Eating in the modern age is a minefield, as we are constantly reminded. When you’re not a ghost, you’re a zombie, or maybe orbiting, or maybe even a fished kitten? Either way, it can be dark in modern court purgatory.
Which brings us to “haunting,” not a new dating trend, but a rising trend. Haunting is not, as the name suggests, something out of an Edgar Allen Poe novel, it refers to the behavior when a person who has ghosted you continues to “haunt” you or keep an eye out about you via social networks, without making direct contact.
This can take the form of watching all of your Instagram stories, even being the first person to constantly engage with them, or liking your posts occasionally – but never, ever, making direct contact with you or respond to your messages. Sound familiar? Weird, right?
Well, it seems like this kind of behavior is becoming mainstream in the dating game. Talk to In the style magazine, Melissa Hobley, OkCupid’s chief marketing officer, defined haunting as exchanges that involve “no meaningful interaction, just a lingering presence.”
The trend has been around for a while, but has become more troublesome since the pandemic, where our inability to interact with people IRL, has many of us fantasizing, and subsequently stalking our exes’ every move.
The problem with haunting is that it often gives people who have been ghosted or broken up false hope that maybe their ex is unknowingly reaching out. After all, if someone doesn’t like you, why does he want to know what you’re eating for dinner? (ramen by the way).
We spoke to an award-winning dating and relationship coach Kate Mansfield to get to the bottom of this confusing behavior. If someone is “orbiting” you or keeping tabs on your social media “it just means they like you,” she explains, “and maybe they’re physically attracted to you and love your content”.
But, warns Mansfield, that does NOT mean they want anything serious from you. “Unless someone wants to engage with you in real life and get things done, it means nothing beyond a very slight interest.”
The algorithm can also upset our perception of reality: “Keep in mind that the algorithm is also responsible for showing your content to people who view it often, or have done so in the past, so it is not not always true that the person is looking for you go out.
Why then, do people who want to keep an eye on you ghost you? Mansfield explains that it’s unhealthy and impossible to “understand” the reasoning behind being ghosted, but they may have encountered someone else, a lack of connection or interest or even are depressed and struggling with life in general. “Whatever the reason,” she says, “don’t chase someone who doesn’t reciprocate, it will never make you happy or fulfill you.”
Instead, “try to be grateful for every person who ghosts you; they don’t waste your time anymore and you are free to find someone who can present themselves fully.
If you’re haunted right now, the best way to get rid of any confusion or disappointment is to block them out (obviously). Out of sight out of mind is the best approach, says Mansfield, who suggests that instead of focusing on someone giving you crumbs, redirect your energy to changing your own relationship patterns.
“When you stop volunteering to be the target of toxic people and behaviors, you will see a sea change for the better. It has to start with you. Be the person you want to attract, have high standards for yourself, value your time and energy and don’t give it to people who don’t give it equally.
There you go, it’s time to exorcise all the creepy ghouls from your diet, and do it, honey.