I have to be honest and say that until recently I hadn’t heard of the term ‘breadcrumbing’ but then I read about it in a psychotherapy magazine and realised that it’s probably more prevalent than I realised. There’s a lot of it around……..
Maybe you already knew about it but for those of you who, like me, it’s a new term, it’s defined as someone who leads you on by dropping little morsels of interest like an occasional message, social media interaction or a phone call, but then they don’t follow through on any of it. It doesn’t only happen in romantic situations though – it can be from your family, at work or when you’re out socially.
Basically though, it’s about expectations, disappointment and empty promises and can happen in lots of different situations; if it’s in a romantic sense, it’s along the lines of stringing someone along but not actually committing, in friendships where you’ve connected on social media but then find you’ve been ghosted, in families where there’s love, but it’s often conditional and is taken away sometimes and at work where opportunities are dangled but stay just out of reach.
Sounds familiar? If you’ve often experienced the roller coaster of hoping for something but that’s followed by doubting yourself (“is it because of me?” or “did I do something wrong?”), then you may well have been the victim of breadcrumbing.
You may have found that the breadcrumber shows you attention and interest when they want something from you, but then they go back to their old self-absorbed ways after getting what they want. If you’ve often waited for someone to call or text, to follow through on what they’ve hinted, but it never happens, then you’ve almost certainly been the victim of breadcrumbing.
So, how can you best deal with this, which is essentially about narcissism and manipulation? Here are a few things to look at:
- Be honest with yourself – by this I mean that although we may have convinced ourselves that someone likes us really, that they want us to thrive and be happy, ask yourself whether you really think they’re being honest (this applies in your personal life or at work). If the answer is ‘no’, it may be time to walk away. If it’s in the context of family, that’s not easy, but at the very least you can distance yourself, even if you can’t cut ties completely.
- This is a good time to start ignoring the game they’re playing – because it is a game really. If the person is really interested in you, whether at work or home, they’ll start making an effort with you as opposed to stringing you along.
- If you think it would be a better approach, you might try telling them how you feel – make a time to meet with them, explain how you feel, whether it’s about your feelings for them or for the job that you’re doing, and explain the effect that their behaviour is having on you.
- Remember that the breacrumber holds the attention and power and that it’s an unequal dynamic which isn’t helping you at all.
- Make sure that you don’t lose respect for yourself – remember that what they’re doing is not fair or acceptable, and by having confidence in yourself, you’re no longer participating in their game.
- Start focusing on other aspects of your life, and make sure that you direct your focus elsewhere whether that’s with new friends, new interests or studying so that you can move on to another, better job.
I hope that you’ve found this interesting – let me know if you have any thoughts on it.
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