Recently identified in an article in London Evening Standard, “zombie-ing” is the latest dating trend that just won’t die. Comparable with ghosting in both terribleness, name and nature, zombie-ing can be defined as being ignored by someone for a prolonged period of time, then having them reach out to you out of the blue. And like my dad’s favorite TV show “The Walking Dead,” it is a trend that can never die.
Maybe you’ve heard of it happening, maybe you’ve done it yourself. In a perfect world, we’d choose to pursue or walk away. The reality of the situation finds itself somewhere in the middle. The simplest explanation? Life gets in the way. One day you’re talking to someone, the next you haven’t responded to their message, or they to yours so you move on with your day, your week, your month. One day, something reminds you of them, maybe a TV show you talked about watching, or you scroll through their messages on your phone and you reach out. Things never ended between the two of you, so they respond.
It’s a purgatory of sorts — you or the other person is kept in limbo. Something I’ve observed is that the second you tell yourself that you’re over them or you never cared in the first place (whichever narrative you go with), is the minute the person in question makes their re-entrance. The timing itself will never be perfect, especially if you were the one zombied and you are suddenly hit with the “Sorry, I was busy” text. Nothing can prepare you for the re-entrance of someone you probably vowed to never speak to again or honestly forgot about. After singing in the shower to break up music or the equally dramatic mass text deletion, sometimes the infamous words of an ex-beau, “sorry, I’m not sure I’m interested anymore,” can be too much to muster. Sometimes we are left with the silence only to hear some half-hearted version of “sorry, I was busy.” Aren’t we all? The irony of the first message is too sweet to not address. The same ex who expressed his disinterest texted me a month later to dispute his own claim. Even more, we still talk.
As someone who’s been in and out of apps like Bumble and Tinder in the same vein of being in and out of the U.K. border, I understand the “sorry, I was busy” mentality. Sometimes you do forget to answer or sometimes there are too many messages to look at. As someone who doesn’t use their phone during the work day, I understand how overwhelming looking at 100 messages can be, thanks to my group chats. Zombie-ing is complicated because it seems to be contradictory to the “if they care about you, they’ll make time for you” mentality but also self-fulling at the same time. It puts the person who is being zombied in a compromising position. Should they feel flattered that this person was thinking about them? Should they be skeptical?
Admittedly, this not a strategy I’ve evaded using. Last year, after the drama that doesn’t need to be rehashed went down, I reverted to immediately texting a guy who I know had been interested in me, thus re-entering the scene. Someone I had been stringing along through a series of unanswered messages responded quickly and was happy to hear from me. The cycle continued and suddenly I was back after months of ghosting.
“Game of Thrones” is sometimes quoted as saying, “What is dead may never die.” Which leads us to ask if anything can ever truly die? With the recent rise in modern technology and the increase in a number of mediums that exes and former flames can reach us on, can we ever be truly safe from zombie-ing?
Which is all to say this — do not play with someone’s emotions because you stand on the fence or cannot make time for them. Keeping someone on rotation only to reach out when you’re bored or lonely is unfair to the other person. Just as we are guided to say what we mean when we’re younger, we should state our intentions within a good time frame, not wait months to respond and then most likely become a nuisance. Although I truly believe the trend of zombie-ing may never die, we should try our best to stop the epidemic from spreading further.