Dating Defined: Haunting
Spooky season is upon us, which means eery haunted houses, trick-or-treaters running through the streets, and Halloween costumes cluttering your Instagram feed. But perhaps the one thing even scarier than the latest slasher horror movie to hit the theaters is the ghost of a partner past. And with cuffing season ushering in right behind Halloween, it’s practically guaranteed there will be several haunters hiding in the cobwebs of your digital presence.
You know what I’m talking about: a former fling starts rearing their head in your social notifications, whether it’s a story view, an Instagram like, or a TikTok comment. Dating experts have appropriately (and festively) coined the term “haunting,” and what’s frightening is it’s super common and doesn’t discriminate among past lovers (i.e. it could be an ex of four years or that one-date-wonder who followed you on the ‘Gram.)
So in order to avoid lurking evil spirits of the past or prevent temptation from doing the creeping yourself (come on, we’re all guilty), we’re breaking down exactly what this new dating term really entails and how to avoid falling victim to it.
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What Is Haunting?
Do you ever have that inkling that you’re being watched, or rather followed, on the inner-workings of the deep dark internet? (a.k.a. social media) Yes, I’m talking about that former flame who pops up in the views or likes on your social platforms. Well, according to OkCupid’s Chief Marketing Officer and dating expert Melissa Hobley, you can define that kind of behavior as dating’s newest trend: haunting.
She describes the exchanges as: “No meaningful interactions; just a lingering presence.” And it can be any type of social media from Instagram and TikTok to Snapchat or even Facebook and LinkedIn (for real!). The worst part? It’s super common.
“In this digital age, it’s not always as easy to cut ties,” she says, adding that it’s especially hard when you have mutual friends because you still pop up on each other’s feeds.
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Who Is Haunting?
The opportunities are pretty much limitless. It’s anyone you used to be romantically involved with who still lingers in the confines of your social notifications. Afraid yet?
“Imagine your ex who occasionally likes your posts on Instagram,” explains Hobley. “Or a person you broke up commenting on your TikTok or that guy you were really into, who ghosted you, likes a LinkedIn post.” Sounds super confusing right?
The most terrifying part is you may never know why someone is haunting you. Do they still have feelings? Do they want to get back together? Are they jealous that you’re doing well? Do they just want to make sure you haven’t moved on? Hobley says there’s really no use in trying to interpret what it means.
“If it was a serious relationship and your ex is still showing up on social media, it’s not always clear why,” she says. In fact, she adds that the “why” is pretty much obsolete at this point. “My advice: the reason why doesn’t matter. What matters is how much it’s affecting you.”
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