Why do we feel the need to constantly stoke relationships we have no real interest in developing? / Getty Images/iStockphoto

What’s worse is that it’s something we all do

Just when we thought life as a millennial couldn’t get any worse, we now have to contend with depressing dating moves working their way into our friendships too.

According to Refinery 29, ‘breadcrumbing’, a concept once limited to stringing along a potential booty call is now infiltrating your social circle and what’s worse, is that it’s something we can all be guilty of. 

When it comes to keeping in touch, none of us really believe that a few messages here and there can substitute an IRL natter yet, but we’re all guilty of sending sporadic “Hey, how are you?”’s without any real intention to follow through.

Gemma, 31, from York, told The Independent, “People think breadcrumbing is confined to romantic relationships but it's definitely a thing in friend groups.

“You can't like all of your friends the same and I get that, but there are people who drop a little text as a 'breadcrumb' every few months just to stay on your radar.

“I do sometimes think it'd be easier and more honest to just give up trying to stay friends with someone if you can only be bothered to ping them a message once every few weeks.”

Paul, 29, from Newcastle, agreed adding, “There are at least three people in my friend network who put in the minimum effort possible to keep the friendship alive.

“When we're together it's great, and just like old times. But in between it's sporadic texts weeks apart, and it feels like it's just to keep the flame alive for when they're stuck for someone to go on a night out with.”

Thanks to the rise in social media, our friendship circles have inevitably increased but, why do we feel the need to constantly stoke relationships we have no real interest in developing?

Dr Max Blumberg, psychology researcher at Goldsmiths University of London says a compulsion to constantly feel needed is to blame.

“It’s low self-esteem. It’s ‘I need my self-esteem stroked by people wanting to follow up and see me,’” he told Refinery 29.

But he warns that this egotistical approach to relationships will never end well, warning, “The one with the lower self-esteem is going to feel worse if the other person doesn’t come back to them because they need those ‘strokes’ from the other person to convince them that they are worthwhile.”

Jodie Cook, a consultant from JC Social Media Marketing agrees, “What if we, as social media addicts, see all our extended friendships and networks as routes to win likes?” she adds. 

“We feel we need to keep stoking the fire, we need to keep breadcrumbing, offering false offers of friendships to secure a selfish goal.” 

While instant messaging is ideal for staying in touch with friends and family abroad, you do need to ask yourself why, when it comes to friends living in the same town or city, you resort to fleeting memos rather than face-to-face interaction.

Are you actually bothered about that person or are they just another added stress in your life?

Be honest with yourself and, if it is genuine revert to old-school interactions like, you know, actually meeting up with someone and building a friendship based on mutual interests and camaraderie rather than seeing them as a networking opportunity. 

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