‘Haunting’ Is Now a Dating Trend, Not to Be Confused With ‘Ghosting’

Photo illustration by Yesha Callahan/The Root; photos via iStock, Snapchat
Photo illustration by Yesha Callahan/The Root; photos via iStock, Snapchat

People make dating hard. There was a time when you’d just tell someone you weren’t interested instead of “ghosting” them. Which basically means falling off the face of the earth and disappearing like a ghost. Then there were the times when you’d just break up with someone and they’d be “out of sight, out of mind.” You’d delete that person from your phone and your life. And never look back. But nowadays, there’s this thing called “haunting.” And maybe we’re all just a tad bit guilty of doing it.


Over at Cosmo, writer Hannah Smothers spoke about a time she was haunted by a guy she went out with three times. While viewing her own Instagram story, she noticed that he’d also viewed it, even though they never followed each other, and after the third date, both had ghosted each other. So why was he all up in her Instagram story and being nosy?

Smothers defines haunting as “when someone from your romantic past lingers in your digital present by occasionally watching your Instagram or Snapchat story, or sporadically liking your posts.”

This is something I always feared, and one of the main reasons I used to keep my Instagram feed on private. There was one ex in particular who didn’t like my posts, but when he’d randomly contact me via text or the phone, he would mention certain things he’d know only from viewing my Instagram.

Him: How was Maui?

Me: You fucking stalker.

I mean, seriously, let’s call haunting what it really is. It’s a form of stalking. Sure, there will be victim-blamers out there who’ll probably say, “Well, keep your life off of social media.” But where else would I post a picture of my Maui luau?

The funniest part about Smothers’ post is the realization that those people who ghost you are usually the ones haunting you, and getting rid of them isn’t an easy task:

Trying to confront and banish your ghost can only backfire. Just like you’d look insane if you stood outside your house yelling at invisible ghosts to leave it alone, you’d look equally insane if you called a relationship ghost out for simply viewing your social stories. Acknowledging you’re being haunted only validates the ghost and makes it stronger.


But thanks to social media privacy features, blocking someone who’s haunting you could be a form of ghostbusting. Don’t even ask how many rando dates and exes I have blocked on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and life. Don’t be afraid to hit that “block” to live a haunting-free social media life.

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).



Man, what kind of unhealthy relationships are people having? I have spoken with all 3 of my significantly exes in the past month and hung out with two of them. One was a double date with our current partners. And I even maintain social media contact with most of my casual partners. Weirdly (I guess), my main friend group is comprised of a group of about 25 that all pretty much met through some form of casual dating before becoming friends so I am really surprised there is such derision for the concept.