How To Respond To Breadcrumbing Without Losing Your Dignity

Photo: Getty
woman on her phone
Heartbreak

If you've ever experienced ghosting firsthand, you know how upsetting it can be to suddenly get cut out of someone's life and lose that connection. You'd think that there couldn't be anything worse — and then comes breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing allows people to lead you into thinking they want a relationship, even when there's no real chance of one happening.

And because it requires stringing you along instead of giving you a clean break, breadcrumbing can actually be more emotionally devastating.

It's important to recognize when this painful dating trend is happening and learn how to respond to breadcrumbing before your heart gets broken.

RELATED: 5 Heartbreaking Signs The Guy You Love Doesn't Care About You

Once you've been involved with a breadcrumber, you'll begin to recognize the signs.

They'll string you along, sending just the right amount of texts or social media messages to keep you interested, but they'll frequently quit interacting with you — especially when it's time to meet in person or to try and go on a date.

If you do ever meet, they'll likely be flirty and even clearly interested in sex — but then you won't hear from them again for days or even weeks. And just when you think they’ve ghosted, you’ll receive a flirty text to keep you coming back for more.

They have no interest in actually pursuing a relationship with you or putting in real effort.

For example, they might text you, “Hey cutie, how’s your week going?” and engage in a brief conversation that ends up going nowhere. You might not hear from them again until the following week when they send you another flirty text leading into a dead-end conversation on their part.

They might even make it sound like they want to see you. If you’re getting texts like “We should hang out sometime,” or “I’ll take you there sometime,” but "sometime" never seems to be determined, you're likely being breadcrumbed, and it will never happen.

How to respond to breadcrumbing

Having someone play with your emotions is obviously never fun and feels terrible. Regardless of how annoyed you are, there are tactful ways to deal with this scenario.

RELATED: If He Does These 8 Things, He's Love Bombing You And You Need To Leave ASAP

1. Acknowledge when it's happening.

It’s easy to tell yourself what you want to hear If you’re really interested in someone. However, this will only lead to heartbreak and a significant waste of time. If something feels off, it probably is.

Pay attention to how frequently they text you, how the conversation goes, and if they're always bailing on you.

Someone with good intentions will take the time to see you and while they may not text you every day, they will text you consistently enough to know they like you.

If they're always texting you late at night, ignore them. Then, the next day, try and pursue a regular conversation. If they don't respond and instead keep only trying to contact you on their terms (aka during booty call hours), that's breadcrumbing.

2. Be direct about what you're looking for.

One of the best ways to avoid getting breadcrumbed is to be honest with what you're looking for in a relationship.

If you're on the hunt for something more serious, don’t be afraid to express that! Let your own intentions be known — especially if you feel like they may not align with theirs. There's nothing wrong with making sure that you’re on the same page.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

If they acknowledge your needs and then continue stringing you along despite this, then you're dealing with a breadcrumber.

And if your honesty scares them away, they probably weren't mature enough to be in a serious relationship to begin with and you’ve clearly dodged a bullet.

3. Call them out.

If you tell them your intentions and they claim to be looking for the same things, explain to them why their behavior makes it seem like that's not the case.

Call them out on what they're doing and tell them that unless they want to make actual concrete plans, they can delete your number.

They probably won't be expecting this, and while it might not work out between the two of you, it might make them think twice before torturing someone else in the same way.

4. Leave them "on read."

I usually would never advise anyone to ghost another person, but this scenario is a little different. Sometimes the best revenge is saying nothing at all and just leaving their breadcrumb messages on read.

People who breadcrumb others are only looking for one thing: attention. By cutting off the attention source, you’ll be ending the cycle. This will allow you to move on to someone who is mature and has clear intentions.

A breadcrumber won't want to pursue any in-depth questions about why you stopped talking to them, and will probably let the matter drop within a few minutes and move on to their next target — until they want to try again in a few days or a week to see if you're available then.

5. Remove them from your social media accounts.

When you stop responding to someone who's attempting to breadcrumb you, they might turn to social media to keep the ball rolling. This could mean that instead of texting you, they respond to your Instagram story or leave flirty comments on your pics.

Deleting them from social media will not only eliminate any communication methods but will also show them that you’re not here for their little game. This will make them feel like the immature loser they're making themselves out to be.

You’ll hurt their ego and make it easier to move on to better things. Once they realize you're not a viable target, they'll look for someone who is.

6. Learn how to avoid breadcrumbers in the future.

This is probably the most important thing to keep yourself safe from breadcrumbers. Once you've been through this awful scenario, it's easy to recognize the signs of it happening again.

It is so important to trust your intuition when it tells you another person is trying to breadcrumb you; it'll keep you from getting emotionally entangled with another immature person when you're looking for a relationship.

Breadcrumbing is just as bad if not worse than being ghosting because they continue to give you a glimmer of hope each time. Take this opportunity to learn what red flags to look for and understand how to read someone’s intentions.

Only pursue potential partners that match your energy and make concrete plans to see you. You deserve to be with someone who's going to put in an equal amount of effort!

Lastly, always remember that if someone breadcrumbs you, there's something wrong with them, not you.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why Men Ghost Women (& What To Do When It Happens To You)

Lindsey Matthews is a writer who covers love and relationships, news, and pop-culture topics.