Breadcrumbing, as I see it as a psychologist, is giving just enough signals through direct or indirect communication to an individual or group of individuals, to keep them sexually or romantically attentive and interested in you, without any overt desire to commitment or structures of any kind.
As they say, feed them just enough to keep them hungry. The hope of happiness is excited by this kind of behaviour; however, by the very nature of the behaviour this term describes, the happiness of the real romantic kind, in this context, stays elusive. Breadcrumbers may not all be intentionally evil people, we have to remember this, before we run with this newly coined term, with even a fresher dose of cynicism that is so readily fostered in our online/offline lives.
New term for old practice
Breadcrumbing is a new term, expressing an age-old practice and behaviour of countless human beings across cultures. We all like to test the products before we actually saddle ourselves with one in the human market that we find ourselves in. It is easier, yet more befuddling today than it has ever been, with the plethora of choices, all of which create and intensify the illusion that there is always someone better out there for us. This makes it harder to live in the real world, where commitments are required.
Related reading: Ever heard of Phubbing? It can kill your romantic relationship
A lot of us, and I mean most of us who are dating today and use technology, have fallen prey to breadcrumbing and being breadcrumbed. We are not evil and bad individuals, we just lack the proper skills and the philosophical frameworks required, to navigate the streets of our virtual and real lives without losing ourselves or leading others on.
What are the warning signs that someone is breadcrumbing you?
You know that you are being breadcrumbed when, even after a considerable period of time and possibly a date or two, the person waltzes in and out of your real and virtual life entirely on their own terms and resists any credible explanation. They might not think it is even required, as they don’t like talking about ‘these things’.
What motivates someone to do this?
Breadcrumbers, just like anyone else, are motivated by the desire to find the ‘best’ mate possible. This desire is fuelled by the illusion there are ‘enough and better people’ to choose from. They are not necessarily taking the time to get to know you on a regular basis in order to figure out if real-life commitment is to be made.
Or they could very well be addicted to the sexual, romantic attention they get from you or others without really investing in the relationship in any real way.
How should you react and protect yourself when someone does this to you?
Open and assertive communication about your feelings and expectations with people can help nip breadcrumbing in the bud. Being afraid, asking ‘how will I come across if I express myself?’ may provide a fertile ground for the practice which survives on a lack of communication. Stating what you what may actually get you the very thing, or at least save your time and pain and get you out of what you certainly do not want.