Breadcrumbing is the cowards’ way to avoid deep inner work. It is when people ‘test the waters' and ‘check up on an ex’ to see if the ex still loves them.
When giving breadcrumbs, the narcissist might still be in the devalue phase, not ready to discard you yet. Because it is still an annoyance to them and they still find benefits in keeping you close by.
The small signs of affection or attention will seem robotic the longer they continue, and you must be aware because they might start using the breadcrumbs to torture you more.
The intention behind this is most often to make sure an ex is still a supply for validation and approval during times when life sucks for the one doing the breadcrumbing. A desperate and pathetic way to rebuild their ego and pride.
Here is how narcissists use this:
Flirting and being attentive in person but never making a move to hang out again.
Saying or sending nice words that make you keep up the hope of a reconciliation but cutting all contact and leaving you wondering for a few more months afterwards.
Being unclear and wishy washy about their intentions and going hot and cold on you.
Saying things like ‘lets meet up in 2 months to see where we are at emotionally’.
Never responding to requests to spend time together or always cancelling dates.
Liking your social media posts months after they left you and giving you the impression they still love you.
Here’s how you prevent breadcrumbing from happening to you:
Build stronger boundaries. Because the truth is people can only breadcrumb you when you allow it to happen. Make a clear decision to cut the ties. After all, you teach people how they are supposed to treat you, and especially immature ones won't respect you from the get-go. They will only respect you once you respect yourself and once they see that treating you like shit has consequences, that you have choices and value yourself enough to not put your life on hold for someone who feels iffy about you.
Anything other than a yes or a ‘hell yeah’ is a no. We, humans, make decisions very fast and it doesn’t take us long to know and be certain of how someone else feels about us. Most of the time, people will show you who they are and how they feel about you during the first couple of interactions through their actions and behaviors. So always believe someone's actions more than their words. Don’t allow a narcissist's words or nice gestures to manipulate you. If someone wants to be a part of your life, they will be. If someone loves you, they will show and express that clearly through actions. If someone wants to be with you, they will be with you.
Sometimes, giving breadcrumbs is just enough to make you hooked. To keep you in their sight when they still wish it.