There comes a point for many people trying to attract back their ex where they ask themselves, “Is my ex breadcrumbing me?” and “how do I know if my ex is breadcrumbing me or taking it slow”. If you’re trying to attract back an avoidant ex, that point comes sooner and more often than you’d like. The 12 signs in this article will shed more light on if your ex is breadcrumbing you or taking things slow, and how to respond to breadcrumbing and minimum effort from an avoidant ex.
First things first, what is breadcrumbing? Breadcrumbing is when someone gives you the bare minimum time, effort, attention, affection, consideration, respect etc.; anything that make you feel that your ex hasn’t completely disappeared out of your life but they aren’t exactly there either.
Why do exes breadcrumb you?
There are many reasons why exes breadcrumb you and they include:
1) To make themselves feel better – They’re feeling rejected and/or abandoned and any response from you makes them feel less rejected or abandoned. Even exes who know and understand that their is no chance that you’ll get back together may still breadcrumb you to make themselves feel good.
2) They’re not ready to let you go – Sometimes people end a relationship then regret it, second guess their decision or as in the case of a fearful avoidant are scared of the very thing they want the most. They’re unsure about what they want and breadcrumb you to buy themselves time until they’re sure of what they want. Basically using you to get over you.
3) Emotional manipulation – An ex may breadcrumb you with the expectation that it’ll “spark curiosity” in you and make you want to reach out or keep hanging on to the breadcrumbs. The assumption of this manipulative tactic is that if they give you breadcrumbs you’ll keep coming back for more. In a way they hold power over you an dover the situation.
4) Narcissistic behaviour – Pure and simple.
Whatever the reasons for an ex breadcrumbing you, emotional breadcrumbs are frustrating and insulting, yet it’s so easy to fall for breadcrumbs and not even realize your ex is breadcrumbing you.
Here are 12 common signs your ex is breadcrumbing you
Before I give you the common signs your ex is breadcrumbing you, I need to point out that:
- Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an ex is taking things slow, just being cautious and testing the waters before they come back or if they are breadcrumbing you.
- When you have an anxious attachment style or even a fearful avoidant attachment style leaning anxious, you need more time, attention, affection, validation and reassurance than most avoidants and even securely attached, and sometimes whatever effort your ex is making feels like minimum effort or breadcrumbs.
- Some avoidant behaviours seem like breadcrumbing but are an avoidant not feeling safe. They may still have feelings for you but feel that they need to protect themselves. The big difference between an avoidant ex breadcrumbing you and an avoidant not feeling safe is the incremental effort an avoidant ex makes to show you they still have feelings for you and want to get back together, at some point. Keyword here is “incremental effort”.
Keep these things in mind when going through these common signs your ex is breadcrumbing you.
1. They keep things vague
Your ex breadcrumbing you after break-up looks like you’re making progress because your ex sometimes acts like they still have feelings and doesn’t want to let you go but things never move forward beyond a certain point and it’s not clear where you stand with them.
2. Contact is sporadic, barely there
If you are honest with yourself, there is really no contact. Someone sending you a text every two weeks or month is not interesting in getting back together. The breadcrumbs of contact are just to make you think and hope that maybe there is something there.
3. They’re so inconsistent it’s confusing
It’s not just the mixed messages, it is also the inconsistent expression of interest or affection. One day they’re giving you the love and attention you deserve, and even flirting with you and the next day, it’s back to ignoring you.
4. Conversations are polite and superficial
They talk about mostly practical or day to day stuff and when you ask if you are bothering them or something, they act like they don’t know what you’re talking about. Sometimes they even make you wonder if maybe you’re just overreacting.
5. They don’t make effort to be friends
They say they want to be friends but you’re the only one doing all the work to maintain the friendship. They make to attempts or effort to reach out, see you or even wish you a happy birthday or holidays.
6. They avoid meeting you face-to-face
Your ex is breadcrumbing you if they they seem fine with texting, and emailing and even talking on the phone; but make no plans to meet. They always seem too busy for you when you ask to meet and cancel plans to meet or don’t show up.
7. They never ask you out
They respond to texts messages, will talk on the phone and every once in a while when you ask to meet, they actually show up, but they never take the initiative to ask you out
8. They never engage you directly
They watch your Instagram, react to your stories and even leave comments on your social media or send memes and GIFs but NEVER engage you directly or respond to text messages. When they do, it’s mostly memes, emojis or some random stock photo off the internet.
9. They keep making promises but never fulfill them
They really convince you that this time they will follow through; but they never do. When you call them out on it, they make it seem like it’s your problem and not theirs.
10. They only show interest when you ignore them
They ignore you most of the time but as soon as you stop reaching out or look like you’re moving on, they text you out of the blue and even text you several times but then just ignore you again.
11. They get angry when you call them out
Some exes who are breadcrumbing get angry when you point out something obvious. They stop responding or disappear for a few days or weeks, then reach out like nothing happened.
12. They give you false hope
They show interest in you but in measured little doses, just enough to keep you hoping that you will get back together at some point but not enough effort to actually get back together. Months later you look back and see that you wasted so much time on something that was going nowhere to begin with, and the signs were all there.
How do you respond to breadcrumbing ex?
As I said above, sometimes it’s hard to tell if an ex is taking things slow, just being cautious and testing the waters before they come back, is an avoidant ex who just feels unsafe or if they are breadcrumbing you. But doing the following will flash out an ex who is breadcrumbing you, help you see things more clearly and hopefully make progress towards getting back together.
1. Don’t ignore your ex breadcrumbing you
You should not ignore an ex breadcrumbing you or rationalize it. I’ve worked with some clients who say they know their ex doesn’t want to get back together but they’d rather live with the breadcrumbs than risk not ever hearing from their ex again. The irony is that sometimes exes breadcrumb you because they know that you’re afraid of losing them and will take breadcrumbs than risk losing them.
If your ex’s actions make you confused, frustrated and insulted, you’re risking more than not ever hearing from them again, you are risking your own mental healthy and also risking your dignity. So don’t just ignore breadcrumbs or accept them as normal. They’re not normal or healthy.
Breadcrumbers sense when you are insecure about a connection and feel that they can get away with minimal effort, to flash out a breadcrumber, communicate your needs in an assertive, respectful, unthreatening, nonaggressive or nonviolent way. An ex who is breadcrumbing you will slowly fade away because there is no more incentive (fear of losing them) for breadcrumb you. Watch the video below to see what assertive request sounds like.
2. Don’t do any more than they are doing
The nature of breadcrumbs is that the other person drops little bits of attention, affection etc. here and there and you keep following the breadcrumbs until they dry up. This is leading someone on whether the breadcrumber is aware that this is what they’re doing or not. Most people being breadcrumbed compensate for the breadcrumbs by doing more and more to try to keep the breadcrumbs coming. Why would your ex make any more effort when you are making the effort for both of you?
To make sure that your ex is not breadcrumbing you just to lead you on, don’t do any more than they’re doing. Because of the fact that you’re the one trying to get them back, you may not achieve a 50-50 balance, and even a 70-30 ratio is not bad. But if things are tilting 90-10 in their favour and have been this way for a very long without any signs of changing stop doing more. An ex who is taking it slow, just testing the waters or an avoidant ex who just feels unsafe will realize that if they hope to get back together, they need to do more to motivate you to do more. An ex who is breadcrumbing you, will realize that they can no longer get away with breadcrumbing you and fade away.
3. Focus on you more than you focus on them
One of the reasons exes don’t put in as much effort to trying to get back together is because they started seeing someone else after the break-up but they’re also not ready to let you go. Maybe you went no contact and they thought they’d never hear from you again, maybe they got angry because you ignored them and started dating someone else, or maybe they tried to get over you but can’t, and now find themselves in this situation where they have someone new but still have feelings for you. If you’re okay with what seems like your ex is breadcrumbing you, that’s up to you. Just make sure 1) this is what you want for yourself, 2) you’re realistic about your chances and more importantly, 3) are taking care of yourself. Set the example for how others should treat you, and give yourself the same amount of attention and affection you’re willing to invest in your ex.
An ex who values you will see that you deserve better and will either step up and treat you how you deserve to be treated or let you go and find someone who’ll treat you how you deserve to be treated. An ex who is breadcrumbing you will lose their hold over you because you value yourself enough not to accept breadcrumbs.
When you deeply believe that you deserve better, you hold the power over the situation even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.