What Does Breadcrumbing Mean And Why Is It So Mentally Taxing?

What's definition of breadcrumbing and what are the emotional effects on those involved? 07.07.24

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What Does Breadcrumbing Mean?

Everyone's been subjected to this type of torture at some point in their life. We've all fallen head over heels for someone only to be strung along, fed tiny bits of hope, and then to our own terrible advice, stuck around much longer than we'd ever expected. This is the essence of breadcrumbing.

Breadcrumbing is a type of manipulation, where someone has no real intention of being together, yet they love getting attention, so they keep you around by sending you little texts or occasionally hooking up, only to disappear once again. It's just enough attention to keep the hope of a relationship alive, without actually having to commit. It's frustrating, draining, and pretty damn annoying, oftentimes leaving you very confused as to what's going on.

It’s Not Always Intentional So Why Do People Do It?

As terrible as it is, it’s not always intentional. Some people aren’t in touch with their emotions enough, and can't understand that they're doing it. It can become an unbeknownst habit or cycle. So then why are they acting this way?

If someone is insecure about themselves or their current situation, they might use breadcrumbing as a coping mechanism to prove they are worth wanting. Or if someone is lonely but doesn't necessarily want a relationship, they might lead you on to stay as a way to stay entertained. Or they might be using you as a backup plan. They have a more serious relationship, but lately it's been on the rocks, so just in case it goes fully South they'll have you as the fallback. Some people can't be alone, they constantly need the relationship. So a backup is a must have. At the end of the day it's easy to forget, but people are generally selfish.

Just because there wasn't malicious intent involved, doesn't mean you should be subjected to it.

sad girl in bed texting at night

Why It’s So Hard To Just Walk Away

That tiny little bit of hope is all it takes. When you truly love someone, a text message can mean the world. Just showing that they were willing to take the time out of their day to write you can mean the world. Your heart plummeting into your stomach every time your phone pings with a new text. And then finally it's them. Your heart swells with elation putting you back on cloud nine. It becomes an addiction. The dopamine and seratonin you get from any interaction with that person. The cycle starts again.

We all rely on hope. It's at it's core the reason we strive to keep moving forward. Whether it's hope to fulfill a dream of yours, hope to find a real love, hope to become rich, to travel and see more of the world, whatever it might be hope is the foundation for our motivation in life. And when you're in a situation where you're being thrown crumbs, it's not hard to start to glorify the idea of the relationship in your head. It might be the only prospect for love that you have right now, so you don't want to just let it go. You yourself don't have any other options. While the person breadcrumbing is the opposite, they have multiple options and are throwing crumbs to everyone.

"I was just getting over you, finally ready to move on, and then you sucked me right back in..."

It's like after you break up with someone, you only remember the good times. All the toxic situations you somehow manage to forget. You finally get back with the person only to realize the problems were never fixed and we're right back to square one. The ideal relationship always lives inside our minds, and we can easily trick ourselves into believing it's this. We become fixated on it and use it to help us cope with our own shortcomings.

Online Dating Has Made It More Prevalent

Now with online connections it’s easier to just throw a text message every so often. People love to have options. And because online dating is less formal and more casual it's easier to throw tiny crumbs. To be just an option is the worst feeling in the world. Everyone wants to feel chosen and seen for who they are, everyone wants true love. But backups are a thing, and if you are being subjected to breadcrumbing, then chances are you are the backup.

breadcrumbs sitting on a countertop

How To Identify Breadcrumbing

It’s always the one’s who never text or call until they actually need something from you. Whether it’s a favor or simply just some reassurance and ego-inflation. Maybe they got burned by a date recently and know that you still are very interested, so they seek your attention to fill that void that was left by the misconnect. They invite you out, slip you a kiss, get flirty and then give you crickets for two weeks. They always have a basket of excuses ready to go. "I was busy with work" - "Sorry I've been meaning to write you back" - "My dog's been super sick."

guy in dark texting on his phone

Mentally It’s Toxic

You have to protect yourself and your feelings. It’s easy to start to feel inadequate because someone is stringing you along. You may experience extreme highs from when they engage with you and then bottom lows when they disappear again. You sit by your phone patiently waiting for that text reply that never comes. Your confidence levels start to sink because the person you are weighing them on is not reciprocating the effort you are putting forth.

You Deserve Better

We all deserve to be loved fully for who we are. Unfortunately we don't get to decide when that love will ultimately show up in our lives. So it's easy to manifest some idea of the perfect relationship in your head. And in the meantime, keep giving in to the crumbs of a prospective love. Learning to be alone and love yourself is the first step in finding a meaningful relationship. Because when you are confident in yourself, know yourself , and love yourself, you'll have the patience to wait for that real true love to come along.

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