how to break free from breadcrumbing in a relationship

how to break free from breadcrumbing in a relationship

Let’s talk about how to break free from breadcrumbing in a relationship. First of all, what is breadcrumbing? Psychology Today says, “Breadcrumbing is a term for stringing someone along with small nuggets of communication—but never fully committing to a relationship.” In the novel Miserably Happy, the main character, Livy, falls in love with Anthony and soon discovers the painful reality of being breadcrumbed by him.

In real life, it’s a painful experience. I’ve experienced it and maybe you have too. Maybe you’re in the middle of this type of experience now and feel hopeless about ever breaking free. I’m here to tell you it’s not hopeless. Read on!

First of all, let’s get clear on the signs of breadcrumbing. Taken from the same article, Psychology Today tells us the following:

Behaviors you can observe from the breadcrumber:

  • Inconsistent and erratic communication
  • Speaking via text or social media but not committing to spending time together in person
  • Not following through on plans that are made
  • Surface-level communication that lacks depth, vulnerability, or details about the person’s life
  • An imbalanced relationship—they don’t reciprocate your level of interest
  • Focusing on the physical side of the relationship rather than focusing on all sides of the relationship

Feelings you can observe in yourself

  • Feeling confused and uncertain about the state of the relationship
  • Feeling a roller coaster of emotion, such as sad, then hopeful, then disappointment once again
  • Feeling self-doubt, such as questioning if you did something wrong
  • Feeling anxious or dependent on the breadcrumber for the next point of contact
  • Feeling used or manipulated
  • Feeling badly about yourself after interacting with them
  • Feeling lonely or hopeless about the relationship

Now that we’re clear on the signs, let me tell you a bit about my personal experience on how to break free from breadcrumbing. Years ago, the guy and I were in a relationship. Even when we were in a relationship, he popped in and out with texts at his convenience and always blamed it on work. So, of course, I tried to understand and give him the benefit of the doubt. But our communication patterns via text were almost always on his terms.

Basically, after we broke up, he wanted to keep me in his life but completely on his terms… which meant the same type of interaction, popping in and out randomly, always blaming it on work and since being broken up, never wanting to talk about anything deep. Now the breadcrumbing felt even worse because we weren’t in a committed relationship so there were fewer guarantees about sharing real thoughts or genuine connections. It came down to the fact that when it was easy to connect, that’s when he’d shoot a text. Phone calls were pretty much non-existent.

People Need Different Things

All things considered, here’s the biggest thing I learned from the experience, and if you can realize it here, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache: it doesn’t matter if the other person who is breadcrumbing you means to or not. I repeat, it doesn’t matter if the the person means to or not. We all need different things based on past experiences and what we want now, and that’s why it’s important to find someone who is emotionally compatible. Or, even more realistically, you both are willing to compromise and be emotionally available to each other in that compromise.

My ex-boyfriend could have said, “Hey, since the week is always crazy, let’s set aside every Tuesday night to catch up for a bit,” or anything like that to show a compromise. But to him, that was too constraining. Scheduling anything and sticking to it schedule-wise for catching up was rare. Yes, he has too many plates in the air most of the time. Yes, he can be scatterbrained at times. But for me, the pattern was so ingrained in his personality that it wasn’t going to change unless he tried, and he wasn’t motivated to make that change.

He didn’t have intentions of hurting me. He only had intentions of keeping things light and on his terms as far as how it worked for him to communicate. And many times that meant he was thoughtless and inconsiderate without meaning to be.

Still, it doesn’t matter. Don’t make excuses for them. Don’t say they don’t mean to be hurtful. I said that too many times and, as a result, I was continuously hurt by his lack of investment, and I needed to break free from our unhealthy texting patterns. I was still in love to a degree he wasn’t, and our communication patterns were hurting me, not him.

How did I break free from breadcrumbing?

I visualized my future self.

Who I am becoming

What my future standards are in my relationships

The woman I want to continue to grow into

I stepped up my standards and realized if I’m to become the woman I want to be, living in my highest self, that means not continuously subjecting myself to someone else’s thoughtless behavior.

Whenever you think you want to hear from the breadcrumber, just think of the pain you’re subjecting yourself to when you don’t get the reciprocation you want. Think of the pain, not the pleasure in the relationship and put yourself first. Take care of yourself and stop creating patterns of setting yourself up to be hurt. If they want to change and step it up, you have a choice to try it or not, but don’t wait around for change. It doesn’t usually happen. Like I said, people many times need different things for different reasons.

Most importantly, visualize your best version of yourself, what that looks and feels like, and move toward your highest self.

It may be difficult at first but I’m telling you, it gets easier every day and you’ll become freer.

The last thing I’ll say on this is if you can find things in the relationship to be grateful for, while leaving it behind, even better! I know I’m grateful for the things I learned, including things that helped me figure out my creative expression and the tools to use to get here. I’m also thankful for the humor in that relationship, the travel, and sharing that love with him when it was good. Every experience brings us something we can take into the next experience to become a better version of ourselves.

The Staff at Psychology Today

Psychology Today

The article asks, “How can people cope with someone’s inability to commit?”
It goes on to say, “It can sometimes feel like society today struggles with commitment—when dating, in friendships, or at work. One way to handle flakiness is by acknowledging that it has affected you—rather than thinking that you “shouldn’t take it personally” or you should “just get over it.” Honor your moral integrity and the integrity of the reliable, committed people who surround you. Reflecting on your integrity and vowing to uphold it can help you recover your power after being treated disrespectfully.”

 

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travel to Dali in your head

travel to Dali in your head

Today we travel to Dali! Sometimes I wake up and want to be in a completely different place to experience something new. If planning a trip isn’t in the immediate future, another way to experience a new place is to scroll travel videos on YouTube, and this week we travel to Dali, a city in Yunnan Province in China.

Hence, I’m adding this series, travel in your head, to my relationship with self category here on the website. (I decided it’s a relationship with self  rather than a relationship with others because ultimately, exposing ourselves to new places does us a world of good within.)

As a lover of travel and a mom who is experiencing the everyday grind and honor (yes, both exist side by side) of trying to get my young adult boys on their feet, and, eventually, on their own, I need a place to go at least once a week where I can fill my cup by taking a few moments to just soak in a different locale.

Dali is a laid-back and stunning city in the province of Yunnan in China. If you like the video you can, of course, subscribe to Flora and Note’s channel.

So where is Dali, Yunnan on a map?

Erhai Lake adds to the location’s beauty as a backdrop to all of Dali City and, according to Wikipedia, sandwiches Dali Town in the west against the Cang Mountains.

Also according to Wikipedia, China is not a liberal or representative democracy.

That being said, the city looks like a fun place to visit with lots of activity and new experiences.

Take a moment and soak it in… let’s travel to Dali!

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find the light side in the everyday

find the light side in the everyday

The solar eclipse occurs today, and, in Colorado, we’ll see a partial solar eclipse between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm MST with a max partial eclipse around 12:30 pm. Cool stuff, and, in connection to this eclipse of solar energy, the post today focuses on finding light in the everyday.

Morning is my favorite time of the day. (I know, some of you groan at how this can be.) But it’s a fresh start, and I wake up, pop in my earbuds, and listen to a meditation on my phone app. Usually, the meditation is helpful, sometimes it isn’t, but I like the structure it provides for me ten to fifteen minutes every morning before I get out of bed.

Whatever it is I’m feeling during meditation, I pinpoint it, breathe into it, hold it, then exhale. If it’s a negative feeling or thought, it’s usually associated with fear. My thoughts can include I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do, or I’m out of practice on traveling overseas (yes, some of us get anxious over travel even though we love it), to I’m not sure what I need today. When I think the last thought, I rest and accept what I’m thinking and feeling, and then the next right step unfolds. It’s all about total self-acceptance.

Right now, I’m on the final print edit of a book I’ve worked on for a long time. For those of you who know me well, it feels like it’s “the book edit that never ends.” That’s how it feels to me, too, but I’m almost there!  (The ebook is done!) But I wake up and tend to feel mired in the mud of the everyday task of finishing the print edit. Only four more chapters to go!

And then, after that, marketing the book. Sometimes the marketing aspect feels like a total eclipse on my energy, but for the most part, I’ve trained my thoughts to view marketing the book as a positive thing, and I’m able to move into the lighter side of life by focusing on the positives regarding marketing: I’ll learn new marketing strategies and creative ways to implement social media. And I have a day job (that I like, even) that affords me the luxury of tweaking marketing strategies without feeling financially strapped. Lots of good things there.

Still, the tough parts of life are real. Just like when you wake up, and, yes, you’re thankful for the good things, but it doesn’t take away the tough things that come to mind because let’s face it, life is a challenge.

There’s so much negativity out there and within. It’s what we choose to listen to that makes the difference for us. We decide who we are, not someone else. There’s so much positive, too, and it doesn’t mean we’re denying our truthful, pained parts when we focus on the joyful aspects.

Just like this upcoming eclipse, our negative thoughts can momentarily block the light, but when we look for the positive thoughts, it’s a simple truth that leads us out of the darkness.

This article talks about the reality of stress in our lives and gives us tips on how to find joy.

Here are the main points but if you want to read the whole piece, it’s a quick, helpful article. Here’s the link!

1. Over 75% of us experienced at least one stress-related symptom in the last month, like headache, fatigue, nervousness or feeling depressed.

2.“Happiness is an emotion, whereas joy is more a state of being,” says Rebekkah Frunzac, M.D., general surgeon and chief wellness officer at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, TX.

3. Joy isn’t experienced in a vacuum. Most of the time, it’s a feeling or sentiment that spreads to others through our attitudes and actions.

4. Tips for discovering joy:

Focus on what we can control:

Many possible stressors in life are outside of our control. The weather, how others treat us, our past, natural disasters, our relatives, and other aspects of our lives exist without our input. While building joy, focus time and attention on things we can control.

Express Gratitude

Assume Good Intent:

I’m learning to assume good intent even if I don’t see eye to eye with another person. This comes into play bigtime with extended family. Just because another person may have good intentions, it doesn’t need to work for me, whatever the situation may be, but I can still assume good intent on their end. I once heard a woman say that assuming another person is doing their best keeps her focused on her path ahead. That stuck with me.

Concentrate on Building Relationships

Keep Perspective

 

Here’s the link to the article for more details under each tip!

helping our young adults live in fullness

helping our young adults live in fullness

This morning another full moon filled our skies— at 1 am MST to be precise. Some of the full moons in 2024 are named Wolf Moon, Hunter’s Moon, and Cold Moon… but this one is named Worm Moon… not exactly an inspiring name, if you ask me, but perfect for the topic of this post.

My oldest son is nineteen, not a child, not yet a man, and he’s dealing with challenges. What concerns me most lately are the types of thoughts that worm their way into his mind. Thoughts where he discounts himself, tells himself he should be more, do more, without giving himself credit for what he’s accomplished.

For years, he poured his heart and soul into musical aspirations with his band which recently lost an important member… causing my son to lose a lot of his inspiration and juice. All of the socializing after the shows takes a toll on him, too, and he’s in a place where he’s wondering if music is really what he wants to do after all. He said it like he’s boxed into a corner and doesn’t have other options. And I looked at him and said, “You’re nineteen. You’re young! Let your mind work for you, not against you. If you want to try something else, do it and see where it takes you.”

He has mad skills on the guitar and would go far if he’s willing to put energy into it. But right now I’m not sure what he’s going to do. In fact, he quit the band last night. It was tough but sometimes you have to quit what you know isn’t right before you’re able to feel your way into the next right thing. It’s scary. But there are no guarantees. This is life. So he’ll continue to take a few classes and figure out the next right thing.

He told me he wanted to be significant. I said, “You are significant, just by being here.” He said, “Well, that’s a new way of looking at it.”

Our society does place a lot of our worth in what we accomplish, and accomplishing our goals does build self-esteem. But accomplishments don’t make us more or less valuable. They do put us in a better position to thrive.

And he’s accomplished a lot already in music yet battles with not feeling good enough. What does he need to accomplish to feel good enough? It’s an elusive end goal and probably can’t be reached unless he gives himself credit for what he’s accomplished already and is at peace with who he is now. It’s like he’s caught between thinking, “I’m too invested to start over with something new” and “I’m not good enough to make it in music.” Well, yeah, I’d feel shitty, too, stuck between those two thoughts.

We’ll see what the future holds. I just want to see him pursue his path but not from a place of striving. Instead, from a place of thriving.

It can be unnerving having kids. Seeing them struggle. Witnessing their self-doubt. Touching base with the self-doubt you’ve experienced in your own life and grew from, too. Knowing it’s impossible to transfer your years of growth in this area to your child.
You can relay nuggets of truth. You can be an example. But you can’t walk the path for them. They must come into their fullness on their own.

The other night, while driving, I was filled with angst over my son’s turmoil. But straight ahead, through the windshield what appeared to be a full moon blazed above in the night sky. Apparently, not quite as full as this morning’s moon, but full and bright to my common eye… and immediately, within my angst, I was moved by the moon’s beauty and felt a connectedness and appreciation for having more time to practice coming into fullness, just like that moon. And another day to be here for my son as he practices coming into his fullness, too.

The most important element I took away from this article is this: from now on, when I talk to my nineteen-year-old, I’ll ask him, “What would you like to see happen next?”

This is important because I’m realizing more and more, I can’t control the outcome of my son’s life. Only he can do that. What I can do is listen and then ask the question, which puts the next step back into his court and helps him visualize what he would like to see happen. Sometimes things fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Here are the main tips from the article and you can click the link to read more detail.

How to Help Your Young Adult When They’re Struggling

1. This is normal.

In his book, Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult Toward Success and Self-Reliance, Dr. Brad Sachs states, “No amount of education, care or effort is going to inoculate you or your young adult against disappointment and disillusionment, challenge and complexity.”

2. Don’t freak out.

If you freak out, your young adult is more likely to freak out.

3. Don’t catastrophize.

Predicting the worst is never helpful. There’s a good chance your young adult will get through it okay when they’ve experienced a set back. (I personally translate this to FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT not what you don’t want.)

4. Let your spouse or grandma take the call once in awhile. (This one makes a smile… we all need a break sometimes.)

5. Ask questions like, “How can I help?” or “What would you like to see happen next?”

6. Remind yourself: their future is not in your hands.

7. Don’t take it personally if they curse at you.

8. But, do consider it could be about you.

9. Offer reasonable support.

10. Consider if the issue with your young adult is related to substance abuse or mental illness.

For mental health issues, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a good parent resource.

11. Realize you cannot fix everything.

“In education, they have a term, scaffolding, which means supporting kids just enough to get them to where they can learn or do the next thing on their own.”

12. Young adulthood can be a challenging time of life. Most young adults will be fine.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

the barbie nominations debate

the barbie nominations debate

It’s hard to miss the controversy surrounding the Oscar nominations this year in regard to the movie, Barbie. Or should I say lack of nominations for lead actress Margo Robbie and director Greta Gerwig.

Like many others, I was pissed when I heard the news. How is it the lead actress and director don’t receive nominations, yet the movie is nominated for best picture? Barbie was the highest grossing film in 2023, earning over $1.4 billion at the box office, and, no, that doesn’t guarantee an Oscar, but it does say something about its appeal.

I think I speak for most us that we’re happy to see America Ferrera receive her first nomination for best supporting actress and Ryan Gosling best supporting actor… yet, the sting remains… how the lead actress doesn’t receive a nomination as Barbie in the movie Barbie, and neither does the woman director. A movie about the Patriarchy ruling the world seems to carry its very theme into this year’s nominations.

I read up on it, expecting to find articles in line with my thoughts on the issue, but, for the most part, that was not the case. I was encouraged to take a step back and look at it through a larger lens.

To make it a quick read, I highlighted my main takeaways from each article and posted them below. If you want to read the article itself, just click on NPR, PBS or The Hollywood Reporter.

My personal rebuttal to Ann Hornaday’s comments is, “Greta Gerwig’s movie may not be auteurist, but it is rigorous and ambitious work. And, yes, Poor Things is a comedy that made the cut, but it is directed by a man.  (I plan to watch it soon.)

 

 If you want to check out this additional Hollywood Reporter article, click here. It combines articles from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Slate, and others on the topic. Be prepared, some of it is snarky and of the opinion Barbie is lucky to receive attention at all. Other bits of the article make good points, and it’s worth a read if you want more coverage on the topic.

Margo Robbie is delighted about the amount of attention the movie is receiving, and if you’d like to read the Vanity Fair article, where she is interviewed on the topic, click here!

The 96th Oscars are coming up! The program airs live on ABC coast to coast this Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in a new earlier time slot (7-10:30 p.m. ET/4-7:30 p.m. PT), with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for a fourth time.

 

Photo Illustration Courtesy of Warner Bros.

self love, tangible action to increase it

self love, tangible action to increase it

Earlier this week I interviewed a legend.

I’ve listened to his podcast for years, read some of his books, took a few of his creative courses, and saw him speak a few years ago… so when he extended the invitation recently, on his podcast, to reach out to him for an interview, I jumped on it! How could I not? 

Of course it was scary. And because the reason for the interview was to promote his latest book, that meant I had to read the book, take notes, then organize the notes, then set up a time for a Zoom call… all of it my main goal for the first part of January 2024. Happy to say Mission Accomplished! Now it’s a matter of splintering the interview to create valuable content for you, the reader… keep an eye out in February for that content! 

So. All of the above is good news. And something for me to celebrate… but I’m here today to tell you about the harder shit that came along with it. The stuff that twists a knife in your gut and makes you grow.

It can be hard to put ourselves out there.

But I forced myself to reach out this legend for an interview because I knew it was the right next move for me and it pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Of course I was nervous. Of course it was difficult because it was my first interview via Zoom and with someone I respect and adore. I had notes, yet I was doing my best to “not try too hard.” I wanted to be in the flow. Needless to say, I came away from the experience with a new respect for people who interview others and make it look easy on a consistent basis.

I felt good when the call ended. I’d done a good job.

B-

Which isn’t bad considering it was my first time interviewing someone I respect and adore, live.

But the next day was a lot harder…

It’s interesting because I’m the only adult here in the house this week, which gives me space to really live in my own energy and observe what’s moving in and out of my mind.

And in moved the negative self talk…

“You came across airheaded when you said that, you’re technical finesse was amateur, you shouldn’t have worn your glasses— they made your eyes look too big…”

But yesterday, for the first time, I was able to take a step back, as the negative self talk began to come into my mind, and I was able to observe it while feeling the pain from it.

I went for a walk, feeling the pain, and realized, yes, this is why it’s been hard for me to put myself out there. Because underlying, there’s been a voice in me that hasn’t had my own back. Because, while growing up, I wasn’t given a lot of support when I expressed different ways of seeing things. An unfortunate learned behavior.

Part of coming into our own is laying aside what’s held us back and continuing on our paths.

I haven’t let my past hold me back for quite awhile now. I’ve been writing and expressing things the way I see them. But yet, sometimes not without flighty, pestering thoughts over how I’ll be perceived, as much as I try to let that go. The bottom line here is, would I rather have artificial love, being someone I’m not, or real love, from myself and those who know the real me?

So yesterday, my growth was in observing the negative self talk but not believing it. Negative self talk, the culprit that’s held me back, and, instead of believing those thoughts, I had the chance to observe them and pick new ones:

“I’m proud of myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am here for me always. I have my own back. This was another step in my evolution…”

Really put it into practice, not just writing about it or reading it on the page.

By the time my head hit the pillow last night, I had my own back again. And today I’ll write the things I can improve on for next time, with constructive self-love energy.

I went through the valley of negative thoughts and came through it without abandoning myself! Finally!

That’s why we step out of our comfort zones. Because afterward, it may be difficult to work through the negative self talk, but it’s in stepping back from it, not accepting it, and seeing how it’s held us back in the past, that it then becomes just a CONCEPT— something we can categorize as negative thoughts that aren’t true, and we can dismiss them, wrap our arms around ourselves, and say, “Good job!”

Yesterday I re-listened (for the third time) to this episode with guest Tracee Ellis Ross on We Can Do Hard Things, as a way of being there for myself. Truly healing. That’s why it’s today’s resource.

You can also find this podcast on Spotify or here.