What To Do When Your Ex Is Breadcrumbing You

By Keelia Clarkson··  5 min read
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Being breadcrumbed is no fun – especially when it’s your ex doing it.

Breakups are normally hard, messy, and confusing, whether they’re mutual or one-sided. It’s difficult to untangle our feelings, to begin to see this person as no longer “ours” but entirely separate from us.

So it’s no secret that most of us prefer a no-contact approach when it comes to breakups; the end of a relationship means there will be a shift in the dynamic, and it’s typically far easier to just cut off the relationship entirely than attempt to redefine it and risk getting feelings hurt.

But sometimes, while we aren’t necessarily on friendly terms with our ex, we still choose not to act like they never existed. Maybe we don’t delete their number, or we keep following each other on social media – after all, unfollowing can feel so aggressive.

Then, before we know it, we keep getting little morsels of attention from our ex – a like here or there, a random call to catch up, or we see his name continually popping up at the top of our story views. We start to wonder… are we being breadcrumbed?

What Is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is when we’re shown tiny bits of interest or affection at a time from someone, whether they’re a romantic suitor or an ex – but not enough for us to assume interest. They might send an out-of-the-blue text or leave a flirty comment on our latest selfie or invite us out to coffee.

A breadcrumber will give someone just enough attention to keep them intrigued and wondering about their intentions, following their little trail of breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel, without exerting all that much effort on their part.


What Does It Mean If I’m Being Breadcrumbed?

There are a couple of motivations a breadcrumbing ex might have. Maybe he’s testing the waters to see if we’d be interested in getting back together, all without having to come forward and say he wants to give the relationship another chance. Or maybe, he simply enjoys the thought of having an ex pining after him; he might want to keep our feelings for him fresh for an ego boost, but have zero intentions of rekindling anything.

What Should I Do If I’m Single and My Ex Is Breadcrumbing Me?

If our ex keeps on breadcrumbing us, it’s time for us to figure out how we feel about that. Do we hope he’s breadcrumbing because he wants to get back together? Or does it frustrate us to keep seeing his name pop up when we’d just started feeling better after the breakup? Knowing where we stand and what we desire will guide us in our reaction to his breadcrumbing.

If we’ve thought about giving the relationship another go and wonder if he wants the same thing, it’s best to be upfront and ask him to be honest with us: “I’ve noticed you keep on reaching out. Can we talk about what’s going on?” Maybe we’ll both find that we’re wanting to get back together, or maybe it’ll become clear that he was hoping to keep us interested for his own vanity (in which case, it’s probably best to cut things off completely so we can begin to move on).

But if we’re committed to moving on and truly don’t enjoy seeing his name pop up on our phone anymore, it’s time to block his number and socials and allow ourselves to forget about him. If we want to do this on good terms, we can reach out letting him know that we’re moving on and feel that no contact is best.

never ever getting back together

What Should I Do If I’m in a Happy Relationship and My Ex Is Breadcrumbing Me?

If we’ve moved on and are in a happy relationship, it can be disconcerting to suddenly see our ex’s name flash across our screen: What does he want? What made him watch our story after all this time? Why does he still have our number?

But if we’re happy with our new guy, the answers to our questions don’t really matter, and neither does our ex anymore. As soon as our ex makes another appearance, it’s time to block him, no questions asked or replies given. His intentions shouldn’t be of any concern to us.

This may feel harsh and reactionary, but if we consider how we’d feel with the roles reversed (with our boyfriend getting messages from his ex), it’s not hard to see why that could cause some insecurity and even make us wonder if he enjoys getting morsels of attention from her. Don’t let a breadcrumbing ex stir up drama when it’s so much easier to block him.

block erase delete unfollow

Closing Thoughts

Breadcrumbing can be emotionally confusing, drudge up old feelings, and bring someone who belongs in the past into our present. If we’re trying to move on, it’s always best to nip any breadcrumbing in the bud.

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