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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    Coping With Breadcrumbing: Learning to Let Go and Move On

    We've all had moments when we felt an unrestrained level of emotion, either happy or sad. However, feeling suspended in a state of confusion, hopelessness and desperation is something entirely different. It might feel like you've taken one step forward and two steps back in life and that no matter what you do, it doesn't seem to make any difference.

    Welcome to the world of breadcrumbing--a relationship pattern known for its perplexity, drive-by compliments and text message dashes of hope here and there that never amounts to anything real. You know the feeling – the kind you get when someone says ‘one day' but they know they can never fulfill those promises. Breadcrumbing is a term used to describe when someone you're interested in gives you just enough attention to keep you interested but not enough to make you feel secure in the relationship.

    If you or someone you know has been supplying breadcrumbs in relationships, it can be mighty hard to break away from this toxic dynamic. Like some kind of curse, breadcrumbing often leaves feelings of despair and self-doubt that makes it difficult to trust in people afterwards. There are however few things to take into consideration when trying to cope with breadcrumbing relationships:

    1. Recognize the Signs: Many get caught up in this toxic cycle without even recognizing it's happening due to the burst of compliments, affirmations, and reassurance that can accompany breadcrumbing patterns. Recognizing when someone is breadcrumbing takes practice so observe the relationship and how your partner interacts with you over time. If somebody gives you temporary highs but never seems willing to follow through on their word, then it's likely you're on the receiving end of breadcrumbing.

    2. Take Time to Heal: Once you recognize that your partner is breadcrumbing you, it's time to take a step back and take time to heal. This means setting boundaries and taking time for yourself—that includes no communication or communication that is strictly goal-oriented (such as career or economic related conversations). Unfollow them on social media, mute their messages and don't respond until you've had enough time to process the hurt which accompanied the dynamics of breadcrumbing. 

    3. Exercise Self-Compassion: Develop compassion towards yourself and speak kindly about your situation. By acknowledging your current dynamic, without giving it power, you can shift your mindset from pain to acceptance and eventually peace. Even if you believe there was something you could have done differently, focus on how your experience has entertained growth and shaped your understanding about relationships.

    4. Rebuild Your Confidence: Believe in yourself again by talking to others and engaging in activities that rebuild lost confidence. Get back into things that make you feel like yourself again and give yourself space when needed. Make it a priority to look after yourself by incorporating self-care practices such as yoga, walks or painting into your daily routine. Partake in activities that fuel your passions and allow you to have a sense of control over your life again.

    5. Stop Playing the Game: The last but definitively important step is deciding whether or not to stay in the relationship or let go. If the thought of being with them even still makes your heart flutter a little bit, it's ok to take some time to make a decision - as long as it remains a choice under conscious and informed control.

    Remember that as soon as you start noticing red flags, it's time to start prioritizing yourself first. Learning to be aware of subtle terms such as ‘one day' and practicing discernment can help prevent further confusion in the long run and decreases the chances of the same cycle repeating itself in other relationships.

    Accepting who somebody is helps us gain clarity of our current situation. Allowing ourselves to trust our gut reactions helps us identify patterns of manipulation and then move past them while also redirecting our attention towards more fulfilling relationships.

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