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Breadcrumbing: what to do if the partner only gives crumbs?

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Breadcrumbing: what to do if the partner only gives crumbs?

It may happen that you date someone who shows uncertain attitudes, gives attention intermittently, does not keep promises and avoids committing to shared plans for the future. Yet, although these behaviors can cause suffering, sometimes we are still willing to tolerate them. In fact, there is a phenomenon capable of starting a vicious circle, called breadcrumbing. But what is it and how can you protect yourself? We talked about it with Valeria Fiorenza Perrispsychotherapist and clinical director of the Unobravo online psychology service.

What is breadcrumbing?

«Breadcrumbing characterizes the relationships in which one partner offers the other crumbs of affection. The word recalls the crumbs of attention that the other somehow ends up being satisfied with, fearing that the relationship might end. This fear induces accept this dynamic, even at the expense of your own well-being and balance», explains the psychotherapist.

What are breadcrumbing signals?

«For example, it happens that Appointments one week are frequent and the next they are non-existent. Or perhaps, they are established only on the basis of the availability of one of the partners, while one of the two has to be satisfied with what the other gives him. This online mode is even more amplified, because it is clear that if I don’t have time I simply don’t connect, or I don’t write in chat. Consequently, the other is somehow subject to my relational organization.”

«In reality, those who implement this dynamic want to have the other in their lives, but on their own terms. A real one is triggered power dynamicsalways acting with ambiguity. The key is precisely the intermittent reinforcement: on the one hand I give you, on the other I take you away. However, the very fact that I previously gave to you makes it difficult for you to see the moment when I stop doing it. If on the one hand there is no room for planning as a couple, on the other hand the partner’s expectations are never completely disappointed. He is allowed to continue to nourish the expectation that sooner or later the relationship will have a concrete turning point and will be able to evolve in the hoped-for direction».

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Have dating apps and social networks influenced this phenomenon?

«Io I don’t think it’s possible to hypothesize a direct correlation between this phenomenon and the search for a partner through dating apps. It is clear, however, that the very nature of breadcrumbing can find great fertile ground online. Whoever implements this dynamic does not want to bond completely, but to keep the other anchored to him he always maintains a sort of boundary line. Communicates ambiguously, vaguely, sometimes even intermittently. With this in mind, online can be a privileged means of implementing and maintaining these methods over timeas allows the avoidance of concrete interactions and therefore, essentially, of real involvement.”

Manipulative dynamics can be difficult to recognize

“It’s a lot It is difficult for a person to realize that they are at the center of a manipulative dynamic, precisely because it involves manipulation. This is also clearly evident from the love bombingwhich is a real bombardment of attention, promises, displays of care and affection, which put the partner in a position to lower his defenses. This courtship phase, however, which we could define as tense and almost movie-like, often gives way to devaluations or even attempts to isolate the other person so that he or she gives up living and experiencing other aspects of her life. In this case too, it is a very complex dynamic.”

«Moreover, the underlying ambiguity is precisely there difference between breadcrumbing and ghostingin which instead there is the total disappearance of the other. In fact, in breadcrumbing the person never disappears definitively but there is always a thread that he maintains to keep the other attached to him. The absence of particularly significant events makes it even more difficult to notice this dysfunctional dynamic and also to then trigger transformative processes.”

Breadcrumbing: The emotional impact of settling for crumbs

«If we decide to share with our partner the way that relationship makes us feel, following this awareness, the other should be able to trigger a change. The couple should be able to experience a moment of growth and discussion, aimed precisely at modifying the existing dynamics. When this does not happen, it is clear that in some way this dynamic is functional to the other and he doesn’t want to change it. In this case, it is probably not simply a moment or a phase of the relationship, but a more stable mechanism that can imply suffering”, continues Valeria Fiorenza Perris.

«This dynamic can characterize the emotional relationships first of all, but in general many areas such as friendship or family and all the relationships that are significant to us. From a relational point of view, it can have a very negative impact on the way we perceive ourselves and, consequently, also on our self-esteem».

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Why it’s important to maintain boundaries in a relationship

«It is true that the couple also needs compromises, which however must be acceptable and not make us feel that we are losing ourselves in the other. Power cultivate a couple dimension without losing our boundaries, is probably the apotheosis of what would be necessary. Perhaps the important thing would be to understand why in that moment we feel like we have to settle or that no one is good for us. Because then judgments and diagnostic labels do not define who we are. The dynamics and our history tell who we are. By exploring all these modalities, we can make a reasoning that does us justice and that is more similar to our complexity.”

«We often make the mistake of focusing much more on the reasons that lead the other to carry out that behavior and not change it, rather than on us and how that relationship makes us feel. While To avoid finding ourselves in these situations it is essential to always take care of our emotions. It can help us put ourselves at the center and keep a focus on what makes us feel good, rather than on the behavior of others over which we have no power.”

How to protect yourself from breadcrumbing?

«Just recognizing the suffering we feel is complicated and it is even more complicated to attribute it to a dysfunctional relational dynamic. The first objective is to gain awareness. Recognizing the signs and psychological consequences of these relational methods is a very important step. The second step is to ask ourselves what we need and the answer cannot be the same for everyone. If I understand that these dynamics hurt me, then I have to understand what I need to feel better for build a daily dimension that is more like me».

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«Letting go is difficult and perhaps the key to doing so is to strengthen other dimensions. Because if I feel empowered on multiple fronts, I can also act more consciously and with more strength. If I think I can’t express my needs, it means there’s a sore point for me somewhere. Because maybe I think, and it’s just one of the hypotheses, that if I did it the other person would leave. The point is not to do things by forcing yourself, but to do them when you are ready and that happens when you feel safe. In this process, psychotherapy helps. However, a partner’s choices are never random and unfortunately the dynamics tend to replicate themselves. It is therefore clear that root work is a help, because it allows you to make new choices», concludes the expert.

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