Move Over Ghosting, Haunting is Here to Make Our Love Lives Even More Uncomfortable

Ghosting and breadcrumbing, two distinctly similar ways to badly mishandle your love life (or be mistreated by your significant other). While both of them certainly predate the social media age, the terms were only coined recently, owing to a distinct rise in this kind of behaviour.

If you need reminding, ghosting is the act of cutting off all contact with a significant other without any explanation in the hopes that they'll take the hint. Breadcrumbing, meanwhile, is the act of keeping said significant other at an arm's length, while still dropping the odd indicator that you're interested to keep them 'in reserve'. They're both horrible, and now they have a new sibling, 'haunting'.

While the former two have only been exacerbated by social media, haunting couldn't have existed without it. If you're being haunted, it means that an ex-lover is keeping a very close eye on your social media feeds, throwing you the odd like here, or viewing your Instagram stories, just to wordlessly reinsert their name into your memory bank.

This behaviour is more common on Instagram, because unless you have a private account, anyone can follow you. If any of your exes are still on your Facebook, chances are things ended pretty amicably, otherwise you'd have deleted them, right? Well yes, but that's the thing about haunting, it doesn't actually have to be an ex.

Someone could be doing it to you right now and you might not even realise. Is there someone who you don't know very well who likes a lot of your posts? Perhaps it's someone you had a one-night stand with, or someone you suspected might be interested in you? It's entirely possible that they're haunting you. If you get a notification saying that they liked a really old picture of you, then it's time to get really worried.

In a way, this is like observing a whole new generation of people adjust to the way romance works. Past generations have had their own renditions of ghosting and haunting, we just didn't have names for them. The difference here is that past generations didn't have the means to get into their ex-lover's heads like this. Before Instagram came along people just texted each other and then pretended it was a wrong number, or used friends as spies, or challenged their new partner to a duel.

This trend has been particularly affected by Stories, chiefly on Instagram but also on Facebook. Because you're the only person who can see the 'watched' list, it's like someone is sending a private message simply stating "I've got my eye on you."

The real awkwardness of it is, as is often the case with this kind of creepy behaviour, you'll only be met with denial if you actually confront them about it. Really and truly though, it shouldn't be that difficult to ignore someone if all they're ever doing is liking and viewing, the crucial thing to remember is that however much their activity is getting on your nerves, for a them it's completely hopeless attempt to worm their way back into your life. Eventually they'll realise that, and it'll suck.

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