The haunting dating trend, in a world of bad dating trends, still manages to be particularly awful. Not familiar with it? "I describe 'haunting' as today’s term [for] stalking an ex on social media, but seemingly more common and less creepy-sounding," Julie Spira, online dating expert, digital matchmaker, and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert, tells Bustle. "When you’re still connected on social media, or following someone’s public posts, it becomes common to take a peek daily (or even several times a day) just to find out what’s happening [with the other person]."
It means that you see that they've watched your Snapchat story or liked a Facebook post — that an ex or former fling manages to stay just involved enough to make you feel crappy and confused. Now, a lot of people have been burned by the OG of dating trends — ghosting. You know, when someone you're seeing or chatting to just straight up disappears, like a ghost. And people were angry about it. Hell, I've been angry about it. But haunting is worse. I know, with ghosting, you don't get any closure and that you don't know where they've disappeared to. But haunting also has a total lack of closure — with a lot more confusion.
Here's why it's worst than ghosting:
It Sends Mixed Messages
No matter how innocent you think you're being, haunting messes with people. "If you’ve dumped someone, don’t keep liking their posts and viewing their activity," Spira says. "It will only create anger and resentment to the person you’re haunting, especially when [they’re] not ready to be friends just yet."
And by being in contact, it seems like they're still interested in you. It can be way too easy to convince yourself that actually they're still into you— why else would they be taking the time to get in contact? Well, a lot of reasons. But it keeps you holding out for a chance — which is probably just what they want, to keep you on the hook.
You Can't Just Forget About It
The whole point of ghosting is that they're gone. And sure, that's difficult — at first. You go to through this weird period where you don't know if they really are just super busy or if they're totally disappearing on you. But once you've realized that they're gone, then they're really gone. There's not a trace of them left behind. You might not get closure, but you do know that they weren't interested in you and at least they're not trying to lull you back in. Out of sight, out of mind. Haunting is the opposite of that — it's saying, "I'm here! I exist! Don't forget me!" and it makes moving on way more difficult.
The Motivation Behind It Is Sh*tty
Ultimately, I think haunting is worse than ghosting because the attitude behind it is worse. Sure, ghosting is cowardly, but after an ambiguous period, it sends a pretty clear message. They're trying to get out of it without having to deal with the consequences. They're just being immature. It's not great, but there are worse behaviors.
Haunting, on the other hand, is manipulative. Why do people do it? Well, I think some people just like to mess with people — I really believe that. But sometimes it can go deeper than that.
"People haunt for one of a few reasons," Chris Armstrong, relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, tells Bustle. "Reason one would be that they didn't want it to end and they're infatuated with the person they're haunting. It eats at them that things are over and they must stay connected in their own way. Reason two would be that while they wanted it to end, they are a controlling person by nature. They want to have their cake (the breakup) and eat it too (not have the person they're haunting to be with someone else). The third reason is that they feel the need to bug the person they're haunting. They like that attention and annoyance it brings."
None of these are good enough reasons to do it to someone else — in fact, they're all just really sh*tty.
Sure, ghosting and haunting are both generally bad behavior. But when it comes to a way to deal with your exes, haunting is definitely worse.