Following the Breadcrumbs

Imagine the following scenarios:

  • The relationship ended and you said your goodbyes. You’re trying to move on, and then they send a text “just to check in.”
  • You went on a few dates, but nothing came of it. You stopped talking, except
  • for when they unexpectedly send you snapchats. They also routinely watch your Instagram stories.
  • You’re both interested, but nothing has happened yet. The only real contact you have is when they tag you in an occasional meme on Facebook or send a quick direct message on Instagram.

What do these situations have in common? They all involve some kind of breadcrumbing.

Defining breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing is putting forth small bits of effort to keep a love interest hooked without maintaining an actual relationship. Through sporadic DMs, short texts and occasional snapchats, they reappear just frequently enough that you can’t forget about them entirely.

How to deal with breadcrumbing

When breadcrumbs are thrown your way, you don’t need to pick them up and participate in the games. Here’s how to handle breadcrumbers:

Think about the intention. Are they actually interested in pursuing a relationship, or are you just a backup? Maybe they’re too shy to ask you out properly. Are they breadcrumbing just for attention and an ego boost? Knowing the purpose behind the breadcrumbs can help you decide how to proceed.

Look at how your relationship is progressing. Do they do anything to move the relationship forward, or do they only talk about an elusive “sometime?” If they don’t put forth real effort to spend time with you, they’re likely just breadcrumbing. Move on to someone who’s genuinely interested.

Don’t let them off the hook. It’s easy to tell yourself they’re “super busy” or they “forgot to reply,” but when you’re truly interested in someone, you’re never too busy or “forget” to reply. In a relationship, you should be treated as a priority — not an afterthought.

Decide how to respond and stick to it. With breadcrumbing, you can stop responding and see if they reach out more, or call them out on their games. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve from a partner or get out of a one-sided relationship. Moving on opens you up to meeting people who aren’t afraid to put in the work to push a relationship forward.

   -Shaye Mullen

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