What is Breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is a technique used in toxic relationships, in which you are given just enough time, attention, or affection to keep you hooked … but not enough to actually meet your needs.

Sound familiar? See below for some examples:

Infrequent texting: one person in the relationship sends sporadic and brief text messages, often taking a long time to respond or leaving gaps between messages, giving the impression of disinterest or lack of investment.

Cancelling plans: the individual constantly makes plans but frequently cancels them last minute, leaving the other person feeling disappointed and unsure of their commitment.

Occasional flirting: They engage in occasional flirting or romantic gestures, such as compliments, without following through with any substantial actions or commitments.

Keeping options open: The person may keep their dating profile active, continue talking to or dating other people, and make it clear that they are not ready to commit to a monogamous relationship.

Vague future talk: They hint at a future together, discussing plans or ideas for things they could do together, but never solidify those plans to make any concrete steps toward a shared future.

Hot and cold behaviour: The individual alternates between periods of intense interest, showering the other person with attention and affection, and then suddenly withdrawing or becoming distant without apparent reason.

Lack of emotional availability: they avoid deep conversations or discussion emotions, keeping relationships surface-level and preventing any meaningful connection from developing.

Ignoring boundaries: They disregard the other person’s needs or requests for clarity, commitment, or consistent communication, and instead, maintain an ambiguous and uncertain dynamic.

Breadcrumbing can be emotionally damaging, causing confusion, frustration, and a sense of unworthiness for the person being “breadcrumbed.” It’s important to recognise such behaviour and communicate your needs and expectations clearly in a relationship. Don’t be afraid to say what you want and expect.⁠

This article contains original content from The Relationship Room.

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