Tell me if this has ever happened to you before: You meet someone new (probably through a dating app or maybe even in real-life), go on a few great dates, and then get ghosted. Ghosting, as you probably already know, is when a perfectly good date seemingly drops off the face of the Earth. No explanation or anything. One minute, you’re having a perfectly nice date and talking regularly via text, and the next minute you haven’t heard from this person for weeks despite having tentative plans last weekend. Oh well.
But then… After months of silence, you get a ping on your phone and are shocked to see your previous ghost has resurfaced all of a sudden. That’s called a zombie. Yes, when your formerly great date ghosted you but then gets in touch months later, that’s called zombieing — the latest trend in dating that you should be fairly horrified by. But what exactly IS zombieing and how do you deal with it? We’ve talked to the experts and women who have experienced this phenomenon.
“Basically, zombieing is a tactic that lets the other person keep their options open while stringing someone else along with the least amount of effort or regard for the other person,” Clarissa Silva, a Latina behavioral scientist and creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, told HipLatina. “Like ghosting, the other person is entertaining them when they reach out. It’s probably the saddest and minimal amount of effort to demonstrate interest in someone.”
The problem with zombieing someone is that it keeps that person’s options open without actually any kind of commitment to you and, ultimately, it hurts your feelings. You might be forever left wondering why someone ghosted you but, when they reach back out again, it might lead to further feelings of confusion and pain. Why didn’t they follow up for that third date months ago? What has changed now?
“In all these types, the underlying issue is not just their non-commitment issues, it’s their ego,” Silva said. “Their ego is fulfilled when they reach out to you after months and you accepted their previous behavior and continue in a cycle of a dissatisfactory relationship. Your ego, on the other hand, begins to take a hit to your self-esteem. Now you’re asking yourself questions like: Why they reached out if they hadn’t ever planned to follow through? What’s the point of reaching out to me? And, finally, why do I continue to attract these types?”
For women who experience this behavior from their dates, it can be extraordinarily frustrating.
“People who zombie are incredibly draining and just can’t make up their minds,” Michon said to HipLatina. She recounted the story of a friend she’d had since elementary with whom interactions “grew weirder.” “He’d drop contact randomly and abruptly, or say he couldn’t talk to me, only to reappear months later as if nothing had happened. He couldn’t decide if I was everything he’d ever wanted or just a ‘whore.'”
If this situation sounds familiar, it might also be because zombieing can happen years later. Christina recounted the story of walking back to work from lunch when her phone buzzed and she received a message from a guy named Rafael — who she went out with two and a half years earlier!
“Remember me?” she remembers him texting. After replying that she did (barely), he wrote back: “Well, I know I dipped out and didn’t offer any reason but I was seeing someone else at the time and honestly I was just more attracted to her so I went for it. We’re over now and I was wondering if I could take you out for dinner.”
She laughs about it now but, at the time, she remember thinking that the guy had a lot of “chutzpah.” “Like he straight up just said I came in second to someone hotter but he was willing to give me another shot? It was amazing,” she told HipLatina.
And why does this keep happening? Michelle, who has experienced her own share of ghosting and zombieing, thinks that these dating trends are both products of “a culture of casual dating and easy access to getting back in touch.”
“[We] never fully close the door on a person, because you still follow them on Instagram, or whatever,” Michelle told HipLatina.
One of the main dangers of zombieing is when friends hear your stories and romanticize them to be more than they are, instead of just a person who’s unsure about you and keeps you as an option even though they never plan to actually date you again.
“Others have romanticized it as a sign of ‘fate,'” Fallen told HipLatina. “Like, maybe he keeps prodding because the universe is throwing us together like he’s Prince Charming or something — that’s the feedback I’ll hear from people.”
But this kind of thinking can be dangerous, Silva warns. Instead, women who have dealt with this kind of behavior all have one sure-fire solution: Deleting phone numbers and blocking those zombies to keep them from ever rising into your life again.
“After about the third time of him getting cold feet/changing his mind, I blocked him for good,” Michon said of her date who kept zombieing over and over again.
Maisie agrees. Recently, she deleted all of the text and phone numbers of “fuck bois” out of her phone and got a text from one saying that he “was just thinking of you, grateful for the time we spent together. Hope you are well!”
“For a second, I wondered which one it was,” Maisie told HipLatina, “and then remembered it doesn’t matter!”
Although zombieing can be tempting at first, ultimately, it is dangerous behavior to keep engaging in. Take a cue from these ladies and simply let those ghosts and zombies go. Unfollow them on Instagram and block those phone numbers for your own peace of mind. Christina, who found someone shortly after Rafael ghosted and zombied her, said that letting go of that potential relationship led to something better that ultimately made her into “a much less insecure person who is very loved.”