The dating world can often feel like a minefield of expectations and rules. Ever found yourself ready to call off a situationship just to jump the second that they message?
Or have you taken their DMs to the group chat to break down if they’re really interested because their messages don’t feel clear enough?
This can be confusing and frustrating but what if it actually is a sign of a much bigger issue?Dr. Cortney Warren, psychologist and author of the new book, Letting Go of Your Ex: CBT Skills to Heal the Pain of a Breakup and Overcome Love Addiction, warns that you may be experiencing “breadcrumbing".
So, What is Breadcrumbing?
Breadcrumbing is when somebody gives you just enough attention to make you believe that they’re interested in you and in pursuing a romantic relationship but in reality, they’re not actually looking for anything more serious.
Dr Cortney S.Warren warns that over time, the person being breadcrumbed is “likely to feel confused and distressed” and are in a dynamic which “breeds self-doubt, insecurity on where they stand – but also hope for a relationship that the breadcrumber has no intention of actually pursuing”.
Are You Being Breadcrumbed?
Realising that you may have been a victim of this won’t be comfortable but it may give you the closure that your breadcrumber never will! We asked Dr Warren for some of the signs and patterns of breadcrumbing for people to watch out for:
- Sending short text message responses without meaningful communication (for example, a one-word response or emoji).
- Providing non-committal responses to attempts to make plans (for example, saying they “think that sounds good” or “want to see you next week” but never commit to a date or time).
- Never introducing you to their friends or family.
- Inconsistently or erratically responding to your communication attempts (for example, they may respond to a text message in 5 minutes, 5 days, or never…!)
- Rarely asking you what you want or need from them.
- Cancelling plans last minute.
- Responding or making an effort only when it suits them and their needs.
… Does any of this sound familiar? If so, don’t blame yourself. Breadcrumbing is, in basic terms, a reward system. Each time your potential interest gives you attention or a hint at wanting more, the effect on you and your behaviour is that you will want to go back for more.
Think of it as being similar to playing on slot machines – maybe next time will be the time that you get what you’re hoping for.
What To Do If You’re Being Breadcrumbed?
Dr Cortney says that often, those who are breadcrumbing are looking only to fill their own ego. Meaning, the hard pill to swallow is that they won’t be changing their behaviour anytime soon and this cycle will just continue.
Though dating can feel like a minefield, clear communication doesn’t have to be. Instead of chasing the high of hearing from your breadcrumber, instead focus on investing your energy into people who tell you exactly what they are – and are not – looking for.