'Breadcrumbing': what it is, how to detect it and why you should avoid this type of toxic relationship

We know that using English terms to define new (or not so new) realities can be burdensome.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 05:49
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'Breadcrumbing': what it is, how to detect it and why you should avoid this type of toxic relationship

We know that using English terms to define new (or not so new) realities can be burdensome. But in the world of relationships and emotional responsibility, most toxic behaviors and behaviors are currently known by names in this language. In this same section we explain what love bombing is. Now we address another type of unequal and destructive relationship: breadcrumbing.

This expression literally means to leave breadcrumbs. If in the story of Hansel and Gretel the signs were used to return home, in breadcrumbing it is about leaving crumbs of attention or affection to the other person without behind it there is a real commitment or the intention of consolidating the relationship. And also, avoid talking about the topic.

In the book Let it be good love. Why emotional responsibility is key in your relationships, psychologist Marta Martínez Novoa defines the phenomenon like this: “Moments in which an ex-partner, relationship or special person sends you small signs of attention or supposed affection, implying that the relationship "It is moving forward with prospects of becoming stable, with future plans and common projection, when in reality it has no real interest or intention to build this commitment."

These intermittent crumbs of esteem make the other person believe that the relationship is maintained and has a future. But the reality is that the person doing breadcrumbing does not want to commit and is clear that the relationship will not end up being consolidated.

As Martínez Novoa explains, “breadcrumbing generates what in psychology is called intermittent reinforcement” and can cause anguish, frustration and a feeling of emptiness when these crumbs of affection disappear. Furthermore, this creates addiction to a relationship that is clearly “dysfunctional and unbalanced.” Waiting for the other person to give him bits of attention and “signs of real stability,” the victim of breadcrumbing often doesn't realize what is happening and never gets around to clarifying “what are we?”

What the person who leaves crumbs of affection is looking for is “to have the other person close, to enlarge their ego or to cover an emotional void,” among other reasons. His goal is to keep the other close, hooked on an on-again, off-again relationship that he knows is not really going anywhere.

Marta Martínez Novoa details four specific channels that can be warning signs of a case of breadcrumbing.

This article was originally published on RAC1.