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What Is Breadcrumbing? How to Spot and Confront It

what is breadcrumbing
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / congerdesign

Breadcrumbing is a hurtful tactic used in the dating world, in order to keep people “on their toes” and interested. You can decide whether to confront your breadcrumber or end the relationship.

Breadcrumbing is one of many ways in which romantic prospects may lead you on. Through occasional flirty texts, plans, Instagram likes and more, breadcrumbers show just enough tiny crumbs of interest to keep you hooked on them. Breadcrumbing involves little effort or follow-through. It’s simply a non-committal way of maintaining a person’s romantic interest and attention. The breadcrumber rarely intends to actually become romantically involved with the person they are breadcrumbing. Rather, they may want attention and validation, someone to be dependent on them, or someone to boost their ego. 

With modern dating, breadcrumbing is even easier through social media and texting. Leading somebody on through breadcrumbing is manipulative, and can be very hurtful and confusing for the person on the receiving end. It’s easy to eat up the small crumbs offered, and become convinced that the breadcrumber really does care about and is interested in you. If you regularly question somebody’s interest, or you feel you’re being led on and that the “talking stage” isn’t going anywhere, you may be being breadcrumbed. 

Identifying Breadcrumbing

What is breadcrumbing, and how can you identify it?
What is breadcrumbing, and how can you identify it?
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Marionthb)

There are several signs to look out for with breadcrumbing. If you are interested in or casually dating somebody who seems less invested in you than you are in them, this is a red flag. Being unclear and confused on where your relationship stands is another sign. Breadcrumbers are unpredictable, inconsistent and can be very hot and cold, so they are difficult to communicate with and get clear answers from. If you can’t get a clear picture of what a person wants from you and your relationship with them, this could be a sign of breadcrumbing. Here are some concrete examples of what exactly breadcrumbing looks like.

  • Slow replies: They forget to reply to your messages for days on end, and then make excuses for why they didn’t respond to you for a week.
  • Social media engagement: They respond to your Instagram stories every now and then, but avoid having more real conversations, keeping the relationship at surface level.
  • Lack of effort: They are flirty whenever they run into you, but don’t care to make an effort to go on a reak date. They may set vague plans, with no effort involved in actually manifesting them. They say “I’d love to do that”, but they are too busy to actually make it happen.
  • No follow-through on plans: When they do make plans with you, they cancel, or simply don’t show up.
  • “Booty calls”: Breadcrumbers are more likely to make plans for sex, but forgo more serious dates.
  • Lack of depth: They don’t show any interest in getting to know you, or sharing details of their life with you. 

Dealing With Breadcrumbers

Decide whether to accept, dump or confront your breadcrumber.
Decide whether to accept, dump or confront your breadcrumber.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / sweetlouise)

Once you’ve identified you’re dealing with a breadcrumber, you have a few options of how to move forward. If you’re not serious about this person, and you’re fine with having a flirty relationship which leads nowhere, then don’t think twice. If, however, you do want more from someone who seems to be breadcrumbing you, it’s best to confront the situation in order to move forward.

  1. Ask yourself if you want to continue this relationship. If you’ve been hurt by the relationship already, it may be best to simply cut contact and forget about them. This is especially true if you already know you feel more strongly about the person than they do about you. If they are clearly messing with you and leading you on, there’s no need to confront them. Rather, distance yourself from this person and look for more sincere people to date in the future. 
  2. If you think there is a potential for change in the breadcrumber, you must communicate with them. It may be that they really do care about you, and they don’t know how their actions are making you feel. Set boundaries with the person you are seeing, and be clear about what you want out of your relationship. This may include regular dates and phone calls. Think about what you need from this person, and give them the chance to fulfill your needs. If the person cares about you, they will do their best to understand your needs. If they just continue leading you on with breadcrumbs, then you can recognize that and move on.
  3. Know what you deserve. Every person deserves love, commitment, honesty, effort and loyalty from the person they are dating. If the person you are seeing continues breadcrumbing you, even after you expressed your concerns, then it’s time for you to prioritize yourself and let them go. End the relationship for the sake of your own well-being, and be careful not to engage with breadcrumbers in the future. 

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