Haunting: the new dating trend that’ll give you nightmares
Are you being plagued by ghosts of dating past? You could be a victim of haunting. Here’s how to deal with the horror and exorcise those exes once and for all
Forget ghosting – haunting is the dating trend you should really be scared of!
If you’re active on social media then you’ll already know that it can be a nightmare when it comes to dating. When you accept someone as a Facebook friend, or they start following you on Instagram or Twitter, you grant them a foothold in your life that it’s hard to shake loose. Unless you block them, they still have access to your life, long after you’ve broken-up.
Haunting is the new term to describe the lingering presence of exes in your digital life. These ghosts from your past – ex-partners or even people that you just went on a couple of dates with – reappear by liking or commenting on your social media feeds. It’s an indirect form of contact that seems harmless enough but it still ensures they get your attention every time that notification pops up on your screen.
Why do people haunt?
There are several reasons why someone might haunt you. If they’re not over you, it’s a way of maintaining a connection that they wouldn’t have otherwise. They may even use it to show that they’re still interested in you in the hopes of rekindling your relationship.
Others have less honourable intentions. Maybe they’ve moved on but want to stay in your life, just in case they change their mind. Or maybe they enjoy the power. They like knowing that every time they like or comment on your posts, you’re forced to think about them again.
Regardless of the ghost’s motivations, this kind of paranormal activity is 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.
Tara is still suffering from haunting, even though it’s been two years since she last saw her ghost. They originally went on a few great dates but he decided that he wasn’t looking for a relationship so things came to a natural conclusion. Both parties unfollowed each other on their respective social accounts and went on with their separate lives – or so Tara thought.
‘I was on a romantic weekend away with my boyfriend and had uploaded a selfie earlier in the day, as well as a few Instagram stories of our travel adventures,’ she explained. ‘I was idly watching it back later in the day when I saw his handle pop up. He still doesn’t follow me but he’s watching me! It’s upsetting; he chose to end things and I’ve moved on – why is he still haunting me?’
How to deal with haunting
It’s hard to know how you should react to being haunted. It can feel wrong to take offence when all they’re doing is liking your public posts or watching a story that you’ve chosen to put out into the world.
Plus, engaging with the ghost gives them exactly what they want. You’re inadvertently acknowledging that their actions have affected you enough that you felt compelled to reach out.
And there’s an argument that haunting can be oddly comforting – especially if you’re not completely over your ex either. ‘There’s a part of me that would be disappointed if my ex stopped following me online,’ Katie confessed. ‘There’s a connection between us, even though we don’t speak anymore. I still think about him more than I’d like to admit, and it’s nice to think that he might feel something too when he sees my posts!’
But in the long run, keeping someone in your life – even if it’s just digitally – will stop you moving forward and finding new, real-life connections.
Exorcise your exes
The simplest way to deal with the horror of haunting is to unfollow and block the person responsible. It might seem harsh – especially if it’s an ex that you’re struggling to let go – but it’s the only way to really move on.
You can unfriend people on Facebook and change your privacy settings so that your profile and posts can only be seen by friends. You can also block people on Instagram to stop them seeing your shots or viewing your stories.
Don’t worry; the people who you block won’t be notified – they’ll never know unless they actively search for your username. And if they do, they’ll soon get the message that you’ve moved on and ghosts aren’t welcome anymore.