9 Signs Of Breadcrumbing + How To Deal With Someone Who Does It

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With all the terms used to describe modern dating, no one would blame you if you felt a little confused about what it all means, how you know if it’s happening to you, and how to deal with it.

Much as you might be a bit baffled by these terms, they’re really handy for putting your finger on a lot of the problems people experience when dating.

They sum up things that are becoming an epidemic in the world of modern dating.

Chances are they’ve either happened to you, or you’ve been guilty of doing them, but you haven’t had a term to describe them.

This article will focus on breadcrumbing: a dating tactic that’s used an awful lot these days since the advent of dating apps and websites.

What Is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is when you lead someone on romantically through social media or texting.

Think Hansel and Gretel being tempted onwards to their doom by the witch.

It basically means they’re stringing you along, but with the help of modern technology.

The breadcrumbs are the messages you send in order to keep someone interested in you, even if you don’t actually like them or have any romantic interest in them.

Some people might breadcrumb deliberately to keep you hanging on, but most people aren’t entirely conscious of their behavior.

They stick their head in the sand and convince themselves they’re not doing anything wrong.

Breadcrumbers are often those who struggle to be truly alone, so need to have someone there on ‘standby,’ to boost their ego whilst they wait for a genuine love interest to come along.

But whether people who breadcrumb are conscious of it or not, it’s still an emotionally manipulative dating tactic…

…and one that can cause a lot of hurt to the person who’s being led on, with no hope of a relationship actually materializing.

Signs Of Breadcrumbing

If you’re still unsure as to what breadcrumbing is or think it could be happening to you, here are some of the telltale signs that you’re being led on.

1. They blow hot and cold.

They don’t message you consistently.

You might be in contact a lot for a few days, and then a week or even longer can go by before they respond to you again.

They have an uncanny knack of messaging you just when you’ve finally started to forget about them and move on, meaning you go right back to square one.

2. Their messages are ambiguous.

They’re always noncommittal and don’t like to get specific.

They suggest you see each other ‘soon,’ but avoid making any set plans.

They always manage to phrase things in a way that gives you hope without committing themselves to anything.

3. There’s no substance to your communication.

You might have deeper conversations now and again, but their messages are normally fairly shallow and generic.

They don’t make any genuine effort to get to know you.

4. They throw breadcrumbs at you through different channels.

They don’t respond to your Whatsapp, but then they like your Instagram post, or you see they’ve watched your story.

That keeps them on your radar and prevents you from moving on or forgetting about them.

5. They don’t make you feel good about yourself.

When you get a message from them, it might make your heart race and give you that feeling of excitement, but it doesn’t make your heart glow.

Even if you feel good when they are actually texting you, that soon wears off and is replaced by worry about if you’ll hear from them again.

They only compliment you to get what they want from you, but don’t actually do anything to boost your self-esteem.

Talk to one of the experienced relationship experts from Relationship Hero if you think this person is breadcrumbing you and it’s making you feel bad about yourself.

6. They booty call you.

They might not spell it out, but if they’re texting you late at night rather than making proper plans with you, then they’re only after one thing.

They might even text you just to ‘see how you are’ without the intention of hooking up, but making sure that you’re lying awake at night thinking about them.

7. They make you feel like it’s your fault.

Although the problem is entirely theirs, it feels like it’s down to you.

Whenever they pick you up and drop you again, you can’t figure out what you did wrong, but it’s a big knock to your self-confidence.

8. They can’t commit to a date, let alone you.

They message you and vaguely suggest meeting up, but avoid making plans.

If you ask them what’s going on between you, they dodge the question or say they don’t want to put a label on things.

Whilst it’s perfectly valid not to put a label on things, if it’s combined with all the other behavior on this list, they probably just don’t want to commit to you.

9. They’re only interested in sex.

If, when you do manage to see them, things quickly get physical between you, that’s a bad sign.

If they avoid meeting you during the day or when there’s no chance of going back to your place afterwards, and you want more than that, then you need to be honest with yourself.

How To Respond To Breadcrumbing

First off, if you’ve realized you’ve got a breadcrumber on your hands, well done for being honest with yourself.

It can be difficult to accept situations like these, but doing so and deciding to take matters into your own hands means you won’t waste any more of your time on someone who isn’t worthy of you.

Here are a few tactics for dealing with some who’s stringing you along.

1. Suggest a date.

Suggest a date at a specific time and place, like coffee on Sunday afternoon.

Breadcrumbers are often keen to just keep things virtual so that they can get an ego boost when they need one and know you’re there if they want you.

If that’s all they want, they won’t accept your invite and should realize that you’re not content to let them control the situation.

2. Change the way you reply.

If you normally just follow their lead, then it’s time to mix things up a bit.

If they text you at night, turn off your phone and text them the next day suggesting you meet up.

Figure out exactly where they want the limits of the relationship to be, like just keeping it to late-night casual hookups.

That means you can push those limits and get clear on whether they’re willing to make any changes, or if it’s the end of the road.

3. If they cancel on you, let them know it’s not okay.

If they repeatedly make plans and then cancel them at the last minute with a lame excuse, let them know you’re not just going to take it lying down.

If they’ve said they’ve got a cold for the fourth time, let them know you’ve noticed, and see how they respond.

Make it clear that the ball is in their court in future, and don’t hang around waiting for them to call. Get on with your life and make other plans.

4. Accept it for what it is.

If things between you are just physical and you’re really and truly okay with that, then that’s brilliant.

Let them come to you and enjoy the time you spend with them. Adjust your expectations and have fun with it.

5. Tell them how it is.

Directly ask them why they always cancel plans, never manage to make them in the first place, text you at 3am, or refuse to put a ‘label’ on things.

This might mean you have to take a deep breath and be brave, but it definitely won’t be what they’re expecting.

It might even lead to an honest conversation about their behavior, and save you a lot of wasted time and heartache.

6. Say goodbye.

If you find that the way you’re being treated is taking its toll on you and making you anxious or question your self-worth, it’s time to say goodbye.

Let them know the reason why you’re cutting things off with them and be firm about it.

Once you’ve made the decision, stick to it, and turn your attention to loving yourself, and making space in your life for the relationship you deserve.

Still not sure what to do about someone who is breadcrumbing you? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.