Having a crush on someone can be one of the most thrilling feelings in the world. From the butterflies you’re likely to have in your tummy, to the thumping loud beating of your heart when the object of your affection randomly texts you – being in love is so amazing! Even when your crush doesn’t know how you feel about them, your affection will still bubble up inside of you, often giving you a renewed sense of optimism about life.
But what happens when the person you’re crushing on sends you mixed signals about their feelings for you? Nobody likes being breadcrumbed by someone they’re losing their hearts to, but unfortunately many of us become too blinded by our affection to notice that we’re being treated as ‘options’ and not cared for wholeheartedly.
In a nutshell, ‘breadcrumbing’ refers to someone flirting with you in a very non-committal way and ghosting you as soon as you start falling for them. What makes breadcrumbing so cruel is that the person you’re crushing on will never completely disappear from your life, thereby stringing you along for their continued amusement. Your crush could, for example, text you once every three weeks, or comment and ‘Like’ all the selfies you upload on Instagram, and because they make you feel so incredibly special when they do reach out, you end up never wanting to cut contact with them completely.
Continuing to entertain your crush after they’ve shown you that they’re not consistent in their affection for you is like going on a really steep rollercoaster ride. Some parts will thrill you, while others will leave you with a vomit-like feeling in the pit of your stomach.
A while ago, I found myself being breadcrumbed. A handsome guy whom I never saw as more than a friend started texting me frequently on WhatsApp every day for about a month. He’d comment on the pictures I uploaded on Facebook, ‘Liked’ all my posts and followed me on all social media platforms. Although I found it strange that the guy had suddenly taken an interest in me, I eventually started enjoying the attention he gave me and ended up developing a massive crush on him.
One day, I decided to initiate a conversation with him on WhatsApp. I was enjoying his company and wanted to spend quality time with him, in person. As we texted, I noticed the guy was taking at least 15 minutes to respond to each text and would randomly stop replying whenever he felt like it. This happened for five consecutive days. I was so confused, because the guy – who had now become my crush – had been very consistent in his communication with me in the past, and would reply to my texts the second after I’d sent them.
After I noticed my crush was becoming cold towards me, I started feeling like a nuisance to him and deleted his number. It hurt me to do that, but I hated him for leading me on and then ghosting me after I had fallen for him.
Three weeks after I deleted his number, he texted me on WhatsApp again and I found myself falling into the familiar trap of his charm.
“I’ll always be there for you, you’re my number one priority.”
These words sent me reeling. My crush had successfully trapped me once more. The following week, he asked me to go to the movies with him and I agreed. I was so excited and bought a brand-new outfit and had my nails and hair done. I looked and felt amazing. The day of our ‘date’, I texted my crush to ask what time he would be picking me up. I was incredibly happy. But after opening my WhatsApp to check his response, my heart completely sank.
The guy politely told me that he was in Johannesburg and would be there the entire week. He was unapologetic about what he had done and said that he ‘forgot’ to cancel our plans.
I was shattered as I read his WhatsApp text. I had never been stood up before. All the effort I had put into looking and feeling amazing was wasted. I had been fooled once more and thus knew I had to block him from my life and walk away from the toxic situation.
I know what it’s like to be hopeful about a crush, but whether you’re a guy or girl, you should never allow anyone to play with your emotions and string you along. You’re worth so much more than that!
Here are some signs that your crush is breadcrumbing you:
- They text you inconsistently
If someone is leading you on, they’ll usually text you incredibly flirtatious messages some days and completely ignore you on others. In my case, my crush would text me things like ‘you’re charming’, or ‘If I travel the world, I’ll take you along’ and then ignore me for weeks at a time thereafter, leaving me befuddled about where I stood with him.
It’s important to remember that anyone who makes you question your place in their life is not worth your time.
- They have no problem standing you up
There may be genuine reasons why your crush is unable to meet with you as they’d planned, but if they truly cared for you, they would sincerely apologise and reschedule your date. In my case, my crush clearly didn’t care about me at all. After I had sent him a long paragraph on WhatsApp detailing how disappointed I was that he had stood me up, all he sent me was a simple, ‘sorry’. I knew I had to move on, because I was not respected or cared for by that man.
If the person you’re into simply stands you up with no credible explanation, please see that as a huge red flag. People who truly care about you would never hurt you like that.
- There is no effort
As the word implies, ‘breadcrumbing’ refers to your crush doing the bare minimum to keep you interested in them, while knowing very well that they have no real interest in making you happy. My crush texted and never called. He never sincerely apologised for standing me up, nor did he try and reschedule our plans. All the guy did was text me sweet nothings. I should have known better than to fall for his charm.
Any person who cares for you will try and please you in any way they can. They won’t play mind games just to keep you interested in them.
- They hardly ask you anything
The breadcrumber will often be interested in telling you how amazing they are but will hardly ever listen to you or ask you about your dreams or ambitions. My crush was largely a narcissist and loved talking about himself, without asking about any of my interests. Conversations with him felt like never-ending Macbeth soliloquies. I was more of an audience member than a potential partner.
If a guy or girl likes you, they’ll want to know as much about you as possible and not spend hours yammering on about themselves.
- They never compliment you
If someone likes you, they’ll try their best to make sure you know how special you are to them. Pay attention to how your crush speaks to you and whether they try making you feel good about yourself or not. My crush never called me beautiful or smart or anything like that and I simply had to infer meaning from things he said. The closest thing to a compliment I got from him was ‘you are charming’.
Someone who’s trying to win you over will assure you of how amazing you are, even if they’re shy, they will try expressing how they feel about you.
Never settle for less than what you deserve. You’re worth the consistency. You’re worth the effort. You deserve support. You deserve words of affirmation. And if you know your worth, the right person is sure to come knocking.
We all know about the red flags in relationships but what are some of the green flags? Read here to find out more.
Tell us: Have you ever been breadcrumbed? How did you deal with the situation?