It’s honestly getting harder to keep up with dating terms, but there’s, unfortunately, a new red flag to watch out for – ‘zombies’.
Mariel Darling took to TikTok to share her experience getting ‘zombied’, in a video that now has 1.5 million views.
“Girl, you’re being ghosted?” “I’m being zombied,” she shared with her 255,900 followers on the platform. When someone ‘zombies’ you, she explains, it’s like ghosting, but he comes back from the dead after a couple of months and hits you up again.
People clearly resonated with Darling’s video, as they began sharing their own experiences with this. Although we have only coined the term recently, this is something that has been happening for as long as casual dating has been a ‘norm’.
And there are actually variations of it too. According to a report released by Burner, there are two distinct types of zombies. “Zombieing is when someone rises from the digital dead,” the report explains “There are two types of zombies: those who were actual exes and those who were casual dates.”
Ghosting –when someone abruptly cuts off all communications– is an incredibly common exit strategy these days that you or someone you know has probably experienced it. A 2016 survey from PlentyOfFish reveals that almost 80% of single millennials between the ages of 18 and 33 have been ghosted while dating. It’s easier now as face-to-face contact is dwindling and you can go offline with a click. Zombie-ing takes the sudden exit a step further. Why the term is a lot worse than ‘ghosting’, is because ‘zombie-ing’ often occurs just as you’ve moved on and come to terms with what happened. This re-emergence might also become a toxic pattern soon before you realise it.
Multiple reports and articles on the internet will tell you various reasons why a person would ghost someone. The abruptness of ghosting can give a false impression that it’s a clean break, but it’s actually a pretty messy one that tends to leave singles confused and wary of putting themselves out there again. Although ghosting is never the right way to go about breaking off contact with someone, it’s more complicated most times. There is one understandable reason – if the person crosses a boundary, and triggers your insecurities, then you owe them no explanation before you distance yourself. One of the most common explanations, though, is that the person simply lost interest.
In an age where casual dating is the norm and our interests and attention spans shift constantly – the person who ghosted you might regain their interest as fast as they lost it. That’s normally when the ‘zombie-ing’ occurs. Some people might feel guilty over how they left things, but for ‘serial ghost-ers’, it almost seems like a self-destructive pattern.
On the other hand, thanks to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, we’re now more prone to loneliness and disconnection – while at the same time, dating is much harder and more fraught. Some people handle rejection and feelings of abandonment better than others, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hard pills to swallow. Regardless of the reason, ‘ghosting’ and ‘zombie-ing’ someone is unacceptable.
But this isn’t strictly a ‘dating’ issue. People are becoming more frivolous with their feelings in general, as studies show that people prefer avoiding confrontation now more than ever. Incomplete communication is ultimately not good for our mental health, nor that of the person on the receiving end.
In some cases, the person zombie-ing you might have genuine reasons– in which case it’s better to reconnect and be honest about your feelings. But it’s also important to know when to not give in. It’s up to you – the one on the receiving end of this – to decide whether to set boundaries and avoid potential manipulation.
Bottom line – ‘zombie-ing’ is just another addition to a never-ending list of dating trends and you’re probably going to experience it at least once in your life. On the surface, these might seem like irrelevant ‘internet terms’, but while the names will come and go – the toxic actions will remain. The increased access to people through technology and apps does amplify those trends.