Breadcrumbing: Your Complete Guide

7 min readMar 22, 2024

Breadcrumbing is the act of feigning interest in someone without any real intention to pursue a committed or meaningful relationship.

“The term may sound harmless. However, it is a serious form of manipulation that can hinder a person’s sense of self and well-being” says Mr. Sanjeev Mittal, expert relationship therapist at Holistic Living Wellness Studio.

Hinal was a victim of breadcrumbing. She met Saurabh on Instagram and instantly found common interests and mutual friends. They would text each other all day, and share pictures of their outfits, food, dogs, etc.

Hinal would gush with excitement every time she received a text from Saurabh. A month passed, and she initiated the idea of a meeting. Saurabh agreed readily. However, when the day would come up, he conveniently had an excuse.

This continued for another month. Hinal was confused because, on the one hand, Saurabh would show great interest in her, and on the other, he would seldom show any efforts to meet or take the friendship ahead.

Saurabh was leaving a trail of ‘breadcumbs’ for Hinal. Just enough to keep her hanging on.

After days of emotional frustration and confusion, Hinal decided to block him from everywhere. Sadly, the incident left a scar on her mind. She spent nights overthinking every detail and why he would do something like that to her.

Finally, she found closure. Not from Saurabh, but in therapy.

Common Signs of Breadcrumbing

The relationship therapist at Holistic Living Wellness Studio says, “Identifying the signs of breadcrumbing can be tricky and challenging because initially, it may appear flattering. However, it is important to be clear about your boundaries and wants. Watch out for these common signs of breadcrumbing”

Inconsistent communication: They might send occasional messages or engage with you sporadically, but there’s no consistent pattern to their communication. They may disappear for days or weeks at a time before resurfacing with a casual message.

Lack of commitment: Despite expressing interest or making vague plans to meet up, they consistently fail to follow through or make concrete arrangements. They may keep promising to hang out but never actually set a date.

Mixed signals: Their words and actions don’t align. They might say they’re interested in getting to know you better or that they’re looking for a relationship, but their behavior indicates otherwise.

Focus on superficial interactions: They primarily engage in shallow or surface-level conversations, avoiding deeper topics or meaningful discussions about feelings, values, or future plans.

Limited availability: They always seem to have an excuse for why they can’t meet up or spend more time together. They might claim to be busy with work, family, or other commitments, but their excuses feel repetitive or insincere.

Hot-and-cold behavior: They alternate between showing interest and pulling back, leaving you feeling uncertain about where you stand with them. One moment they’re affectionate and attentive, and the next they’re distant or unresponsive.

Stringing you along: They give you just enough attention to keep you hooked or interested, but they never fully invest in the relationship or make a genuine effort to move it forward.

Ignoring your needs: They prioritize their wants and needs while disregarding yours. They may only reach out when they want something from you, such as validation, attention, or emotional support.

Lack of accountability: When confronted about their behavior or questioned about their intentions, they may deflect, make excuses, or avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Reasons for Breadcrumbing

Common reasons why people may engage in breadcrumbing:

Avoidance of commitment: Some people fear commitment or intimacy and use breadcrumbing as a way to maintain emotional distance while still enjoying the benefits of attention and validation from others.

Fear of confrontation: Confronting someone about their true feelings or intentions can be uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing. Breadcrumbing allows individuals to avoid difficult conversations or potential rejection by keeping things vague and non-committal.

Seeking validation: Breadcrumbing can boost the ego and self-esteem of the person doing it, as they receive positive attention and validation from multiple people without having to invest deeply in any one relationship.

Insecurity or low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may engage in breadcrumbing as a way to keep potential partners at arm’s length, believing they don’t deserve or aren’t capable of a genuine, committed relationship.

Fulfilling emotional needs without commitment: Breadcrumbing allows individuals to fulfill their emotional needs, such as companionship, attention, or validation, without fully committing to a relationship or investing significant time and effort.

Fear of missing out (FOMO): In today’s digital age, there’s often a fear of missing out on better opportunities or potential partners. Breadcrumbing enables individuals to keep their options open and maintain connections with multiple people simultaneously.

Manipulation or control: In some cases, breadcrumbing may be a deliberate tactic used by manipulative individuals to keep others emotionally invested and under their control, without offering genuine reciprocity or commitment.

Entertainment or boredom: For some individuals, breadcrumbing may simply be a form of entertainment or a way to pass the time when they’re bored or lonely, without any real intention of developing a meaningful connection

The expert relationship therapist at Holistic Living Wellness Studio says, “Breadcrumbing may not always be intentional. At times, the subconscious fear of commitment may manifest as breadcrumbing. Having said that, it is not justified to engage in any sort of manipulation whether intentional or unintentional. Therefore, it is best to communicate with the other person and let them know how you feel”

Impact of Breadcrumbing

Hinal who was a victim of breadcrumbing describes her experience as horrifying and miserable. She says, “Nobody deserves to spend their nights wondering whether they mean something to someone. It was emotional torture for me. I was desperate for his message, like, or even a comment. I could not recognize myself and needless to say, my self-esteem was down the drain!”

Breadcrumbing in any relationship can have serious repercussions, particularly on your emotional health.

Emotional Turmoil: Breadcrumbing can lead to confusion, frustration, and emotional turmoil for the person being breadcrumbed. They may feel uncertain about the status of the relationship or where they stand with the other person, which can cause anxiety and stress.

Low Self-Esteem: Constantly receiving inconsistent attention or affection from someone can negatively impact one’s self-esteem. The person being breadcrumbed may start to doubt their own worth and value, wondering why they are not receiving more consistent and genuine attention.

Wasted Time and Energy: Breadcrumbing can waste a considerable amount of time and emotional energy for the person on the receiving end. They may invest time and effort into someone who is not genuinely interested in them, which can be draining and ultimately fruitless.

Inability to Move On: Breadcrumbing can keep someone emotionally invested in a relationship that is unlikely to progress. The intermittent reinforcement of attention can make it challenging for the person being breadcrumbed to let go and move on, even when it is clear that the relationship is not going anywhere.

Breakdown of Trust: Breadcrumbing erodes trust in relationships. When someone consistently fails to follow through on their promises or maintain consistent communication, it can damage the trust between them and the person being breadcrumbed, making it difficult to build a genuine connection in the future.

The relationship therapist advises setting boundaries and internally being clear about what you want from that relationship or person. It is important to communicate your feelings. If the other person values you enough, they will attempt to understand or change. If not, then it is best to move out and take care of your health.

Therapy Can Help..

As we embrace the shifting relationship dynamics, let’s open our minds to the concept of therapy as well. Gone are the days when taking therapy was perceived as ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’. It’s the 21st century and we should be way past these stereotypes now.

Breadcrumbing, gaslighting, narcissism, and other forms of emotional abuse can have a serious impact as mentioned above. Therapeutic intervention can equip you with the skills needed to navigate such challenges and build mental resilience.

Therapy gives you a space to be honest about your feelings, expectations, and wants, helping you untangle your thoughts. In therapy, you learn how to set healthy boundaries and build more meaningful relationships with yourself as well as others.

The therapists at Holistic Living Wellness Studio are certified, experienced, and trustworthy. They strictly abide by ethical guidelines and will always prioritize your comfort and well-being.

To learn more about how therapy can help you, take a 10-minute Free consultation with our expert relationship therapist. Call/WhatsApp 91–9321073548 or Click THIS Link to book your session.




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