Breadcrumbing is nothing new, it allows you to keep your options open while stringing someone else along with the least amount of effort or regard for the other person. Social media facilitating it is new. “Our interconnected world allows for brevity. Truncated messages = truncated emotions. Social media removes the effort involved in emotional dialogue. Why explain our feelings when we can use an emoticon?” says Susan Winter, Bestselling Author/Relationship Expert. Right :)
Social media creates global connectedness, sharing life events, dating ease; but it also can create lower self-esteem, obsessive social stalking, and what I call “Vanity Validation”. Has social media facilitated suboptimal dating behaviors? Have we become too reliant on checking social? How has it impacted our dating lives? Has it become easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb in today’s digital world? Are we causing self-inflicted pain while dating? I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active social media users and found that:
- 80% reported it being easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb because of the lack of communication and face-to-face interaction
- 80% of millennials reported having experienced ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing firsthand
- 50% reported feeling FOMO when comparing themselves to others on social media
- 60% of millennials reported feeling FOMO
These current dating trends are just an extension of how we use our social media. We're treating people like we do our social media streams. The shiniest object is what we stop at, then move onto the next shiny object. But, there is a vicious cycle to these dating patterns. What fuels it? Social media! Being connected to the person that has ghosted, benched, gaslit or breadcrumbed can have detrimental effects on your self-esteem. When I asked how often do you check the social feeds of those that have expressed some form of interest in you? 90% said daily. Once they have had a ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing experience, it becomes weekly for 70%.
Claudia Cox, Founder of Text Weapon, explains, “Even if the person no longer texts or even returns (or answers) your calls, you’re kept up to date (whether you want to be or not) by reading or watching their life on social! Because of this, it takes more time and discipline to get over them. In the past, you could just avoid a bar so you wouldn’t see them and could give your heart time to mend – no longer! Now every time you check your social streams, they there are, tugging at the scar tissue on your heart. It can make the healing process a lot harder and longer!”
5 signs that you are being breadcrumbed
“Continually trained to interact in sparse response, the game of breadcrumbing becomes one of the many new forms of meaningless “play.” It’s the allure of interest, without the weight or credibility. It’s seduction, without the promise of a future.” explains Winter. Curious about what are some signs of being breadcrumbed? Winter has 5 signs that are based on classical avoidance to look out for:
1. “Texts sent at a time you can’t possibly reply.
2. Calls made at a time you can’t possibly answer.
3. Flirtatious messages sent, but no concrete plans for a proper date.
4. Illusive time schedule when you try to initiate plans.
5. Vague contact messages like, “Speak soon” or “Let’s touch base later on.”.”
“Breadcrumbing is like watching TweetDeck … a message is left but vanishes into the void of past seconds.” explains Winter.
How to handle being breadcrumbed
Self-awareness. “While some think there is nothing worse than completely disappearing on someone you are dating-not even deeming them worthy of an explanation-others struggle more with breadcrumbing because the false sense of hope makes for prolonged pain. It really is case by case--depending what it triggers in a person. For example, if someone has fears of abandonment ghosting would definitely be worse.” explains Rachel Russo, Matchmaker/Dating & Relationship Coach and Founder of Rachel Russo Relationships
Social media = your ally. “If you’re being breadcrumbed, social media can actually be your ally. Within reason (don’t go full stalker), a browse through their social feeds could reveal details about their relationship intent and give you an indication of whether they’re actually interested in you or not. You need to minimize the impact of their activity, their messages – all the traces of them that can be so painful to see every day. Text them down – make sure your phone is well stocked with messages and activity from other people, so that you aren’t constantly seeing their name and photo popping up. Whether this means reaching out to new people, reconnecting with friends, or filling your newsfeed with funny videos of cats (no one’s judging!), do what you need to do to flush them out. Ultimately, social media makes all social and romantic interaction faster, easier, and more intense, but by playing smart you can avoid getting burned.” says Cox.
Stay off social media. Denise Levy, BSW, Founder of MatchMaker Gulf Coast, offers a different solution: “Curiosity killed the cat! Let me repeat that: Curiosity killed the cat! During the first month or so I recommend not even connecting on social media with someone you are dating. This totally avoids the ghosting, benching, breadcrumbing and gaslighting. If you just can resist the temptation and must do your due diligence be prepared for the worst and please be sure your social media is presenting the very best version of you. But I have to ask: why would you even want to put yourself in that situation? Keep in mind, everyone likes a bit of mystery so why would you open yourself up in this way too soon?”