Narcissists breadcrumb you to get you hooked and to be in control. Sometimes narcissists breadcrumb you to keep you as an option as well. Breadcrumbing itself isn’t always narcissistic, but it does seem to be especially common with narcissists.

In this brief post we’ll have a look at what breadcrumbing is and why the narcissist uses it.

As always, feel free to comment or perhaps share your own experience by leaving a reply at the end of the article.

Let’s dive in.

Breadcrumbing in a nutshell

To breadcrumb someone means to give them crumbs of attention. You can be breadcrumbed at work, by a friend, in a romantic relationship, or in any type of relationship, really.

For the purpose of this post, we are only going to examine the type of breadcrumbing that is done…

  • In a romantic relationship or talking/dating stage
  • By someone who has narcissistic traits
  • Methodically and on purpose

Essentially, when the narcissist breadcrumbs, they deliberately ignore you, your life, and your text messages.

This isn’t ghosting — occasionally, they will talk to you, or send you a text, or give you attention; only crumbs of it though, and only to keep you interested.

This can happen at any stage and in any type of romantic relationship. For example, the narcissist could breadcrumb you after a period of love bombing.

Or, they may say that they like you and would love to be in a relationship with you, but then breadcrumb you before the actual relationship can even take place.

How the narcissist’s mind works

Narcissists either lack empathy or consciously choose not to empathize with anyone as a way to be less vulnerable.

The narcissist believes that they are some kind of special person who has every right in the world to take advantage of others, even by means of manipulation and/or abuse.

And as mentioned, they are usually pretty good at it. They are also good at sensing whether you can be manipulated or not (e.g. those who struggle with self-imposed guilt are more likely to give in).

The narcissist will beat you at their own game, which is why you should never fight against them or even argue with them, but rather find a way to detach emotionally and then physically.

Common narcissistic traits

  • Obsessive need for attention, even when negative
  • Superiority complex, grandiosity, arrogance
  • Conscious/unconscious lack of empathy/compassion
  • Exploitative, abusive, manipulative behavior
  • Falsity and pretending to be someone they are not

Common narcissist tactics

  • Love bombing. Showering you with compliments, gifts, and attention. The goal is to get you hooked.
  • Idealization. They will tell you you’re the best, but only so they can then hold you to the highest of the highest standards.
  • Gaslighting. That is, making you question your own sanity and/or perception of reality.
  • Silent treatment. They will ignore you, either as a punishment or to show that they are always in control.
  • Playing victim. If anything else fails, then they will try and take advantage of your good nature by begging you.
  • Lies, lies, lies. The narcissist will lie once and see how you react; if you accept the game, then they will lie indefinitely.
  • Conditional love. “I love you, but only if… you are worthy of attention, but only if… I will not treat you with respect unless…”

Why the narcissist breadcrumbs you

1. To get you hooked

Human beings can easily get addicted to random rewards. This is what happens, for example, when you check your new likes on social media, or when you gamble, or play a random game.

The first reason narcissists use breadcrumbing is that unless you are emotionally detached (unlikely, if you like them) then you will get hooked because you will never really know what to expect and when.

2. To look important

It’s a bit like “play hard to get”, only, much worse. Another common reason the narcissist likes to breadcrumb partners or potential partners is that it usually makes them look important.

Anyone who is rarely available, who almost never gives you their time or attention, is usually perceived as better and/or more important even when they are not — it’s just human psychology.

3. To be in control

If it’s the narcissist who decides when you can talk, meet, or connect in any way, then who’s in control? Spoiler alert — definitely them, not you.

Narcissists are terrified of being vulnerable. We all fear vulnerability to a certain extent, but narcissists take it to an extreme. Therefore, they try to take control over everything and anyone, at all costs.

4. To keep you as an option

This could be done by a friend or anyone else, without them showing narcissistic traits, not necessarily anyway. Breadcrumbing can often be a way of keeping someone as an option, as a plan B or C.

Because the narcissist feels they are better than anyone else, they also think it’s perfectly acceptable to give others the illusion of a potential relationship without any type of commitment.

5. To show power

Again: narcissists fear vulnerability and love power and control. On a psychological level, they literally feed off the negative emotions and the energy they suck out of you.

The fifth and last reason breadcrumbing is a narcissistic tactic is that it communicates power, and that if the narcissist’s victim accepts the game, they are destined to lose because they are essentially powerless.

Final thoughts

Narcissists are very good at what they do. This doesn’t mean, however, that anyone can be manipulated by them.

Those who have learned to respect and love themselves, and emotionally detach from anyone who is toxic to them, are basically immune.

Sounds too good to be true? Observe the behavior of those around you. See who is being taken advantage of and who isn’t (by narcissists, or anyone).

You will soon realize that those with a healthy self-esteem seem to be unaffected; narcissists, control freaks etc. seem to magically ignore them. Why?

Because subconsciously they know they cannot feed off their energy. On an energetic level, they cannot be exploited.

So the narcissist ignores them and tries to find another potential victim. The lesson: learn to love yourself, as cliche as it may sound. It really is the key.

Have an amazing day 😉