Yes, it's a thing.
Guys ghost you, and then, they think it's fine to still kind of stay in your life with the stray "like" on social media every now and then.
It's annoying, but it makes sense. It's kind of like the most passive form of breadcrumbing: A guy doesn't want to have you in his life fully, but he also doesn't want to lose you completely, so he makes sure to passive aggressively insert himself in your mind.
It happened to 24-year-old Maya* with a guy she was casually dating for six months.
"He would always tell me that he wanted a relationship but never followed through," she explained. "Eventually, he ghosted me."
But ever since he ghosted her, something weird has started to happen. "When we were 'together,' he never liked any of my Instagram pictures. But now that we're over — no joke — he has double tapped every single one of my pictures."
The same thing happened to 23-year-old Allison* with a guy who had ghosted her years ago.
They had been hooking up for a few months while she was in college when he ghosted her. Now, it's three years later. She has a boyfriend and lives across the country from him.
"I logged onto LinkedIn a few weeks ago and saw that he tried to connect with me. Then, I go on Instagram, and he followed me there, too."
And it didn't just stop with the follow requests. She explained,
He literally likes every single one of my pictures and even went back and liked pictures I posted from before he was following me. He even likes pictures of my boyfriend and I. It's weird and, honestly, kind of creepy.
Brooke*, 23, had a similar situation with a guy who started ignoring her texts out of the blue while they were dating.
She tried calling him out, saying, "I texted him saying, 'Hey, it's the girl you appear to be ghosting for some reason.'" He told her his new puppy had bit their neighbor, so he was "too depressed" to socialize with anyone. She believed him and gave him time to come around once he got over the dog drama.
But he never reached out to her again. And in her words, "it became a true ghost."
It was only then that the likes started pouring in. They had followed each other on Instagram a few weeks ago while they were still dating, but it wasn't until after he ghosted her that he started liking her pictures.
"He didn't like any of the pictures I posted while we were dating," she said, "but after ghosting me, he liked a mirror picture of me in a tight purple dress and a picture of a bar with two glasses of champagne, both of which I posted after he ghosted me."
Apparently, it doesn't just happen with guys you're casually dating either. Brittany*, 25, was ghosted by her ex-boyfriend.
Even though they were broken up, they would still stay in touch, and he'd dangle the possibility of them getting back together in front of her.
"We communicated often via text, and he would fall off of the face of the Earth for months and still like my photos and posts on Facebook," she continued. "Every time I posted a super fleeky photo, he'd give me a call or send the 'hey stranger' text like he wasn't the one who fell off on me."
She finally caught onto his tricks and told him to stop speaking to her completely. "I don't have time for that BS."
GOOD FOR HER.
To be clear, all the examples I use here are from women because they were the only people who came forward to share their experiences.
But I'm sure there are PLENTY of women out there who have ghosted men and stayed in their lives by throwing out a like here and there. I'm sure I've even been guilty of it in the past.
As the ghoster, it's no sweat off your back. You don't like the person. You're not the person who was hurt. The only hurt you might be feeling is a slight sense of guilt that you hurt the person's feelings.
So, you shoot out the likes to keep your options open, to let them know there's part of you that still thinks they're cute and maybe to ease your guilt about disappearing so suddenly out of their life.
But what you're doing is so much worse than ghosting them in the first place. Whether they've moved on from you or not, it's a lose-lose situation.
If the person has moved on, you're just coming off as creepy, pathetic and desperate. If the person hasn't moved on, you're hurting them about a million times more than you did when you initially ghosted them by giving them false hope.
Please, for the love of God, LEAVE THEM ALONE. LET THEM MOVE ON. You've already done enough.
Now, if you're the one who's being strung along like this, I have some words for you, too. If their constant liking is really bugging you, block this loser on all your social media channels.
The minimal high you get from the like is not worth the subsequent low of remembering his existence.