Is He Ghosting, Haunting, or Zombieing You? (Halloween Edition)

Do you have a “ghost” in your love life?  Are you the victim of a “haunting”? Is there a “zombie,” back from the dating-dead, knocking at your door all of a sudden?

I made a Halloween-themed video about these – apparently new – dating phenomena. I tell you practically what you should do about each of them, and, most importantly, I simplify this whole convoluted, ridiculous mess…

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Why is it that dating seems to have become so complicated? I was recently on a show where I was asked about ghosting, haunting, zombieing, and, as much as I had a wonderful time, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “My God, why do we keep coming up with new names for things?”

I’m going to talk to you about those three words right now, but I’m going to simplify this once and for all.

Let’s take ghosting to begin with. Ghosting is when someone just… Maybe we went on a couple of dates and they disappeared, they just never texted us again. Maybe we were seeing someone for a long time and then they disappeared – much worse. We are left in this abyss of unknowing. What the hell happened? Are they okay? Is there something so wrong with me that not only are they not interested, but they didn’t even bother to tell me that they’re not interested?

I think that a big problem with ghosting is that we look for closure. We shouldn’t look for closure, we should give ourselves closure. Closure can be the gift that you give to yourself, and the closure is this: They either don’t care about me at all; or, they do care about me, but are willing to do this to someone they care about. Either way, this is enough information to move on with your life. Remember this when you’re looking for more information: Someone not contacting you is information. Disinterest is closure.

Number two, haunting. This was a word that got brought up to me and, I’ll be honest with you, I had to look it up, because they didn’t know what haunting meant in the dating context. When I did look it up, I realized, “Oh, we’ve dealt with this before.”


Simmi Singh:

In any case, I happen to know he likes me.


Matthew Hussey:

Because he treats you right?


Simmi Singh:

Because even if he doesn’t text back, he still likes my Instagram pictures.


Matthew Hussey:

Right then.


When we talked about haunting, we called it a “platform downgrade.” Someone going from a more intimate form of communication with you – either seeing you in person, having phone calls, texting – to a much lesser form of communication that perhaps doesn’t even qualify as communication. It’s just someone being an abstract presence in your life, through the form of viewing your stories, liking your posts, but never having a direct interaction with you.

Now look, a simple response to this is just to block the person. If you really don’t want to hear from them, just block them. If you don’t want to see their name coming up on everything you do, block them.

But if you like the person and you don’t want to block them, the least I ask of you is that you not see them viewing your stories as a sign that something is going to happen. See it for what it is: Nothing.

Number three, zombieing. Zombieing is another new given to the idea that someone who has gone off the radar completely – they were a ghost – now has come back from the dead. And it might be in the form of a text saying, “Thinking of you,” or, “I miss you,” or, “Hey, what you up to?” Complete lack of acknowledgement for the fact that I ghosted you, for the fact that I’ve not been around for a long time. It’s someone coming back into your life, and, in that moment, you have to decide what you want to do with that.

The danger is that this person’s now coming back to you on their terms. We have this selfish streak in us, as human beings, that we tend to reach out to people when we need something, not when they need something, and zombieing is exactly that. Someone feels lonely, someone needs some validation, they want to check that you’re still there, they want to check that the door is still open. So they come back to you after having disappeared for a long time. You have to see that for what it is. This is not a sign of true investment, this is just a sign that someone is thinking of me right now in the moment.

There is a difference between attention and intention, and there’s a difference between intention and true investment. You don’t have true investment, you may not even have intention, the intention for them to actually go somewhere with you now, for it to become something more, you may just have attention. So you have to recognize attention for what it is, and in the form of zombieing, it’s not even good quality attention, it’s poor quality attention on somebody else’s terms.


Jesse Eisenberg:

Oh my God. Are you okay?


Now look, these terms are fun, I suppose, but where I get frustrated at them is I feel like we’ve begun to, as a culture, fetishize all these different versions of someone just being a bit shit. And by talking about them, by labeling, every different variation of someone not trying, we are investing more time and energy in these different phenomenons, which really aren’t that new in the first place. I mean, haunting may be new because someone didn’t get the chance to haunt our Instagram stories back in the fifties, but ghosting’s not new. That movie idea of, you see in a movie a woman comes up to a guy in the street and she’s like, “You never called.” That’s ghosting. She didn’t have any way to reach him other than when she saw him in the street and all he did was not see her anymore. It’s the same thing.

And I’ve said it before, trying is trying is trying is trying. Invest in someone based on how much they invest in you, not based on how much you like them. And people will say to me, “Matt, don’t worry I’m not investing. I’m not texting him back.” That doesn’t matter. Okay, so you’re not showing your investment to him, but you’re still investing when you’re thinking about it and analyzing it and dissecting it. It’s like dissecting smaller and smaller pieces of something that’s not important to begin with, and when we do that, that represents uneven investment. This person’s clearly not thinking about you, but you’re spending time thinking about and analyzing them. Lots of investment, no investment. So even when you’re not actually having an exchange, you can still have an imbalance in terms of the amount of investment you’re giving.

So if you want to stop analyzing things that don’t matter, and start actually pursuing things that could matter, I have three habits for you that you can take on in your love life to start creating real results. And that’s what I want. I don’t want to spend more time giving energy to these terms, these phenomenons that aren’t what you want in the first place. I’d rather give time to creating people that are serious in your life. So if you want my free guide on what these three habits are, come to I’ll leave a link right here, and I’ll see you there. Let’s start making progress and stop wasting time.

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12 Replies to “Is He Ghosting, Haunting, or Zombieing You? (Halloween Edition)”

  • Matthew, I have a question. With this new negative phenomenon with ghosting, zombying and whatever the 50 other versions of the same bad behavior is. My one question is, should we start calling people out for this bad behavior?

    I feel like because people are getting away with doing it, people are getting the sense that treating people like this in dating is now “normal”. Really? Normal??….ugh NO!!

    This is like raising children with bad not corrected behavior. It just gets worse and worse. Which is why we have even more names for different versions of bad behavior. Yah we all know what it is, however I think 90% of people are never called out on it. I get this was young people at one point but now I see older men doing it. Why? Because we let people get away with it, so why not?

  • Fabulously well executed I needed to hear that and TODAY…. I already knew this but gave me such more determination
    You rock in a way that is just straight up real to the point and I love your accent keep on this topic and how men s insecurities are why they after a committed mutually over a year will just run like forest gump…and really are masterminds of making you THINK they still care like a boomerang it’s a reallysick sadistic on dime levels a control mind game…eating away at and self esteem or respect. I need your anything asking those topics please

  • Hello,

    I would like to receive the free guide “3 love habits”. I have tried to get it following the link posted above, but after filling in with my name and email address, the spaces are empty and I cannot go forward.

    Could you please help?

  • I’ve been seeing a guy for 2 months (seriously for 2 weeks). It was tough, he jerked me around a lot, but I finally got to the point where he was taking me seriously. We got in a huge fight at his friend’s Halloween party, that he blames me for completely. I think that’s unfair but whatever! The next morning, he said he needed space and I haven’t heard from him since (fight happened Saturday night, it is now Wednesday). I texted him yesterday to let him know one of his friends messaged me – I forgot my jacket at their house after the party, and was going to pick it up. He didn’t respond. Where should I go from here? I still want him back.

  • I’m 63 years old. Yes, 63. Married twice with children and grandkids. Your wisdom has helped me through (still helping) a ten year non-relationship. After we said goodbye from our employer, as only having been friends, I went off to lick my wounds. Three years later he reached out. Since he is much younger, we were both apprehensive about admitting our attraction. But once that was established, he retreated for months, showed up and teased me, disappeared, made plans with me, didn’t follow through, reached out again months later and so on….continuing for almost four years. My self doubt was on steroids. Finally I sent an explicit steamy invitation, no strings attached, purely mutual physical satisfaction. It did prompt an actual phone call (only the second one in 5 years). Four months later he still hadn’t knocked on my door. But we both agreed we would get this done. It could turn into friends with benefits, or end abruptly. He was extremely complimentary during our encounter. But he immediately told me he did feel differently afterwards, and was “going dark” for a few months. And we said goodbye. That was six weeks ago. Your words over the past year have served to give me perspective and to begin the process of forgiving myself, and him. Your reminders and guidance on how men think has led me to try letting go. And although I agreed with your wisdom, it’s not what I wanted to hear. My intellect and my heart have been at war forever…my heart barely winning. I have always had clarity about what this isn’t. But As I type out this summary of the past five years, thanks to your nonjudgmental guidance to us foolish women, the fog has started to finally lift and it’s starting to gel. I see what a jerk he is and hurt less than I used to. Thank you for being an advocate for those of us who are out there flailing. You are literally the best and most effective professional out there. I thank you from the bottom of my breaking heart.

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