Jump to content

Just say NO to breadcrumbs!

Recommended Posts

It breaks my heart how many people on here (as I did in the recent past) can get so confused over breadcrumbs from their ex.


The ex, who has broken up with us, told us to move on with our lives as they are moving on with theirs - isn't there for us any more. Even if they say they will be, and it is somewhat comforting to hear at the time, they can't be. We can't allow them to be. Because the truth and fact of the matter is that they are our ex and we can no longer turn to them for love and support. We can't be friends with them because they are our ex. Maybe in the future, but for now, they are the ex and until we put the relationship behind us, they remain our ex. Friendships cannot exist when they are still your ex where you have not moved on.


And yet......at some point, a lot, if not most, ping us with a message....also known as a breadcrumb. The message that they thought of us. That they are missing us. Just to say "hi." To ask how we are. To wish us happy bday. What does that do to us as we are working so very hard to adjust to the loss of them in our lives and move on? We are, all of a sudden, confused by the message. Instead of just seeing the message for what it says (e.g. Hi, miss you, thinking of you or wishes of a happy bday, etc) we start looking for hidden meanings. We are so hungry for their attention like a hit off a cigarette when you have just quit smoking or chocolate when you have just started a diet, that we start reading more into the message than what the message simply says.


These messages are the dreaded breadcrumbs. We are so hungry, while we want the loaf of bread, we settle for the breadcrumbs. We pause our healing to gobble them up and then wait in anticipation for more because we are delusional to believe that one breadcrumb will lead to more and more will lead to the whole loaf of bread. The fact is, 99% of the time, it is only a breadcrumb and nothing more. I don't truly believe that they intend to be selfish or malicious in offering them to us. They are in a different place than we are and they don't understand how detrimental it is to us when they send us the message. They are sharing that we are in their thoughts. As an aside, for those of us who tend to fear that they will forget you - they won't and they don't. Some of us get breadcrumbs as confirmation of that.


What we have to do for ourselves is say NO to breadcrumbs. If you get them, recognize it for what it is. Feel comfort in that you were not forgotten but do not stop moving forward with your life. Do not pause and question whether or not it means more. It doesn't. The message means only what the message says and nothing more. We want to believe it means more. We hunger for those messages - but we learn over time that they are more detrimental than helpful regardless of our being desirous of them.

Link to comment

I hear you CAD, but I have to believe it is more subconscious than conscious. That is my hope anyways. They just don't have the perspective that we do on the other side of the breakup. They may even think that they are being nice or friendly, without realizing how detrimental that they can be. It looks selfish to us when we are hurting and have the realization that it is not an offer of reconciliation. But that is where we are coming from having been the one left behind. Each have their perspectives and perceptions which are their reality from where they stand. Yes, if the person is a real cad, then I am in 100% agreement. Hopefully this is more the exception than the rule.

Link to comment

2 weeks ago I received a "breadcrumb" from the ex. An email telling me I look gorgeous in my new profile pic and my new hair really suits me. I must have reread the email about 100 times and have thought about it non stop since. What does it mean? Does it mean he's thinking of me? Now he's seen that will he want to be with me again? Why was he looking at my profile? What feelings has the photo stirred up inside him? Now, 2 weeks later and no word since, it's become apparent - it meant absolutely nothing. It meant what it said, he thought I looked nice and wanted to tell me. He didn't break up with me because he didn't like my old haircut! Nothing has changed, life remains the same, he is gone forever and won't ever change his mind. The email gave me a boost for 5 minutes and now the low afterwards. Why did he have to send it.

I gave out my own breadcrumbs after ending a very long relationship. I would send the "hope you are ok" texts when either I felt lonely and lost myself and wanted some contact, or when I wanted reassurance he was ok - then he would tell me he still wasn't OK and I'd feel even more terrible. I should have respected his wishes and left him alone, I'm sure I got his hopes up every time I sent those messages. But not at any point was I thinking "I want to get back together" when I sent those. The guilt I felt at breaking someones heart was absolutely awful, I wished it was my heart broken instead. I would make contact as I thought it made what I had done better...it didn't, I realise now.

Link to comment

Breadcrumbs are very confusing, and I think they demonstrate the ex's (most likely subconscious) confusion as well. A couple of the breadcrumbs I received took the form of cards which were strangely unsigned (I still find that odd. I understand not signing "Love, " but just signing would have been, well, normal). The messages were well-wishing but vaguely condescending, implying that I was lost without her. I have to presume she actually meant well and thought she was being caring and was unaware of how they came accross.

Link to comment

I don't know. I have mixed feelings about breadcrumbs. I don't think they mean "nothing" all the time.


For example, I became interested in one of my friends (and I wrote about it in the Long Distance Relationships thread). We went our own ways and did our own things. This past summer, I rejected him when he pursued me full force. He kept trying and I still rejected him (because I was still getting over the ex). Things went down hill and we didn't talk for 3 months (he stopped texting me). I tried texting him and he didn't even bother responding when he found out who I was.


In his mind, it was probably breadcrumbs. But the truth is that I wanted to let him know that I was willing to give him a chance if he wanted one. I pretty much told him that I don't understand what happened and that it would be nice if he told me if I did something wrong. No response. I figured he didn't even want to bother with me anymore.


Most people aren't going to say, "Hey, want to go out with me?" or "Hey, want to give it another try?" They are going to test the waters first. And because my friend chose to ignore me, he will probably never know that I wanted to give him that chance.

Link to comment
If they don't tell you right away, be straight and ask and if they don't give you the answer you want, disappear. But don't just sit there and wait. That's the key (in my opinion at least).


That is my opinion also. I know in this thread, the initial accusation is that the dumper throws breadcrumbs knowingly. I agree with TheEndComplete in the fact that a lot of times even the dumper doesn't even realize they are throwing crumbs. That said, there are a lot of the sinister type that DO throw them for their own benefit. This is why it's even more important to do what GreenCupcake said, because it will make THEM think about what they are doing, and it will require THEM to explain, or your gone. One of the hardest things to do for a dumpee, to turn down a potential "situation", but almost every time you will be better off.


This reminds me of an ex of mine from years ago, I dated her from her age 16 to 19. When she left for college (how many times have we read THAT line haha)...things changed. She was the SWEETEST girl I ever dated, even as of now, never lied, never cheated, yelled, never caused any pain of confusion, and would always talk down about girls/guys that "breadcrumbed". Well, after a few weeks post BU, she breadcrumbed me HARD. Every few days, I got a text, or email, or IM. always ended with "im sorry, idk what im doing"...and back then I wasn't aware of this site, or NC. So I was breadcrumbed for 6 months, by the sweetest anti-breadcrumber I ever met!


I still use that situation in my life to understand and put in perspective my breakups and how people, love in particular, is so unpredictable.

Link to comment

You have to analyze the person and the situation. Not all breadcrumbs are from egotistical cries for comfort and familiarity.


If you have the strength to risk cycling the pain again, but also the willpower to not feed on the crumb, then its worth a try. I believe contact with many many months (which means the link of comfort and familiarity are loooong dead, when they reach out they might be in a position of missing you for you and not plugging a hole of loneliness or insecurity) is far more productive (even if it is just a friendship).

Link to comment

I agree. Like I stated earlier, I don't think that all dumpers issue breadcrumbs to be malicious. Some may and I consider them to be ego maniacs if they do purposely. Some may simply be wondering about you and missing you from their life - not necessarily interested in reconciling. Some may be hurting, reminiscing and reaching out for support. I don't think that this is fair because they let you go and left in a position without them for support (or so we learn over time after we get past the denial/bargaining stage) so they should not count on you for their support either. They also need to seek it elsewhere.


My point is that a lot of people here on ENA question what it means. And if they are questioning, they are still hopeful. Very rarely is someone actually issuing a breadcrumb to test the waters first. And if you ignore it, and they truly want to reconcile, they will not stop at one breadcrumb. They will seek you out and be consistent about it. They may over time even get more direct about their intentions.


Too many times, way too many.....the breadcrumbs that we receive are coming from someone that does not care to reconcile. They are just reaching out for whatever reason or motive. But when the recipient is still in a place where they wish or hope for reconciliation, this can end in disappointment and set them back in their healing over the loss of the relationship. They are looking to seek out the possibility of a hidden message that doesn't exist. If you are strong enough (and mind you some of us go into immediate denial that we are at the time) to not see it as anything more than what is being conveyed in the message, they can ignore or they can answer - and most importantly, continue to move on. However, that is less likely the case. If we haven't fully healed, and we answer, we look for a reply. And 9x out of 10 there is no follow-up after the initial communication that was sent. And we go back to try and get back on the track of moving forward possibly a few steps back from where we were before hearing from the ex.


The best that someone can do is to not respond. That way, they are not kidding themselves into believing that they are strong enough when they are not and they don't delay their path to getting past the breakup. If the ex is communicating and truly testing the waters - has worked on themselves and whatever issues caused them to end the relationship in the first place and they are certain that they let the best thing go - they will try more than once. They will use several methods to do so. And those actions speak louder than any words.


I had an ex reach out and offer up seeing each other after not having spoken for over 6 mos. Turns out he only wanted to hook up with me one more time before he started dating a girl he had met. Who knows or cares why? I don't. All I know is that I was hoping for more and he was using it to move on. It was not fun to be in that place after he had his "closure" so that he could move on with his life and start dating the new girl within a week of seeing me after so long.

Link to comment

I am now, after almost 4 years of confusion and pain, learning about the 'breadcrumb'. I am figuering out that a person could 'profess', 'I love you', 'you are hot', 'I need you and want you', and yet never translate any of these into actions, leaving one utterly confused and in pain. He can be calling you and texting you 24/7 and yet don't have the time to actually be with you or be intimate. I don't think he meant anything malicious, but he certainly thrived on the constant attention, affection, ego boost from me as he had me hangining on these words for so long and leaving me constantly longing for more that rarely came. I think in his mind, he did, in his way, 'loved' me as he professed that he has never loved anyone as he loves me. But, in the end, all words, no action, left me terribly miserable and sick. He still 'pursues' me with these breadcrumbs. But, now I am finally waking up from a stupor and learning to see this as what it is, breadcrumb. Thanks, ENA for the elucidation.

Link to comment

Thank you for this post. It's very on point and on TIME.


I received a breadcrumb from my ex 2 days ago. I almost jumped on the phone, eager to talk to him. But something in my head said to ignore the message. I did. I'm glad. Looking back, he was just being curious. Nothing more.

Thanks again for this post.

Link to comment
I've never given a breadcrumb and haven't received one since we parted ways. Completely agree with the fundamentals of this thread though, if someone was to ask me how I was after not speaking to them for x amount of months then I just simply wouldn't answer. Pointless really!


That is great that you have that mind set and strength. Unfortunately, when we are hurting and still not past the relationship, the breadcrumbs look like the loaf of bread. We are starving so no matter how small the offering, it looks like a feast. Thus the questioning of what it means. Our brain tells us it is a breadcrumb. Our heart says it is the loaf of bread. Listen to your head. Your heart wants what it wants but it will tend to sacrifice in order to get out of pain. This is not always best. I am not saying to not take risks. This is specific to this particular situation where the relationship is over and one is still pining for the return of their ex that ended the relationship.

Link to comment

Something that I thought of last night that I thought to share in this thread as it relates to breadcrumbs......


Yes, we are trying to protect ourselves from reading more into an ex's reaching out than we should. Yes, an ex reaching out gives us some validation that we were not forgotten as that is a common question we have once the breakup occurs and all the familiar patterns of contact are broken - feels as if they disappeared, as if we didn't ever exist. Logically and intelligently we know this is not true but emotionally, that is the perception we are left with in our despair.


I really think that 90+% of the time an ex reaching out is not malicious. Yes, while they go through the distancing and contemplating leading up to their making the decision to end things, and we are the ones reeling - I still think that there is a good percentage of them that once far enough past the ending of the relationship reflect back on it. It can be as if they skipped a step in their own process of healing and moving past it. They make a decision and are so focused on their resolve that they might actually not move on to some of the other stages of grieving the relationship themselves until much later. They forget the pain and reasons that caused them to breakup. Circumstances in their lives have for whatever reason caused them to think of us. Either for the support we once offered to them when together or they trip accross a reminder of us that causes them to pause and reflect. They also may feel some remorse for having been the one to end the relationship, or for how they ended it or how they treated us when we were begging to reconcile....whatever the reasons, there could be many and more than one that is at play.


We don't know when they hit this point. We don't know if they ever will. And even if they do, it doesn't mean they want to reconcile. be it pride. Be it they know that the relationship wasn't working for them. Etc. etc. etc...


The breadcrumbs are simply a signal to us that we are on their mind or they were recently reminded of us - the majority of the time. Not that they want to reconcile. It can also very well be that deep inside of them they want to feel better about the breakup too. I think a lot of people regardless of role in the breakup feel a sense of loss when disconnected, as necessary to heal or accept the end of the relationship, as this was someone they were closest to at the time and most intimate with in their life. You were in a relationship at one point and shared life, secrets, time, fears, joy, etc.... You were a priority to them and they to you. While they may be comfortable enough to sacrifice that place in your life at the time they choose to end the relationship doesn't necessarily mean that they don't ever feel a sense of loss for it. It may take a while for them to realize the loss. It may take months or years. You can't put yourself on hold for them to have the question as the glimmer of hope you have to reconcile. It simply doesn't work.


When i started this thread about saying "no" to breadcrumbs it was out of empathy for all the people that are hoping that it means reconciliation or the possibility thereof. To be fair to our ex's and to the comments and questions posed within, these are the thoughts that I had for possible perspective or a theory for the other side of the equation - where the ex is coming from when they dole out the breadcrumbs. Still doesn't change the outcome for us. It just is what it is.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

I too have had my share of breadcrumbs. They hurt. They do set us back in our healing. But we do have to accept them for what they are. It is impossible for another to send us a txt or an email without having thought of us. But if we accept that it is a thought then we will be okay. I agree we should not respond to breadcrumbs. Usually they are isolated messages that serve no meaningful purpose. Very rarely are they ever followed up. If we don't respond the response is usually the same as if we did.....nothing more. We are much better ignoring them.

Thank you for all the insightful comments made in this thread. They have really helped me understand breadcrumbs!

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...