Most of us have a natural and healthy human yearning for closeness. Humans are social creatures who thrive in loving relationships whether it is family or friends. But finding the person that you’d want to partner with for a lifetime can be very difficult. In fact, it is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s also a numbers game. You have to date a large number of people before connecting with Mr. or Ms. Right. That said, you will likely either be rejected, or have to reject others, multiple times over.
Dating is a minefield. I’ve learned a new vocabulary from my clients. You may be “ghosted” by someone who shows an initial interest in you, then disappears. You might find someone “orbits” you by repeated views of your dating profile or social media posts without actual contact. You might find a “submarine dater” who previously ghosted you but resurfaces weeks or months later. And an “ostrich” might block you if you don’t respond to them immediately. And then there is “breadcrumbing.”
Breadcrumbing is defined as “The act of sending out flirtatious, but noncommital text messages to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.” It is the conscious act of giving someone just enough attention to keep them from leaving, but not enough to feel satisfying or secure in the relationship. It might look like the following:
1. They send sporadic messages, but not consistently, so that you are wondering what’s going on.
2. The messages lack substance, and are timed just when they think you are drifting away.
3. The messages are vague and you never really know what they mean.
4. They just want to hook up without any commitment.
5. They are noncommital and you can’t get them to define how they perceive the relationship.
6. You feel anxiety wondering if they will contact you again.
7. You start to doubt yourself and wonder what you did wrong.
8. Your relationship feels passive-aggressive when you try to have open communication, resulting in argument.
It is hurtful and incredibly anxiety producing to be strung along by someone who is not really into you. If you are not interested in a long term partner, say so. Perhaps someone else is looking for mutual breadcrumbing. But be clear on this from the outset in order to protect someone else from emotional distress. If you are caught in the crumb trap, end the anxiety by not picking up the breadcrumb. Walk away, take a break while you repair your self-esteem, then get back in the ring.