What Does Breadcrumbing Mean?

In short, breadcrumbing is leading someone on. Here is how to notice the signs of breadcrumbing and why someone might do it.

February 4, 2021

In short, breadcrumbing is leading someone on. Here is how to notice the signs of breadcrumbing and why someone might do it.

By now, you’ve likely heard of the terms “gaslighting” and “ghosting.” These are dating terms that have entered the mainstream lexicon thanks to the popularity of dating apps like Bumble and Hinge.

Another term that’s been making the rounds lately is “breadcrumbing.” But even if you don’t know what breadcrumbing is, you may very well be experiencing it in your own relationship. Like gaslighting and ghosting, breadcrumbing is another way for people to mess with their romantic partners.

If the term breadcrumbing makes you immediately think of Hansel and Gretel, then you’re already on the right track. So keep on reading and we’ll walk you through what breadcrumbing is, its classic signs, and what actions you should take if you’re being breadcrumbed.

What Is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is the act of sending out flirtation but non-commital social signs. You’re essentially leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that go nowhere. These breadcrumbs are usually left via online channels, such as apps, text messages, and forums.

Breadcrumbing allows you to keep someone interested in you, even if you have no intention of becoming romantically involved with them. It’s an emotionally manipulative tactic that’s meant to make someone dependent on you.

It’s the modern way of being lead-on.

To be clear, while some people might be intentionally breadcrumbing you, there are many people who are likely just not completely conscious of the effects of their actions.

The Signs of Breadcrumbing

If you’re unsure if someone might be breadcrumbing you, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below are some of the most common signs that someone is leading you on.

1. They Blow Hot and Cold

A person who is breadcrumbing you likely won’t message you consistently. You might message each other all day and then you won’t hear from them for a few days or even weeks.

However, a breadcrumber will likely message you just when you start to forget about them and move on. And then the inconsistent texting cycle happens all over again.

2. Their Messages Are Ambiguous

This person doesn’t like to be specific and they are always noncommittal. They will suggest that you two see each other “soon” but they’ll never actually make concrete plans.

These people usually phrase things in a way to give you hope but without actually committing themselves to anything.

3. They Throw Breadcrumbs at You Through Different Platforms

Maybe the breadcrumber will ignore your Facebook message but they’ll like your latest tweet or you’ll see that they’ve watched your Instagram story. This will allow them to stay on your radar without putting in much effort.

4. They Don’t Make You Feel Good About Yourself

When you finally do get a message from this person, your heart might skip a beat and you’ll feel a rush of excitement. However, it won’t really make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Even if you feel good when this person is actually sending you messages, that feeling wears off soon and will be replaced with worry that you won’t hear from them again.

This person only compliments you to keep you interested but they’re not actually interested in boosting your self-esteem.

5. They’re Only Interested in Sex

If you finally do get to see this person and things quickly get physical between the two of you, then that’s a red flag. A person who breadcrumbs you isn’t interested in you as a person. They just want someone who’s going to satisfy their needs.

6. They’re in a Relationship

If this person is in a relationship, then they’re likely just after the attention. Be very cautious if someone says that they’re thinking about leaving their current partner for you.

The Reasoning

When a person engages in breadcrumbing, it’s usually because their self-esteem is correlated to how much attention they’re given by other people. This is probably someone who struggles with being alone. They need someone to wait on “standby” to boost their ego while they wait for their true soulmate to come along.

The more interest they’re able to get from the other person, the better the breadcrumber will feel about themselves. They might not feel confident or comfortable unless they’re getting constant reassurance from others that they’re valuable or worthy.

A breadcrumber will likely want you to compliment them and for you to listen to their issues. However, they won’t have any interest in hearing about your personal life.

These people tend to have narcissistic personality traits and like to play games. They don’t feel guilty about manipulating others. In fact, they’ll likely plead ignorance and claim that they’re just having fun and aren’t causing any harm.

What to Do If You’re Being Breadcrumbed

You might be in denial if you’re being breadcrumbed or holding out hope that this person will eventually follow through. And many people who do realize that they’re being breadcrumbed still engage with the other person even though they know they shouldn’t.

The best solution to this problem is to work on yourself. You should focus on augmenting your self-esteem onto activities that you excel at and by treating yourself with compassion and kindness.

Therapy can be another helpful tool. In therapy, you’ll be able to get at the root of why you’re engaging in this kind of behavior and you’ll be able to work on the parts of yourself that feel insecure or neglected.

The Importance of Knowing About Breadcrumbing

In today’s technologically-centered world, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. This, along with the unrealistic standards set by social media posts and other factors, can lead people to engage in dependent relationships and do things like breadcrumbing, gaslighting, and ghosting. By knowing what breadcrumbing is and why people do it, you’ll be better suited to avoid it and foster fruitful and healthy relationships.

If you’re interested in learning the skills and insights that you need in order to heal and thrive, then contact us today and see what we can do for you!


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