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Love Bombing Then Breadcrumbing: Who Does It and Why?

If you’ve ever been in a relationship that started blazing hot, only to fizzle to a tepid, inconsistent drip, you may have been a victim of love bombing then breadcrumbing

It’s an infuriating situation that people find themselves in with partners who go cold without warning. So what is it, who does it, and why does it happen? 

We’ll tackle all of that. But first, some quick definitions. 

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is what it sounds like. It describes what happens at the beginning of a new relationship when somebody you just met starts showering you with affection, praise, and attention too quickly. It’s a strategy used by cults to hook prospective members into joining. 

Love bombing can happen in romantic and platonic relationships, but for our purposes today, we’re going to discuss romantic situations. 

What is breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is when someone strings you along in a relationship. They never fully commit to you, but they don’t cut ties either. Instead, they send out emotional breadcrumbs to keep you confused and engaged with them, despite having no intention of getting into a serious relationship with you. 

Again, breadcrumbing can happen in various types of relationships, not just romantic ones, but we’re going to focus on the latter. 

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Love bombing then breadcrumbing

What does love bombing then breadcrumbing look like?

Love bombing then breadcrumbing looks like meeting someone and forming an instant, intense connection with them. They text you frequently and make plans to see you. And it’s great! You seem to share the same interests, and they dote on you, despite having known you a short time. 

Then, out of nowhere, the behavior changes. Sometimes these people love-bomb and then ghost for several days or weeks at a time before popping back up. Other times, they just change. They don’t quite ghost, but they aren’t exactly there either. 

This is where breadcrumbing comes in. 

Suddenly the person who was constantly available is busy and can’t make plans with you anymore. You see them less. When you bring up the behavior change, they brush it off or act like they don’t know what you’re talking about. They pull back, but not completely. 

When someone breadcrumbs you, they will continue to reach out with flirtatious texts or sweet messages. You’ll still see them, but infrequently. Any plans you have with them are made at the last minute.

When you’re face-to-face, you have discussions about the future and other topics that would typically signify taking the next step in a relationship. But then they pull back again and become less available. 

It’s mixed-signal central! And it works, especially after they invested time upfront love-bombing you so that you become emotionally invested in them. 

You never quite know where you stand, and they breadcrumb you just enough to inspire a sense of hope that this phase will pass and you’ll enter into a more steady relationship.

What type of person love bombs then breadcrumbs?

People who love bomb and then breadcrumb are often narcissists or other emotionally manipulative types

Are all breadcrumbers narcissists? Not necessarily. But the behavior itself is very narcissistic. 

Relationship expert Christina at Common Ego says that the primary motivation for people who breadcrumb is to keep you as a backup. In fact, you might not even be the only person they are breadcrumbing, and it’s not uncommon for these types to have multiple backups. 

They may even have a primary relationship or person they go to for attention. They breadcrumb you to have another option waiting for them if they need affection and can’t get it from their usual person. 

These people are experts at giving just enough to keep someone on the hook. However, they will never fully commit. 

Interested in learning more? Here’s a comprehensive video from Christina you might like:

What should you do if this happens to you?

The best advice is to drop them and move on with your life. Easier said than done, I know. You definitely can call the behavior out, but not more than once. The odds are this person is not going to change.   

Love-bombing and breadcrumbing, at their core, are manipulation tactics. This is someone who has employed both against you. There is no room for misunderstanding or good intentions there. They know what they are doing. 

If you confront them and call them out, you leave yourself vulnerable to another round of manipulation. Be prepared for what comes next.

This person will likely double-down on their efforts to keep you emotionally invested, which, on the surface, might even look like an attempt to do right by you. Maybe they start showing up more and repeating behaviors that hooked you during the love-bombing phase of your relationship.

They will pull back again once they think they’ve squashed your rebellion against them. You’re back where you started and no better for it. 

When people show you who they are, believe them. 

If they wanted to be in a committed relationship with you, they would be. And frankly, you deserve to be with someone who is honest about their feelings for you and is emotionally mature enough to give you security and consistency. 

Lean on the solid relationships in your life and find someone to talk to about what you’re going through. Eventually, they’ll give up, and you’ll be free of them and free to be happy – the ultimate goal.

Access should not be a barrier to help.

Soberish is proudly sponsored by BetterHelp. If you have tried (and failed) to find a therapist with the knowledge and background to help you navigate your specific issues, try BetterHelp. Learn more about my counseling journey with BetterHelp or visit their website below.

FAQs on Love Bombing then Breadcrumbing

Is breadcrumbing manipulative?

Yes, breadcrumbing is a form of emotional manipulation designed to string someone along. The breadcrumber is not actually interested in a relationship but pretends to be periodically in order to keep the other person available.

Should you ignore breadcrumbs?

You definitely can ignore breadcrumbs, especially if this behavior has been ongoing. If you have called out the breadcrumber’s behavior in the past and nothing has changed, ignore them.

If you suspect they are stringing you along and you don’t want to be bothered with this person anymore, ignore them. Set clear boundaries and tell them you are not interested in playing games.

Should you call out a breadcrumber?

You can, but you don’t have to! People who breadcrumb are not serious about the relationship. At best, this is a person who isn’t sure what they want and is stringing you along until they figure it out. At worst, they know exactly what they are doing.

If you want to call them out, do it forcefully, and set clear expectations for what you want. But don’t do it more than once. You’ve established what you will and will not tolerate in your relationship. If they can’t meet your expectations (chances are they can’t), then move on.

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One Comment

  1. Breaks crumbing, ghosting, the silent treatment ruined my life. It’s not like we were casually dating we lived together. I loved her dearly and she went so far out of her way to hurt me as deeply as she could, why do they need to be so cruel?? I don’t get it

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