If you thought the words ‘ghosting’, ‘benching’ and ’zombieing’ sounded like lingo out of a new teenage vampire Netflix series we wouldn’t blame you, but truth is they’re actually the latest dating trends. Confused? We asked Nichi Hodgson, dating consultant for The Inner Circle, to explain exactly what they mean and what to do should they happen to you.
There’s nothing worse than leaving a first or second date on an all-time high, only to wait patiently for a follow-up text that never comes. You’re under the impression you both had a great time and presume there will be plenty more dates ahead. When the reality hits that’s not going to happen, you can feel rejected and vulnerable you have put yourself on the line.
Ghosting can happen at any point in the dating process, but it’s essentially when the person you like vanishes out of thin air, without any explanation. Complete radio silence. Obviously, the longer you’ve been dating, the more it’s going to hurt, but whatever stage you’re both at, it’s never going to feel good being turned down by someone you like.
What to do about it
With the rise of online dating, ghosting has become more prevalent, with over 50% of online daters – both men and women – reporting it happening to them. Why? It’s easier to ignore the situation than facing an awkward conversation to explain why you don’t want to see someone again.
Nichi says: “Being ghosted can feel paralysing. There's no way to 'answer' a ghost, which makes it such an effective method of shutting you out. The best way to deal with being ghosted is to preserve your dignity, delete the ghost's number and eliminate them from the pool of people you give a shit about. Don't waste another second on someone who has treated you with so much disdain.”
As hard as it may be, resist the urge to ask that person why. It’s unlikely you’ll get the response you’re looking for – the silence literally speaks volumes. It’s tough to accept rejection head on, but be strong enough to know that person wasn’t right for you, and there’s someone better out there who appreciates and wants the same kind of relationship as you. “Instead, focus on meeting someone genuinely respectful and look forward to introducing them to your ghost at the next social gathering. After all, happiness is the greatest revenge,” says Nichi.
Next time you're debating whether or not to send someone a let-down text, just remember how you felt when you were ghosted.
Benching is where someone keeps you on the sidelines, effectively ‘keeping their options open’. If you’re the one being benched, you may think you’re playing the game well, and being sensitive for going at their pace or accommodating their hectic schedule, but the brutal truth is that person is just not that into you. They want to keep you on the back-burner and wait for someone better to come along.
Nichi says: “A word of warning: getting off the bench is unlikely to happen, even if you think it’s only a matter of time.”
What to do about it
“Commitment-phobes love to bench people, selfishly hooking you in, then leaving you to dangle for as long as you let yourself. The trick to making sure you don’t get benched is to be less accommodating.
“If someone seems eager but can’t make a regular plan, goes silent for extended times between messages, and just blows hot and cold in general, confront them. Tell them that you’re an adult that appreciates mature communication and consistency in a dating partner and ask them to meet that. If they make excuses or carry on with their amorous hokey-cokey, kick them into touch.” says Nichi.
Zombieing is when someone you care about disappears from your life altogether, for weeks, months or even years, to then return ‘from the dead’ with an out-of-the-blue text, phone call or social media post, in an attempt to rekindle the relationship they walked away from.
Nichi says: “Zombieing is a destructive behaviour because it’s a duplicitous one. It seems like a backhanded compliment – the zombie returns because they realised their error in letting you slip through their fingers in the first place – but it’s actually highly manipulative. It relies on you feeling ever-so-slightly flattered in order to score a second chance with you.
“But the reality is the zombie is acting out of a place of attention-seeking self-importance and demonstrating no respect for you – they’ve probably just had other opportunities dry up. Somebody who knows what they want and who knows when they’re onto a good thing, doesn’t let you get away in the first place.”
The best way to respond to a zombie?
“Don’t. They rely on hooking you back to feed their fragile ego. That’s no way to start a mutually respectful relationship. They missed their chance.” concludes Nichi.