In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to dig around for some dating-gone-wrong stories that will send chills up your spine. As I began to uncover these relationships long buried, it became clear that much of modern dating’s vernacular—ghosting, haunting, zombies—that pop up throughout these stories of dead ends and false starts are actually as shocking as they are ill-advised.
For a refresher, here are the official terms:
Ghosting: When someone you're dating goes poof—no explanation. Suddenly, they stop responding to texts or calls, and you never hear from them again.
Haunting: When someone who ghosted you in the past contacts you suddenly—usually through a random text or call.
Zombie-ing: When an old relationship you thought dead comes back to you through the weirdness of social media, be it an Instagram like or an odd direct Snap.
Honestly, the only good that comes out of this conduct is the trove of excellent stories we now have—and we've found some shockers. So, without further ado, here are true tales of ghosts, hauntings, zombies—and some truly ghoulish behavior!
To kick things off, I’ll share a favorite ghosting story of my own:
Paging Dr. Zombie
“Not long after moving to New York I met a handsome medical resident at a bar. After waiting three weeks to ask me on our first date, we ended up going out several times, then he ghosted. He came around as more than a zombie the first time, about a year later. We dated again for a few months and then back to the spirit realm he went, where he stayed for about four years. Then, this summer while I was at work one day, he called. I saw the name come up on my iPhone screen and couldn’t believe it—I was so spooked I didn’t pick up. I assumed it was a pocket dial . . . until he left a voicemail! My heart practically beating out of my chest, I pressed play. It was a message for a ‘Doctor Taylor’ about rounding on patients and doing a heart transplant, of all things. I texted back to let him know he had left a message for the wrong Taylor, wondering if this was fate bringing our connection back from the dead. Alas, he remains a ghost of non-boyfriends past.” —Taylor, 31
Ghosts on a Plane
“I went out on several dates with a guy who was much more interested in me than I was him. Long story short, I ghosted him after our third date, and it took him a while to take the hint. Fast-forward two months to when I’m sitting on a flight home from Denver, and who walks onto the plane? The guy, of course. We chatted for a moment before he had to shuffle down the aisle to his seat. I think he thought it was fate or something, but all I could think was that I needed a drink. I felt trapped, even in the exit row! That uncomfortable encounter definitely convinced me that karma is real and ghosting doesn’t pay off!” —Katie, 22
I’ll Take This Haunting to Go, Please
“About four or five years ago, I was out on the town one night in Washington, D.C., with my girlfriends and met a guy—one who seemed like a true gem. His mom even knew my dad from college days. I saw our future together right before my eyes! We kissed, we exchanged numbers, and I thought for sure love was in the air. And so began the dance. He would send me pictures of my dad from a college yearbook his mother kept, and then it would be radio silence for three days. He would plan happy hour drinks to only cancel thirty minutes before. The worst and final straw occurred on a Tuesday night when he said he was fifteen minutes away and bringing takeout. How sweet and spontaneous! I hoped in the shower and got ready—lightning fast. Two hours later, it was apparent he was definitely not fifteen minutes away with takeout. Naturally, I wrote him off long ago, but good old 'Jim from H Street' (as he’s saved in my phone) still texts me like clockwork every fall—and has for five years running. It’s always something like, ‘Hey ;) how are you?’ Honestly, I'm starving—still waiting for that Chinese takeout, Jim!” —Caitlin, 30
When Your Number Seems to Vanish Without a Trace
“A guy I briefly dated many months ago still haunts me occasionally via Snapchat message—which is funny considering their logo is a ghost! I rarely check the app, but almost every time I do, there he is. Each time, he says, ‘Hi!’ and then asks to meet up, to which I reply, ‘Definitely, shoot me a text, and we'll coordinate there because I never check Snap messages.’ (Setting updates via Snapchat is not a thing, gentlemen!) As you can probably guess, he never follows up with a text and we haven’t gone out again. . . . Good thing those messages disappear after a day.” —Meredith, 26
Podcasting from the Beyond
“Earlier this year, I matched with a guy on Bumble who told me he was an aspiring comedian. We had a pretty normal conversation over the course of a few days—with me making witty remarks and him asking standard get-to-know-you questions. We went on three dates or so before he called to tell me he just ‘wasn’t feeling the chemistry.’ That kind of thing happens all the time when I’m on a dating spree, so I didn’t think much of it.
Less than a week later, I found out that he had read the entirety of our Bumble message exchange on the most recent episode of his ‘comedy’ podcast. Word-for-word, he narrated our texts to his audience, giving me a strange voice and inserting his opinions of what I said all along the way. Apparently, it was supposed to be funny. And even though I didn’t think the conversation was particularly interesting, I was mortified. Knowing that something I thought to be private was broadcasted for all the world to hear and judge—even anonymously—was surreal. I soothed myself by giving his podcast a one-star review and promptly deleting his number.” —Ellen, 28
The Zombie in the Woods
"One fateful Tinder scroll about four years ago, I began casually dating a sweet med student who spent his free time volunteering with kids. I was totally smitten after just three dates—so when he told me he was moving back to the Midwest from New York to care for a sick relative but that he’d miss me, I wondered what would happen. After a few months of texting to keep in touch, he offered to buy me a ticket to come out and visit him. I agreed... And the trip was a disaster. His home was basically in a forest in the middle of nowhere, and with nothing to do, we quickly realized we didn’t even like each other that much. When he dropped me off at the airport, I sighed in relief, believing that we’d never be in touch again.
But just last week, four years later, this guy added me on Instagram! I have a public profile, so before he tapped that ‘Follow’ button, he could have plainly seen that I’m in a relationship and have been for some time. Why is he haunting me now?! My only guess is that he’s wistful for his past life in New York and probably rather bored out there in his creepy house in the woods.” —Emily, 29
The Zombie Who Came Back from the Dead
“After a bad breakup with my long-term boyfriend, he returned to France (where he’s from) and we didn’t speak for six long months. Fueled by two cocktails too many late one night, I wrote him a long, inflammatory email laced with biting insults that ended with me stating I felt 'lucky' that we had broken up. (Even though clearly, I didn’t.) And just in case he wasn’t checking his email, I copied the whole thing into a Whatsapp message and sent that out as well. (International communication can be finicky!) It felt good to get out some feelings—but I had my doubts about how he would take it. Just a few days later he wrote back—with the most beautiful love letter I have ever read. I didn’t deserve it, mind you, but you might say the letter brought me back to life. (We’re getting married next summer! In France!) —Alex, 36