Here on Solo-ish, we love a good ghost story. Not because we condone such careless behavior — never! — but because, unfortunately, so many of us singles can relate.
There are the common ghosts, when someone you’ve been dating casually vanishes all of a sudden. Then are those rare, more shocking ghosts who, after years of living together, pick up and move out without a word to their long-term partner. The ghosts who attempt to reenter your lives with a simple, “Hey, stranger, long time no talk,” those are zombies.
So what do you call it when someone doesn’t quite disappear after ghosting, but lingers in your social media presence, liking your Facebook posts, or watching your Instagram or Snapchat stories? That, in today’s dating vocabulary, is what it means to be haunted.
Cosmopolitan magazine defines haunting as “a ghost from a previous relationship (or fling) that somehow got stuck in your online realm. They show up to spook you without any warning and, because they come and go when they please, the only way to get rid of them is to wait until they decide to go haunt someone else. There’s no ghostbusters for a haunted ex.”
Cosmo does not recommend confronting your ghost to banish them. “Just like you’d look insane if you stood outside your house yelling at invisible ghosts to leave it alone, you’d look equally insane if you called a relationship ghost out for simply viewing your social stories. Acknowledging you’re being haunted only validates the ghost and makes it stronger,” Hannah Smothers advises in her story.
In an article on Bustle, relationship coach Chris Armstrong identified three reasons a ghost might haunt an ex. First, the ghost might still be “infatuated” with the person they’re haunting; “it eats at them that things are over and they must stay connected in their own way,” Armstrong said. Second, they might do it to have their cake and eat it, too — to be free from the relationship but not want their ex to be with (or be thinking of) anyone else. Third, the ghost may like the “attention and annoyance” that haunting can bring.
EHarmony’s advice blog goes one step further, calling haunting a form of stalking. “It’s not just lingering in your digital presence as an observer, it’s making sure that you know they’re watching you,” Verity Hogan writes on the dating site’s blog.
How do you kick a haunting ghost out of your life? Dating experts suggest ignoring a ghosting over engaging. Ignore them, unfollow or unfriend them, take a digital detox. Or, if all else fails, light some candles and cast a spell.