Your Ex Really Could Be 'Haunting' You

And here we are again: another day, another horrible dating trend that's enough to make anyone throw in the towel on trying to find love. This time we have "haunting," and while the term may be steeped in spookiness, it's straight-up annoying more than anything else. Merriam-Webster defines "haunt" as "to visit often; to continually seek the company of; to have a disquieting or harmful effect on; a recur constantly and spontaneously to; to visit or inhabit as a ghost."

So, basically, unlike ghosting — when the person you dated just up and disappears — those who haunt go away, but not quite far enough. "People haunt for one of a few reasons," Chris Armstrong, relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, tells Bustle. "Reason one would be that they didn't want it to end and they're infatuated with the person they're haunting. It eats at them that things are over and they must stay connected in their own way. Reason two would be that while they wanted it to end, they are a controlling person by nature... The third reason is that they feel the need to bug the person they're haunting. They like that attention and annoyance it brings."

While they may not engage directly with you, haunting is an indirect way of them letting you know that they're still out there, even though ties and communication have been cut. As William H. Macy's character said in the film "Magnolia," "We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us." And it's true.

Signs your ex is haunting you

When it comes to haunting, the signs are pretty clear: that certain someone from your past just won't fully let you go. While they won't dare text you, they have no qualms about hovering over every form of social media that you have and making their appearance known with "likes" or emoji responses. It's the type of thing that can make you feel unwell because you don't really know why they're haunting you. 

"Before social media, you had to put in more effort to haunt someone, whether that was going to your old stomping grounds in the hopes of bumping into them, asking all your mutual friends about what they've been up to, or more blatant forms of stalking, like driving past [their] house or calling and hanging up," couples counselor and dating coach Samantha Burns tells Bustle. "But nowadays with social media, it's so much easier to keep an eye on your ex's behavior. The real question is, is haunting helping or hurting you in moving forward and gaining closure?"

While no one can argue that checking in on a past love interest or even a former friend with benefits from time to time is normal, who doesn't want the validation that they're better off without them? But to keep rolling up on someone's social media and making sure that person is aware that you're doing it is something else (via Today).

How to stop your ex from haunting you

If you want to nip the haunting in the bud, the easiest way is to lock down your social media accounts immediately. If they follow you, there's an option to have them unfollow you or you can just block them wherever there's a block button (via The Washington Post). You've moved on and you don't need their presence constantly reminding you that you once knew them in some way.

However, there may be a part of you that likes to be haunted. When we excel in our lives, especially when it's both personally and professionally, there's a thrill that comes with showing that off to an ex. This thrill is even further amplified if the ex was the one to end the relationship. It can definitely give your ego a boost to know that a former love is not only still thinking about you but is actively checking on what you're up to (via the New York Post).

But while that's a positive aspect of being haunted by an ex, the incessant reminder can be annoying. If that's the case and you feel like they shouldn't be privy to your life, no matter how fabulously successful you've become since you dated them, then just block 'em. There's a reason you broke up or stopped dating each other, so whatever that reason is should be enough to strip them of their haunting ability.