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If You Thought Ghosting Was Bad, Wait Until You Read About ‘Zombieing’

If you thought ghosting was bad, wait until you read about zombieing. “Girl, you’re being ghosted? I’m being zombied,” shared singer-songwriter Mariel Darling in a now-viral TikTok video. “It’s like ghosting but he comes back from the dead after a couple of months and hits you up.” In some instances, the zombie even comes back years after ghosting you. 


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A Common Dating Woe — Zombieing

The dating trend is not new, but it was less-known than ghosting. Until now – Darling’s video was shared over 1.5M times on TikTok. Whether people were familiar with the term or not, the concept struck a chord and it is now on TikTokers’ radar. 

People were quick to share their outrage and dating stories. “Have you ever noticed that they all zombie you at the same time? Like why are four guys from my past all hitting me up on the same day???” wrote one person under Darling’s video. “Not me seeing this after I got a text from the guy that ghosted exactly a year ago today,” commented another. Someone even pointed out that zombies tend to zombie you when you have moved on and are perfectly happy. 

Why People Zombie 

Sounds familiar? You may be wondering why anyone would bother being a zombie instead of, you know, just being transparent and honest. Kate Balestrieri, PsyD, the founder of Modern Intimacy and expert for the relationship app Clarity, told Refinery29 that zombie-ing is attention-seeking behavior: “They want to see if they can still get a reaction. They’re using it as a way to get validation if they’re feeling low about themselves.” 

Jaime Zuckerman, Psy.D., LCP, told MindBodyGreen that there are two types of zombies: those who have insight and awareness, and those who don’t. The self-aware zombie likely ghosted you because they weren’t interested but were too afraid of confrontation to tell you. Over time, they may have felt guilty about how they handled things or realized that they had feelings for you. The non-self-aware zombie is more malicious – they may not consider the impact of their actions on others and return out of boredom or loneliness.  

What to Do with a Zombie? 

If you are being zombied, you may be tempted to re-engage, especially if you had strong feelings for the zombie. Beware – if someone ghosted you once, who’s to say they aren’t going to do it again? Unless the person offers a genuine apology and explanation and shows that they are willing to put some effort into regaining your trust, it’s a good idea to stay away. 

If you suspect that you’re dealing with the kind of zombie who is just craving validation without any regard for your feelings, the best move is to leave them on read – you can even change their name in your phone to the tombstone emoji, like one TikToker did. 

Trust your gut when assessing the situation, but, again, zombies will usually do what they do best and keep zombie-ing. Sure, anyone can grow and change, but do you really want to find out instead of focusing your energy on people who won’t disappear on you in the first place? 


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