Breadcrumbing, A Warning

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There is a phenomenon popular amongst dating vocabularies, along with ghosting, cat-fishing, and others. It’s called Breadcrumbing. What was it? and why is it a nuisance in our life, particularly for those with introverted personalities.

Let’s go and have a look at the definition first. Not only it is a subtle form of emotional abuse, breadcrumbing can have several motives that lie beneath it. According to Macmillan dictionary (Macmillan English Dictionary, 2017), Breadcrumbing is a sporadic move on sending messages which implies to the receiver that you are interested. While in fact you have very little interest or even none at all for any kind of relationship or further acquaintance. The word breadcrumbing originated from the children’s folk story of “Hansel and Gretel”. The children leave out bread crumbs for someone to find traces of them.

Online dating apps, social media platforms, and another set of texting became their ammunition to launch their sweet trails of mix-messages. A love story set, and tease, to a never-ending feeling of unsatisfied. The effect of the first phase having a crush, a portrayal of someone suddenly putting out caring messages or simply catching up all of the sudden leave their victims second-guessing by the time they disappear. Breadcrumbing has an on-off switch that only the perpetrator knows how and when to end it. It is manipulative behavior that burdens no guilt for the breadcrumbers.

Why would anyone want to do breadcrumbing?

There are so many reasons why someone loves leading on their target to a certain “make-believe” about how they perceived others.

  • The center of attention

Some individuals possess the fondness of being the center of attention. To get it, breadcrumbers have to put the bait in first. Impressing people by bombarding them with thoughtful words the second they met you is one of the ways to steal your attention. Being likable, or even lovable is the core of getting enough shower of attention they would need in their life, instantly.

  • The freedom of being in a non-committal relationship

Fooling around without having to be obliged to any kind of commitment is a delicious treat every breadcumbers are aiming for. Either they are frightened about being in a commitment, or their plates are already full with drama they invented themselves.

  • Keeping back-up as much as possible

Having as much as people prioritized and supported your need as much as possible is one of their hidden agendas. So you are not the only person receiving this kind of treatment, several other people have also experienced the unresolved matter. The good news is if they are on the same circle as you, it will make it fast and easy to clear up the mess puzzling around in your head.

To be fair, It doesn’t matter what are their reasons or background, it is never okay to leave people hanging without proceeding or following through with words that have been said. Toying around with people’s feelings just to get comfort out of it signaled that this person should not be around in your life anymore.

What’s Next?

Letting go of someone who made you feel good at some moments, is easier when they are caught in the act earlier. When you start to realize one or two red flags of their behaviors on first-time encounters, it is simply a walk in the park to ditch them because minimum feelings were involved. Here are a few signs you can take notes from it :

1. They act as if they know a lot about you

Being positive in a conversation is highly encouraging, but when they exaggerate a perception about you falsely wrapped as a reassuring statement, is something we need to be more aware of. Compliments that seem way out of reality, or a positive feedback that seems to force its way. All for the sake to make you feel good about yourself without knowing much of your background story is the shortcut to smooth breadcrumbing.

2. Inconsistencies in their messages

One day they say they missed you, but remained unable to be contacted days after. They send you words on how comfortable they are around you, but can’t seem to find any available time for a meet-up. Recurring inconsistencies like these aren’t mix-signals, they are the signal of breadcrumbing.

3. They keep their privacy

They seem to be close to you, but you don’t know a single thing about them, let alone their stuff. There is a hesitation and end up disappearing or leaving the conversation if you asked them about their real life. Another method they often use is by answering your questions regarding their privacy with a vague notion. When getting to know them is a dead-end, or they didn’t open up to you as much as they are luring you for false intimacy happened, run as fast as you can.

4. You feel terrible after contacting them

It’s not that we are always looking for deep conversations. Some people prefer light talk and jokes over seriousness. Not everyone is ready to be fragile at any time to even the perfect stranger. But when you come to this stage of knowing the person for a certain time, and you only receive a booty call, flirtatious text, or something they need you to do at odd times, it is the cause of why you feel used afterwards. Feeling slightly regretful but do not know where it came from, is a sign that they’re not being true to you. It’s time to move on and catch another bus.

5. They are the initiator of the contact

Part of the thrilling experience of communicating with your object of interest is when they text you first or call you. On breadcrumbing scenes, they will text you first but then that’s all. If you initiated to text them at another time, the impossible-slow response is probably what you are going to get. If they feel like you come on to them a little aggressive, prepared to be ghosted for a long period, for breadcrumbers cue to leave is when a distance is failed to be made.


The exhilarating feeling of someone making a move on you, or making you feel wanted and worthy is powerful. Breadcrumbing has that effect. Unfortunately, most of them are fake and unintended. A manipulative way to charmed people into their arms and nothing ever benefiting in the long run. Unreliable but fun is not exactly what you will be needing if you want a good commitment. Let that be friendship, a love relationship, or at least something that has a good give and take.


Škof, E. (2022). Red Image [Canon, EOS M50].

Macmillan English Dictionary. (2017). BREADCRUMBING (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary.

Author: Fraya

A writer and entrepreneur with profound interest in humankind research and insights. An avid coffee drinker and book hoarder. Hours and days spent in Jakarta.


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