4 Signs Your Ex Is Breadcrumbing You – How to Respond to Breadcrumbs

It is so easy to fall for breadcrumbs and not even realize your ex is breadcrumbing you. They give you little prices of hope here and there but there Is really interest or plan to get back together.

If you don’t know what breadcrumbing is, it is when your ex shows just enough interest to keep you hoping that you will get back together at some point; but not enough real interest to show they are interested in getting back together. It feels like you are more than friends but not really friends?

According to Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino, breadcrumbing:

“is leading someone on romantically using online or electronic forums (think: social media or texting) to keep someone’s interest in you, even if you never intend to become romantically involved with them.”

Breadcrumbing psychology:

According to Campbell, people engage in breadcrumbing “because their self-esteem is impacted by how much attention they can secure from others.” Although the exact reasons for the behavior vary, there are a few psychological patterns she points to as to why people do it.

  • They feel better about themselves – The more interest from others they maintain, the better they feel about themselves.
  • They need validation from others – They don’t feel comfortable or confident unless they get constant reassurance from others that they are worthy or valuable.
  • They’re narcissistic – Often, these individuals have a personality characterized by narcissism as well as a game-playing, shallow approach to relationships. They don’t feel guilty about manipulating others and playing with people’s emotions.
  • They’re already in a relationship – Another reason this can happen is that they are already in a relationship with someone yet are still seeking attention from others.

Here are 4 Signs your ex is breadcrumbing you:

1. 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.

2. They keep things vague

Your ex is breadcrumbing you is you are never know where you stand with them. It’s not just the mixed messages, it is also the inconsistent expression of interest in you. They show interest in you but in measured little doses, just enough to keep you thinking they are interested. One day they are affectionate and the next they are so cold and distant. Some exes seem angry all the time when you talk to them.

3. 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. Some exes breadcrumbing even get angry that you are pointing out something obvious. Others stop responding or disappear for a few days or weeks.

4. 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.

What do you do if you are getting breadcrumbs?

It is not easy to tell if your ex is just being cautious and testing the waters before they come back; or if they are breadcrumbing you. But doing the following will flash out an ex who is breadcrumbing you and someone who just wants to take things slow.

1. Communicate assertively. If you are asking them to see you, don’t be so timid about it because people sense when you are insecure about a connection. Watch the video below to see what assertive request sounds like.

2. Don’t do any more than they are doing. Someone who is just testing the waters will realize that if they hope to get back together, they need to do more to motivate you to do more. Someone who is breadcrumbing you, will slowly fade away because there is no more incentive for the to breadcrumb you.

3. Focus on you more than you pay them attention.

Taking care of your own well-being is an important step in boosting your self-esteem, according to Campbell. “You set the example for how others should treat you, so don’t tolerate poor treatment,” she explains. “You deserve someone who is willing to give you the same amount of attention you are willing to invest.”


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