Am I Being Led On? Experts Explain The Psychology Behind Breadcrumbing & Why People Keep Others On The Hook

Of all the annoying dating habits folks have developed over the years, breadcrumbing is possibly one of the most painful and confusing. If someone is breadcrumbing you, they’ll likely pop up at odd intervals to say hi and express their interest, only to disappear again shortly thereafter. It’s like ghosting, but it’s long and drawn out. And it just keeps happening.

In short, “breadcrumbing is a way of stringing a person along using text and social media,” Elisa Robyn, Ph.D., a relationship expert with a background in psychology, tells Bustle. “You might have had a few dates, or even been a bit serious, and then you wonder if you have been ghosted.”

But rather than straight-up disappearing, you might receive a random text message, a like on your Instagram photo, or perhaps a few phone calls here and there, Robyn says. It’ll seem like they’re making just enough of an effort to keep you in their life, without ever truly committing or taking things to the next level.

“The notes are fun and perhaps a bit sexy, and then they stop again,” she says. “You might schedule a few dates, but for some reason, they are always canceled and followed by a short text. You feel like you are following a trail of breadcrumbs, that someone is leading you on.” And you may very well be right.

Woman with phone

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So why does it happen? On one end of the spectrum, this breadcrumber may be attempting to let you down softly, Robyn says. Instead of being honest, or ghosting you, they choose to send sporadic texts, essentially letting the relationship die a slow and painful death. For them, it isn’t going anywhere and they know it, but they don’t ever do you the favor of saying so.

That said, they very well could be interested, but aren’t quite sure what to do or say next, hence all the confusing texts. “They are still ‘testing the waters’ in the relationship and want some space to do this,” Dr. Marni Feuerman, LCSW, LMFT, an author and licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. In this situation, you may have chatted about starting a relationship, but they are taking their sweet time, and stringing you on in the process.

Unfortunately, breadcrumbing can also be a sign someone is still in a relationship, and are texting you just for fun. “Often breadcrumbers are in a relationship they find unsatisfying and hope to enliven their life,” Robyn says, usually by sending flirty texts. They may take comfort in knowing you’re there, should they ever decide to call their current relationship quits.

When that’s the case, these messages might even be a way for them to feel better about themselves. For example, if they get rejected by their partner or have an argument, they might reach out to you as a way to boost their ego, Caroline Madden, Ph.D., an author and licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. They know you’ll text back and distract them, but it will never really be more than that.

Beautiful serious thoughtful and sad black woman with curly hair using smartphone on bed

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There’s no denying breadcrumbing can be incredibly unfair, so the more you can do to detect it early and cut things off before it gets to you, the better. While it can be tricky to spot, it can help to “watch for a pattern of canceled dates followed by several text messages and then silence,” Robyn says. “There will be just enough communication to keep you confused.”

If you notice these signs, “there are two options,” she says. “The first is to address this head-on and ask the person if they want to have a relationship with you or not.” Depending on how they respond, you can decide if you’re willing to wait and see where things go, or make a clean break and officially move on.

“Your second option is to block them on all your accounts and leave this unsatisfactory situation behind you,” Robyn says. If it isn’t working out, or you don’t like how this person is making you feel, call it off. Don’t text back. Block them on social media. Do whatever you need to do to move on, and protect yourself. Because nobody needs to be strung along.

 

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ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING: Inspiration and Behind the Scenes – Part 3

I decided to go back in my memory and try to remember all of the inspiring moments in my own life that helped bring this book to life. I published Part 1 and 2 the last two Mondays, so you can check them out to gather more insight into the book. Anyway, here’s some more stuff…

The Conversations: The interesting dialogue between Christian and the people in his life all came out of my head for the most part. I originally envisioned Angel as a play. It was about two people on a long car ride. The play would focus on all of the cool conversations they have together on a road trip. I wanted the stories to be diverse and engaging. Back in the 90’s, what else was there to do on a long trip? Read a magazine, listen to the radio or simply talk. I liked the idea and as the story grew, I incorporated all of those clever exchanges into the story.

The Villain: Although I’m always rooting for the hero, the bad guys in movies and books are always more interesting than the good guys. When I think about it, the villain has his on perspective of right and wrong. Both parties think they’re right. Superman wants to save the world, but Lex Luthor has his own agenda. The villain in Angel simply wants what he believes is rightfully his, and will stop at nothing to get it. I can’t really blame him, but I don’t agree with his methods. He isn’t based on anyone I know. I just envisioned the classic man in black from modern folklore.

The Route: Back in 1982, I took a road trip from New Jersey to Los Angeles, in a 1969 Volkswagen mini bus. I was with my buddy Frank Roberts. It was February when we set out, so we took the most southern route. It was interstate 10. Remembering many of the details and stops on that trip, I was able to create a similar route for Christian and Jill. Knowing that road and those towns along the way, I was able to bring the trip to life in a realistic way.

The Wagon Wheel: That’s a restaurant that Chris and Jill dine in one day. The name of the place is from a song by the band, Morphine. It’s a song called Thursday. I love that whole album, (A Cure for Pain) The lyrics always seemed so clever and illicit, that I felt that the song deserved a mention. Here’s the lyrics:

We used to meet every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
We used to go to a motel a motel
A motel across the street
And the name of the motel was the Wagon Wheel
Oh
One day she said come on come on she said
Why don’t you come back to my house
She said my husband’s out of town
You know he’s gone till the end of the month
Well I was just so nervous so nervous
You know I couldn’t really quite relax
‘Cause I was never really quite sure when her
Husband was coming back
Sure one of the neighbors yea one of the neighbors
One of the neighbors that saw my car
And they told her yea they told her
I think they know who you are
Well her husband he’s a violent man a very violent and jealous man
Now I have to leave this town I got to leave while I still can
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
She was pretty good too
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mark Sandman
Thursday lyrics © BMG Rights Management
I just liked the song so I worked the Wagon Wheel into the book.

New Orleans: Back in 1982, on my real road trip with Frank, we pretty much stayed on highway 10. But I remember the day we left Mobile, Alabama, Frank expressed that he wanted to take highway 12 down into New Orleans. I’m so glad we did that. You can actually read about our whole trip in the series: California Dreamin’ on this blog! Just enter that into the SEARCH box and you can read the whole sordid tale. It’s such a unique and wild place I had to include it into Angel. Did I jump onstage and play with a band in a bar down there? No. But it just had to be a stop for our heroes on their trip because it’s just a neat place. I think after we left there I described it as… Sodom and Gomorrah with a two drink minimum!

Sealy, Texas: That really happened. It wasn’t as bad as I made it in the book, (the roaches!) but the whole bit about the desk clerk, his coloring book and him chasing us in his car down a dirt road, really happened to Frank and I on our journey back in 1982. Difference was, I didn’t have a bulldog .44 pistol. But I did have Frank, who was formerly a member of the Junior wing of the IRA back in Belfast, Ireland. I’ll never forget when he leaped out of the car, with an ice pick in his hand to face the guy chasing us. I obviously changed it up for the book, but yea…true story.

The Car: When I first started writing this book, I thought what kind of car should they take on an odyssey across America. The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz came to mind. It’s an enormous automobile built for the open road. Can you imagine trying to parallel park that beast in the city? You’d never even find a spot for a car that size. Here’s a link to some more info:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Eldorado

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible ...

It just seemed like the obvious choice for a long trip across the country. It looks like a 1950’s science fiction spaceship.  Who wouldn’t want to step on the gas and let that massive chrome boat carry you to parts unknown? There was a song I heard on WXPN in Philly, (public supported radio) by a band called Southern Culture on the Skids. There was a song called Voodoo Cadillac that opens the album. It’s some good old fashioned shit kickin’ rockabilly. I loved the idea of the title. So the character, Jean from Haiti was born, and he’s the one who brings the car back to life. As we all know Haiti is where voodoo comes from. I always like the movie, Serpent and the Rainbow, so that was an inspiration as well.

I always loved the car, and even bought a little toy one when I was in Palm Springs with my wife back in the 1990’s! (I still have it!)

The Police: The two officers that visit Christian and Jill in Texas were based on a couple of my childhood friends. Michael Mitchell was a kid I grew up with in Philly. His father was a cop and he became a police officer as well. He had a decorated career but sadly passed away in April of 2020. Richard Sarlo was my best friend in Wildwood New Jersey every summer. He always wanted to become a police officer. Through the years he rose up the ranks and eventually became the Chief of Police in Collingswood, New Jersey. He’s since retired and is living a happy life in South Jersey.

Scene in the Texas desert: The scene where Jill and Chris have to hang for a day in Texas because of the police investigation, was born from an old film. One of my least favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, To Catch a Thief was the inspiration. It’s just Cary Grant and Grace Kelly riding a scooter in I the Italian countryside. She has a picnic lunch and I just loved the vibe of that scene so I sort of dropped that into the story. To me it’s a throwaway scene from a throwaway movie.

More to come next Monday!

 

Please buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly