What is Zombie-ing in dating, trending again thanks to a viral TikTok video?

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadApr 28, 2023 | 10:18

What is Zombie-ing in dating, trending again thanks to a viral TikTok video?

The dating term Zombied is trending again. Photo: DailyO

Modern love is difficult and our instant communication tools have only made communication that much worse. There's a new dating term that's being brought to the limelight once again (living up to its name) - zombied. A TikToker from New York City, Mariel Darling, recently vented out her frustration over being zombied to her 2,55,900 followers on the platform.

Girl, you're being ghosted? I'm being zombied.
- Mariel Darling in a TikTok video


But what does being 'zombied' mean?

  • Zombied or zombie-ing is when a "ghoster" comes back from the dead to try and reconnect with you or come back into your life. 
  • We are well aware of the term "ghosting" now, be it with regard to dating or just usual communication with people around us. 
  • Ghosting is when someone you were regularly in contact with suddenly stops texting, calling, responding back, or keeping any form of contact with another person without an explanation. 
  • It is essentially as if the person "deletes" himself/herself from your life, not keeping in contact online or offline. 
  • In relationships, this is the end and it feels worse than a break-up because the person "ghosting" never gives any explanation. 
  • But being zombied is considered worse than ghosting. Because the person who ghosted suddenly rises from the dead to establish contact again, most often behaving like the part where s/he ghosted someone never happened. 

Being zombied and ghosting specifically pertain to digital communication. When you are being zombied; the person, a zombie who's come back from the dead in your life, often tries to get your attention by liking your post on Instagram or Facebook, sending a LinkedIn connection, commenting, or straight-up messaging you. 


Zombied is not a new dating trend or term. It has existed at least since 2016. And the concept is definitely not new and has existed for as long as relationships have. But zombie-ing has got a new life and character of its own with our technology-fuelled love lives. Mariel Darling is the latest one to send the term trending again. 

To be zombied is to have someone you care about disappear from your life altogether only to have them bring a relationship back from the dead with an out-of-the-blue text or interaction on social media.
- PrimeMind's definition of being zombied

Why is it worse than ghosting?

Being zombied sends confusing signals and is often hard on the person experiencing it because they aren't sure if someone is toying with their emotions. It brings back the hurt of being ghosted all over again and doesn't offer any closure.  

There are two types of ghosting according to PrimeMind:

  • Standard zombie: This is when someone you were romantically involved with, but never defined the relationship, ghosted you and then suddenly came back into your life as if nothing ever happened and s/he can pick up right where they left you hanging. 
  • Zombie ex: This is someone you were in a relationship with, but broke up and decided to consciously cut off all forms of communication online or offline as a way of coping. But the zombie ex suddenly comes back into your life through the corners of the Internet right when you were moving on from the hurt feelings. 

Right when maybe you were moving on, going on dates with someone new, you would be thrown back into those raw feelings for that person who ghosted you and all the negative emotions come flooding back. 

Why do people zombie others? 

  • The person zombe-ing someone could be a straight-up sociopath or they are just like everyone else who is not really thinking about the consequences of their actions.
  • It's also easy to forget about the consequences when someone is reaching out from behind a small screen, where the risks of being cussed out or confronted are low and easy to ignore than in person. 
  • Zombies can also be grouped into two types that can help you make a decision on what to do. 

  • There's the one with a communication problem who comes back apologising, acknowledging their bad behaviour, and offering an explanation. This is an earnest effort that can be acknowledged.
  • Then, there's another one who returns like nothing ever happened and offers no explanation for ghosting or returning. This kind of zombie most likely thinks you are a doormat, s/he can walk over whenever they want. 

What can you do if you are being zombied?

Should you respond? Should you confront the person? Should you give this person a second chance?

  • In PrimeMind, Sophia Kercher cites a concept that says that knowing or giving a name to something or someone gives you power over that thing or person. 
A common concept in history is that knowing the name of something or someone gives one power over that thing or person.
- Loren Graham, a history of science professor at MIT
  • So, it is important to figure out that you are being zombied and acknowledge it. It can be hard to realise when it happens, but the basic definition is mostly enough to come to a conclusion. 
  • The next step is to realise that you have the power of responding or not responding, or even blocking someone. It can be difficult to tread the fine line here, but it's important to note that ultimately, the decision is yours. 
Last updated: April 28, 2023 | 14:26
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