You’re familiar with ghosting and zombieing, but what about the new dating trend that’s a sick combination of the two? It’s called prowling and it’s as awful as it sounds. Here’s what you need to know about it.
It starts off as ghosting. Maybe you went on a few dates with a guy you were hoping to see again and then he disappeared—gone, just like that. You’re left wondering what happened to make him go AWOL like that and if it had something to do with you. It’s horrible enough on its own but it’s just the start of the prowling process.
You work hard to get over him. Maybe you really liked the guy who ghosted you. Getting over him is tough because he left you with loads of baggage and a lack of closure. Thanks, a-hole. Still, you’re determined not to let him keep you from finding true love and you make a concerted effort to get on with your life.
Just when you turn a corner, he’s back. You were doing so well. You could hear Adele songs and not break out in tears. You could meet new guys on Tinder and not stress that they were going to ghost you just like that guy did. Then, one day out of the blue, you get a text message and it’s from him.
What now? It’s not a “hey stranger” message or even a “What’s up?” one. Those are easy to ignore. No, a guy who “prowls” isn’t just checking in to see how you’re doing because he’s bored—he has an agenda. He’s more likely to ask something direct and more specific (and perhaps even flirtatious) like, “Want to meet up this weekend?”
It makes it harder to resist him. Yes, you know he’s a jerk who disappeared on you and left your heart in pieces, but now he’s back and the fact that he’s keen to actually see you might mean that he’s not going to mess you around this time. You hope. He wants to see you! That must mean something, right? Although it’s difficult to resist him, you have to try. A guy who treats you like crap doesn’t deserve precious access back into your life.
You get together with him. Despite your BFF’s warnings and that feeling in the pit of your gut, you decide to go have dinner with this guy and it’s magic! It’s like he never left and now he doesn’t want you to leave. He’s quick to plan another date for the very next day. This type of behavior makes you think that he’s really changed and he’s interested in having something real with you this time around. Why would he be wasting his time, right?
It’s not going to last. Before you throw a party, understand that this guy’s great behavior isn’t going to last. Sadly, prowling is about yo-yo dating. One minute he’ll be super-hot and interested in you. He’ll be crazy about you and want to see you all the time. The next minute he’ll be disappearing again, perhaps for days or even weeks at a time, before resurfacing again.
It’s a toxic cycle. This guy is a loser and he’s playing with your feelings. He keeps you locked into a cycle. You’re like a hamster on a wheel. It feels like things are moving but you’re always stuck in the same old place.
You might pick up on the signs that he’s going to run. When you’re feeling blissful around this guy because he’s being present and acting like your boyfriend for a change, you might notice a few signs that he’s not as committed as you’d like him to be. For example, he might refrain from calling you his girlfriend, saying that he doesn’t want to rush. Little things like that should make you guard your heart because they could predict the next time he’s going to bolt.
Why do people do this? There are a variety of reasons why someone might ditch you only to want you back and then play with your feelings. Let’s not write this bad behavior down to a fear of commitment, though—that’s BS. No matter why someone prowls, the underlying reason and truth is the same: he’s an a-hole. Done. Move on and delete his number for good so he doesn’t have a hold on you anymore.
Stop this behavior in its tracks as soon as it starts. When a guy who went AWOL returns and seems keen on you, it’s always tempting to give him the benefit of the doubt (especially if he has a sob story for why he vanished). However, it’s important to resist the temptation. Even if he’s not exactly a prowler, the guy’s lack of consistency with you isn’t fair. He doesn’t deserve a second chance. By shutting the door when he tries to re-enter your life, you’ll be blocking any future prowling behavior so you can’t be hurt by it. It’s just better that way because a guy who truly deserves your attention won’t take advantage of it.
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