Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
If you’re dating in today’s digital world, you may have dealt with someone ghosting you. Just as you think you’ve gotten over the guy or gal who disappeared and stopped communicating without an explanation (the ghost), that person’s name suddenly pops up on your phone.
Now you’re a victim of “zombieing.” Others refer to this dating phenomenon as haunting. The basic concept? Someone who previously ghosted you tries to come back into your life weeks, months, or even years (yes, years) later.
Zombieing could be considered a close cousin of breadcrumbing, which is when someone pops in once in a while to make sure they’re still on your radar. It’s their way of ensuring you’re still their romantic backup plan, as selfish as that may sound.
A message from a former ghost might seem innocent enough. Maybe they’re genuinely interested to see how you’re doing, or perhaps they realized how much they missed you and want to rekindle the relationship. However, it’s also possible they have ulterior motives — and if they do, you may be doomed to repeat the same ghosting cycle with them.
What Should I Do if Someone ‘Zombies’ Me?
The rejection and lack of closure involved with ghosting can be a painful experience, so it’s natural to feel upset if a ghost comes back to “haunt” you.
There are a few different ways to deal with an old flame who tries to reappear in your life. The first option is to ignore your zombie. You may not want someone in your life who didn’t respect you enough to tell you why they left, and that’s OK. You are not obligated to respond, and no one’s going to blame you if you delete their texts or block their number.
However, you may decide you do want to engage with this person. You might be curious to know why they ghosted in the first place, or maybe you have strong feelings for them and want to see if there’s still a spark. If you do answer their call or message, here are a couple of tips to help you handle the situation.
Set Your Boundaries
Remember that this person ghosted you once before. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be ghosted again, but all you can judge is what you’ve experienced already. Talk it out with your haunt; find out why they disappeared in the first place and why they’re back now.
More importantly, set clear boundaries for your relationship and what you expect from that person if they want to end it again. You may ultimately get ghosted again, but laying out your expectations up front could spare you a ton of hurt.
Beyond setting boundaries, you might want to dig a little deeper into who your zombie is today. If it’s been months or years since you last saw them, it would be wise to do a little research on them to see what they’ve been up to. A public records search could reveal potential reasons why they ghosted, such as a cross-country move, an arrest, or a court case.
The best-case scenario might be if this long-lost partner acknowledges they did something inconsiderate by ghosting. Along with an apology, it could be enough to prove they’re serious this time and want to make things work.