5 Signs It’s Breadcrumbing, Not Love

With the advent of social media and online platforms, new dating behaviors have emerged, and one of the most deceptive ones is breadcrumbing. Psychologist Dr. Dana McNeil defines breadcrumbing as the act of leading someone on with sporadic attention, mixed signals, and superficial engagement, all while keeping them hopeful for a deeper connection. 

With manipulative dating tactics like this, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of breadcrumbing to protect yourself from emotional manipulation and invest your time in genuine connections. With that said, let’s explore several signs that indicate you may be experiencing breadcrumbing rather than genuine love, based on insights from experts.

An Uncertain Situationship

Do you often find yourself caught in a web of uncertainty, unsure of the exact nature or status of your relationship with that special someone? If that sounds familiar, chances are you’re being breadcrumbed. Because according to Dr. Zarrabi, when the person you’re dating likes you, it should be clear. But if they don’t, you’ll probably just feel confused and uncertain. They don’t communicate their intentions clearly or label your relationship as a way of keeping you on their hook.

Inconsistent Communication

According to Dr. Zarrabi, one of the key characteristics of breadcrumbing is irregular and inconsistent communication. You may find that the person you’re interested in initiates contact sporadically, with long periods of silence in between. They are rarely consistent with how fast and how often they respond, making you uncertain of when you’ll hear from them. This inconsistency gives them the upperhand in the relationship and keeps you on their hook without any real commitment on their part.

Lack of Future Planning

A person who is genuinely interested in building a meaningful relationship will invest time and effort into planning a future together. On the other hand, someone who’s only trying to breadcrumb you will avoid discussing future plans or commitments, explains Dr. Zarrabi. They usually change the subject when you bring up the topic of a long-term relationship or give vague responses that never materialize into concrete plans. This lack of commitment or willingness to discuss the future is a clear indication that they are not looking for genuine love but only want to string you along. 

No Personal Investment

A person who’s truly interested in pursuing something romantic with you will invest in the relationship, unlike someone who only wants to breadcrumb. This person may show superficial interest in your life but rarely delves deeper into understanding your thoughts, dreams, or fears. They avoid sharing significant aspects of their own life and don’t introduce you to their friends and family. According to psychologist Dr. Loren Soeiro, breadcrumbers typically keep the relationship on a superficial level to prevent any real emotional intimacy from developing.

Hot and Cold Behavior

Another sign of breadcrumbing is hot-and-cold behavior, says professor of psychology at California State University, Kelly Campbell. This means that this person may shower you with affection, compliments, and attention, making you believe that there is potential for a deep connection. But then become cold and distant the next, even ignoring you altogether. This game playing style of dating can be emotionally draining, but Campbell assures us that people who genuinely care about us are consistent in their interest and effort in the relationship. 

Temporary Change

According to psychologist Dr. Dana McNeil, people who breadcrumb may change when we call them out on their behavior, but don’t be fooled. Dr. McNeil says that they will often try to be more open, attentive, and vulnerable in the relationship in an effort to draw you back in, only to do it all over again once you forgive them. It’s crucial to recognize this pattern and understand that their temporary change is a manipulation tactic, not a genuine transformation. 

It’s crucial to be aware of the signs of breadcrumbing to protect yourself from emotional manipulation and wasted time. While breadcrumbing can leave you disheartened and disillusioned, always keep in mind that a healthy relationship should be based on open communication and mutual respect. Don’t settle for someone who only gives you sporadic attention while keeping you hanging on to false promises. Invest your time and emotions in those who reciprocate your feelings and are willing to build a genuine connection.

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