistently

Communication that is inconsistent is a typical breadcrumbing practice. For instance, there can be periods when they are incredibly receptive, followed by others when they seem to disappear. They are giving you just enough to keep you feeling interested, then going completely silent for long stretches to make you want to leave. When they suspect you could be leaving them, they restart paying attention until they feel you have returned.

They do not follow through promises

If and when you do manage to schedule something with someone who breadcrumbs, they're likely to change their mind, generally with a really excellent excuse. This can lead to a cycle where you build up expectations, are eager to spend time with the other person and advance your relationship, only to be left feeling absolutely disappointed.

They make spontaneous plans, generally involving sex

A lot of breadcrumbers like to make booty calls. When a bread crumber does start forming plans, it usually happens on the spur of the moment and is motivated by sex. During this time, they might even let down their guard and become more vulnerable with you, but this won't last. After the booty call, they return to their regular lives and stop communicating with you until they are prepared for the next hookup.

They are not very open about their lives

The secrecy of breadcrumbers' lives may give you the impression that they are concealing something. They might divulge a few insignificant details about their lives to pique your interest and make you feel a little bit closer, but they won't go as deep or be as forthcoming as you are.

Compared to you, they are less interested in you

Breadcrumbers won't waste their time sincerely attempting to get to know you because they have no interest in forging a real, long-lasting connection. Although they may come across as pleasant and seductive, they don't make an effort to get to know you better. You'll feel like you're chasing them and spending a lot of money to attempt to start a relationship, but they won't reciprocate on your end.

Why do they do it?

Although breadcrumbing may be done on purpose, other, less direct reasons may also be at work.

They like you but are unwilling to commit

Many people find the concept of commitment in a relationship to be too much for them to manage. They want to connect, but they don't have the drive or the capacity for sustained emotional investment. They maintain the relationship because they think you are attractive and they enjoy chatting to you. They pull back just enough to prevent things from moving further, but they aren't prepared to put in the effort to build a real connection.

They are not yet prepared to part ways

You can also get breadcrumbed by ex-partners. Despite your agreement to end the relationship, they continue to send you the occasional text or picture along with a "This made me think of you" or "Missed you today" statement. You may be confused by these conflicting cues, especially if you are still feeling some residual emotions. They might have a good intention, such as a sincere wish for friendship that they aren't sure how to express. Breadcrumbs from an ex, however, might occasionally also indicate an effort to keep control or reignite your interest, particularly if you ended the relationship.

They feel lonely

It could be simpler to maintain a few superficial connections for someone who struggles to connect with people and lacks healthy friendships and relationships. Perhaps they are aware of their difficulties in creating wholesome relationships but are unsure of how to resolve the situation effectively. Therefore, breadcrumbing can be used as a means of satisfying social demands. They scatter enough morsels so they always have someone to chat to, but they don't realize that fleeting connections do not necessarily make them feel as lonely as they expect.

How to React to Breadcrumbing

First of all, congrats on being sincere with yourself if you've acknowledged you have a breadcrumber on your hands. These kinds of circumstances can be challenging to accept, but by doing so and making the choice to take issues into your own hands, you'll stop wasting time on people who aren't deserving of you. Here are a few strategies for handling someone who is leading you on.

Change how you respond

It's time to change things up a bit if you often just follow their lead. If they text you at night, put your phone away and text them the next day to offer a meeting place. Determine the precise parameters of their relationship, such as limiting it to late-night, casual hookups. This allows you to test their resolve and determine whether they are open to change or if the situation is hopeless.

Tell them that it's not acceptable if they cancel on you

Let them know you won't take it lying down if they consistently make plans only to cancel them at the last minute with a weak justification. If they say they have a cold for the fourth time, tell them you've noticed and see how they react. Make it obvious that going forward, the initiative lies with them, and don't wait around for them to call. Make new plans and go on with your life.

Just accept it as it is

If your relationship is purely physical and you are absolutely fine with it, that is fantastic. Allow them to come to you, and savor your time with them. Enjoy it and adjust your expectations as necessary.

Tell them the truth

Ask them outright why they always break plans, never manage to keep them, text you at 3am, or refuse to assign a "label" to things. This may require you to be brave, but it won't be what they're anticipating. You might even have an open discussion about their actions as a result, which would save you a lot of time and heartache.

Say your goodbyes

If the way you're being treated is causing you anxiety or making you question your self-worth, it's time to say goodbye. Tell them why you're breaking your relationship with them and be forceful about it. Once you've made your decision, stick with it and focus on loving yourself and making room in your life for the relationship you deserve.