What is Breadcrumbing in Marriage & Premarital Relationships?

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What is Breadcrumbing in Marriage & Premarital Relationships

No matter how much you hold on to “crumbs,” it can never be enough. Not unless you’re great at settling for less.

The same goes for someone who gives you attention for a limited amount of time and then disappears. In such situations, you might be left at a point where you try everything possible just for that person to see your worth.

If you’re dating someone who isn’t putting in as much effort as you are and doesn’t want to be exclusive with you, hence putting you in that confused bubble, then what you’re experiencing is called breadcrumbing.

Breadcrumbing happens most frequently in dating, especially in “the talking phase.” But how did we get into discussing breadcrumbing in marriage?

What is Breadcrumbing?

The word “breadcrumbing” comes from the old German fairytale “Hansel and Gretel,” where kids leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way back home.

In the relationship context, breadcrumbing is when a potential romantic partner gives you “crumbs” of attention to keep you for themselves on the side, but they’re actually not interested in taking whatever you have with them to the next level.

A newly wed couple eating a bread as a tradition
A newly wed couple eating a bread as a tradition

Most people who breadcrumb do it over digital channels (social media, dating apps), and they do it in such a way that you’re invested in the relationship, thus enabling you to pursue them and give excuses for why they’re giving you the bare minimum.

If you’re in this situation, you’re sadly being breadcrumbed, and you might never get a full loaf of attention from this person.

It can be more difficult if you’ve gotten too deep—investing your time and emotions—but here’s another thing: it can’t be too late to protect yourself and walk away from that person.

Signs you’re being breadcrumbed

So you’re going out with someone new. What are some of the signs that you’re being breadcrumbed?

They never have an actual conversation with you

People who breadcrumb never try knowing who you are, and even when they try, their conversations with you either have a flirty undertone or never extend beyond the surface level. (things anyone could know about you)

Note that when you want to get deep with them, they always make excuses for not being ready to talk about that part of their lives or brush it under the rug by talking about something else.

That’s the thing about breadcrumbers; they’re not ready to commit to you, but they’re up to getting physical with you.

They’re only in your DMs when they need you

This person might have gone off for a long time, claiming to be busy or that something went wrong in their lives, but you suddenly get a text from them, and now they want to talk.

As someone who is already invested in them, you might want to listen to what happened to them, but the sad truth about all of this is that they’re just using you.

They might be your ride or die for days (even weeks) because you’re there for them as their emotional support, but once they’re out of that phase, they’re gone until they need you again.

They never meet you halfway

If someone is interested in you, they will be your support system, and you won’t need to complain about anything. After all, they want you, so they would do everything to show it.

Say you’re always making phone calls, reaching out to that person, and making all the plans while they do nothing. It’s because they could care less about you or the relationship.

They’re okay with the least they can do. They don’t feel the need to make an effort just to keep you by their side because they’re not really into you. 

Sending nighttime texts is their forte

A man texting his girlfriend to spend the night in his house
A man texting his girlfriend to spend the night in his house

You know those people who never send you texts in the morning or afternoon, but then you get one at night?

At first, they won’t make it clear that what they want is a booty call, but eventually, their words and actions will show you all they want is for you to fulfill their needs. What you can do with this person is ignore their texts and give them a reply the next day.

Doing this more than once or twice will send a clear signal that you two are not on the same page.

They never make plans with you

You’ve been talking to this person for weeks, and you want an actual date with them. They also seem interested, so you make plans for where and when, only for them to cancel at the last minute. 

The funny thing about breadcrumbers is that some will make plans to ensure you have a nice time, but that doesn’t stop them from giving you a cold shoulder the next day.

Once the date is over, they disappear, and you fall back into your normal routine of not talking to each other again until the time is right for them. 

Gaslighting or staying the way they are is a part of their game plan

If you’re dealing with a narcissist and you call them out on their behavior, they might gaslight you, and this is much worse than breadcrumbing.

Gaslighting, usually a form of emotional abuse, is when someone tries to make you doubt your reality, and if anyone does this to you, then you would be needing professional help.

Another thing is that sometimes they listen and might even tell you where they stand with you, but here’s the thing: some people will never change, so even when they pretend to be what you want for a while, they’ll still revert to their old ways.

Breadcrumbing in marriage

People breadcrumb for a variety of reasons, but—despite other problems—people rarely experience breadcrumbing in their marriage because they’re already in a committed relationship with their spouse. 

However, if you’re dating someone who is married and you are oblivious to that fact, then this can be one of their reasons to breadcrumb you. Initially, you can’t get all his attention because he’s legally married to someone else, and that can even hurt more when you find out.

To round this up, breadcrumbing is a nasty situation, and you should do everything to get out of it.

Why married people breadcrumb

Why married people breadcrumb
Why married people breadcrumb

1). They don’t want a commitment with you

This person has someone they’re married to and is just looking for a little extra on the side, so you’re just someone who’s there as they keep dealing with issues in their marriage.

2). Ego Boost 

Most people love the fact that someone is paying attention to them, and in some way, that gives them a sense of importance. 

The fact that you’re the one pursuing them inflates their ego and makes them feel like they’re the prize. 

3). You’re an option to them

To married people, you’re their plan B in case the first one doesn’t work out. They might also be dealing with a lot in their marriage, thus needing a break, and if you can provide them with what they need during that period, then that’s enough for them.

4). They’re emotionally unavailable 

In the case of their spouse cheating on them, that means they can’t connect with you because they’re trying to wrap their heads around the situation.

But at the same time, they want to avoid feelings of loneliness or getting hurt, which is why they turn hot and cold when it’s time to take things seriously.

How to handle breadcrumbing

Ask yourself what you want

If you’re okay with the crumbs they hand out because you aren’t looking for anything too serious, then your decision might be to stay.

However, if you want someone who connects with you on a deeper level, pursues you, and is always going to be there, then it’s time to communicate your needs to them.

Talk to them about it

If someone you’ve been talking to has been paying you half attention, then it’s time for you to have that conversation with them.

Ask them what they want from you, and make sure you assure them that you can handle the truth because they might also be trying to protect your feelings. 

In the end, ensure that there’s common ground. 


To recap: breadcrumbing is an act of leading someone on without any intention of staying in a truly committed relationship with them.

Note that someone who still gives you crumbs after you’ve made what you want clear doesn’t deserve you.

In any case, be prepared to always protect yourself, and if you take anything away from this, let it be this: date multiple people so nobody even has a chance to breadcrumb you.

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Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.