This morning a friend shared an article about “Breadcrumbing”.
See www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/202202/5-signs-breadcrumbing-in-relationship for original article by Preston Ni.
It is an excellent piece that focuses on how a narcissist, manipulator or other self-absorbed type engages beautifully with their love interest/partner/spouse/friend when they need or want something from them, and then withdraw back to their self-absorbed uncaring self once they’ve had their need met.
It explained how the partner is affected – knowing constantly that there is potential for a wonderful exchange between them, knowing it can happen at any time and knowing that she/he doesn’t want to miss it when it happens next time, and they wait … The next time only ever happens on the terms of the self-absorbed one, never on the terms of the partner, but they wait because it’s so worth it. Except, in time their perception of self and their worth is deteriorating to the point of virtual disablement. In the eyes of the one they love they only have worth when the other deems them to have worth – for something they want. When one is within this type of relationship it is difficult to be objective, and to be strong enough to make a choice to cut ties and get out of reach of the self-absorbed one. This would require validation from someone external to the situation, and a network of support that can’t fail.
Of course, I can see that this is also what happens in relationships where one is ASD, but I believe there is a fundamental difference. Firstly I have to say that there is no difference for the partner – the effect of only having worth when the other needs or wants something will erode the non-AS partner in the same way that it would erode any partner. But, I believe the difference is that an AS person will have developed the basic skills necessary to make transactions – scripts and behaviours to achieve a purpose – to get what they want and need. Then, like the former example they will retreat back to their self-absorbed, “apparently” uncaring state.
With an AS person, however, this happens because their deficits lie in capacity for relationship and social engagement. They cannot sustain consistent relationship reciprocation as one would tend to see in the “typical” population (not that typical people are shining examples of healthy relationships in many cases, sadly).
But the AS person is just doing what they need to do in order to survive – initiating a transaction that will result in the supply of whatever they want or need – then they revert back to their default position of detached and self-absorbed.
The effect on the partner is devastating – feeling needed and loved and effective for specific needs and wants at random times, and then they’re invisible again, or in some cases an irritant. The relationship can feel beautifully reciprocal … but just for a few moments or for a specific purpose. The transaction is made, and is over … until the next need drives the next transactional exchange. Soul destroying for partners because we stay available, always caring and always ready …