Breadcrumbing and relationships


Breadcrumbing is when a person gives another person just enough time and attention to keep them interested and give false hopes for a greater commitment. It is done to lead someone on or string them along without actually having the intention to take the relationship to the next level. Various manipulation tactics are used in the process which leaves you waiting and wanting more.


While breadcrumbing can occur in other aspects of life, such as social, family, and work, in this article we will only focus on breadcrumbing in romantic relationships.



Some signs of breadcrumbing include:


l  Their words don’t align with their actions.

l  They don’t make or commit to plans.

l  They are reluctant to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

l  It may feel like an emotional roller coaster.

l  There is a lot of uncertainty about where the relationship is going, your value in their life, its future, etc.

l  Microcommunication: It’s neither having proper contact nor blowing someone off completely. They may comment on or like your social media posts, send you texts off and on again, and do the bare minimum to keep you interested and waiting for more. 

l  They may send you small and inconsistent messages to keep you interested by fostering a sense of connection. You may feel seen, heard, and appreciated at that time which could give you a false sense of hope for a greater commitment but would eventually leave you feeling hurt and rejected when they disappear on you for days. 

l  They don’t care to explain their post disappearing on you for long periods of time. 

l  It seems like you are more interested in them than they are. 

l  You feel bad about yourself after spending time with them.



Some potential causes include: 


l  A person may do this to receive validation and improve their self-confidence; essentially to feel better about themselves.

l  They experience discomfort with their own emotions and don’t know how to deal with them. 

l  The person may not be ready to commit to one person but enjoys attention or the idea of a potential relationship. The choice of not being upfront about it is what makes this behavior very problematic and immature.

l  This behavior could be brought on by narcissistic tendencies. 



It can be confusing and painful to be on the receiving end of this. Some people may even choose to rationalize this behavior to avoid facing the fact that the other person doesn’t care about them. This could lead to people settling for less than what they deserve due to self-doubt and low self-confidence post breadcrumbing. 


How to deal with it?


l  Notice and acknowledge signs of breadcrumbing

l  Don’t take it personally. (This behavior speaks more about them than it does about you.)

l  Objectively determine what you are getting out of the relationship.

l  Decide whether or not you want to put up with this behavior.

l  Set clear boundaries and be direct.