“Ghosting” is a cruel method of breaking up with someone that involves simply cutting off all contact without any explanation, and it’s happening to tons of people (millennials, in particular).
A new survey of 800 single US millennials, conducted by dating service PlentyOfFish, found 80% had been “ghosted.”
But there’s an even more insidious form of ghosting that has begun to pop up, which manages to constantly remind someone they have been dumped.
Let’s call it “haunting.”
Haunting is when, though you have cut off all direct contact with someone, you still interact indirectly with them on social media. This means that you don’t send them messages, but you still “like” their Facebook or Instagram posts, or, commonly, view their stories on Snapchat.
Most of the people I spoke to said Snapchat had become ground zero for this type of ghosting. Why? Because you can see everyone who has viewed your stories or snaps, whereas you have to actively “like” a post on Facebook for someone to know you were looking. And while “liking” the Facebook post of someone you ghosted has to feel a bit cheeky, viewing their Snapchat story might not seem like such a big deal.
But it hurts. The consensus among the people I talked to was that method of ghosting definitely stung more — but depending on the amount of emotional distance they had, it could also be amusing.
“Oh, you are alive,” one person joked.
Some have argued that one of the horrible parts of ghosting is that it sends mixed signals. “If you go on more than three dates, you’ve indicated you’re interested,” Anna Sale, the managing editor and host of a WNYC podcast called Death, Sex & Money told The New York Times. “To disappear after that is confusing.”
What’s even more confusing? Having that person retweet your witty commentary like everything is fine and dandy.
Jezebel has argued that, “generally a person worthy of ghosting has really done something really, truly terrible.” Haunting seems to undercut that. If that person had done something unforgivably bad, it doesn’t really make sense that you are still engaging with them, in some way, on social media.
But the explanation might be a simple one.
One “haunter” admitted the reason why he did it was to leave things open for a future rendezvous. He had begun to casually “like” things on social media a few months after ghosting his former date. So how did it go?
He hadn’t had the courage to initiate direct contact yet.