A Romanian court has ruled that a 63-year-old man, who ghosted his wife nearly 20 years ago, is dead, with no possibility to appeal that decision. Even after he appeared in court himself, very much alive.  

In 2013, after having heard nothing from her husband since 1999, Constantine Reliu’s wife justifiably assumed he had died. She sought a backdated death certificate in order to annul the marriage so she could remarry, and this was processed and granted by a local court.

A real life case of the ghoster literally becoming the walking dead

All well and good, until Turkish authorities found Reliu without legal papers and deported him. As he tried to enter Romania in January this year, he was informed that he had in fact died in an earthquake in 2003. 

Once the confusion had been sorted out, he appealed the decision and was informed that his appeal was too late and the ruling would stand. 

“I am officially dead, although I’m alive,” Reliu told local media outlets. “I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.” He is also on record as saying that after a “misunderstanding” with his wife he had “decided to break up with his family”. 

READ MORE: Vat en sit or marriage – which is the better option for you

Indeed, revenge is a dish best served cold

Another good one: last year a travelling teacher found himself in an awkward situation where his ghosted ex-girlfriend who was about to become his new boss. Apparently, ten years earlier, his girlfriend had wanted to settle down “but I was not ready to commit so young,” he said. “We clearly had different expectations from the relationship. I did not know what to do and, well, I ghosted her. Over the Christmas break, while she was visiting her family, I simply moved out and left the country.” 

He asked for professional advice and was informed that what he had done was awful and that he should resign.

He told a local news outlet that he couldn’t leave his job because there weren't any other suitable schools in the region where he works, meaning he'd have to leave the country to find other employment. Despite trying to make up with her, “I came out of this with no job, no severance and no prospect for another job in this city,” he detailed in an update, “I got my comeuppance”. 

READ MORE: Should you date your friend’s ex-lover?

South Africans are guilty of ghosting too 

Closer to home, ghosting is not new: way back in 2015 our own Charlize Theron reportedly ghosted Sean Penn, and it is certainly still a growing phenomenon. 

We did some research and discovered that not only is ghosting a common break-up technique, there are also different types of ghosting. 

Slow fade: disappearing from a relationship over an extended period of time.

Breadcrumbing: leading someone on with little crumbs of attention, but with no intention of committing.

Zombieing: ignoring someone for an extended period of time then sending them a message out of nowhere, reviving hope of a relationship.

READ MORE: Signs you haven't forgiven your man for cheating

We talked to local women who were willing to share their experiences

Nonjabulo (24) shared her own ghosting story with W24. A masters student in media studies, she spends time at home over the holidays, where she was involved with her high school crush, a guy who made it a habit to ghost her whenever it suited him.

Somehow, she explains, she was always drawn back into a relationship. The final straw was when “we picked up where we left off a year and a half back and things were good. Then last month he ghosts me again, and then I find out he’s engaged!”

KwaZulu-Natal based Nonjabulo said it turned out she was the side chick, because when he came back to her, he was already engaged. “I didn’t know and he didn’t tell me” she says.

READ MORE: "I am dating a married man and I love him"

Ghosting doesn’t end the relationship 

“Friends tell me to just bounce and don’t look back, because he’s getting married and had been playing me all this time, but I would really like an explanation; I have so many questions. Like why didn’t he tell me all these shenanigans, even just an explanation so I can move on and find inner peace.”

She reckons it’s the worst way to end a relationship, because “you’re technically still in a relationship if you ghost or are ghosted. Ghosting ain’t cool.” 

Self-proclaimed serial ghoster Vuyolwethu (27), a Cape Town based product manager, told us that she “has a problem” with ghosting her friends.

“There’s one person I always say is my best friend, but I recently realised I hadn’t spoken to her for five years” she told us. “I also just discovered my ‘other’ inbox on Facebook, it’s full of messages from friends and exes, asking what’s happened to me. Some I haven’t responded to in years!”  

READ MORE: 'She said another man's name in bed'

Social media makes it easy to ghost people 

Vuyolwethu tells us how she ghosted a boyfriend when things got serious: talk of changing universities to be together made her realise that if things didn’t work out she could end up hurt. “I don’t want to be vulnerable,” she explained. “Social media makes it so easy to ghost people. There’s no animosity, no need for an uncomfortable conversation. No one owes or is owed an explanation. Just ghost.” 

Despite being dumped in this way herself, Vuyolwethu says she will probably keep doing it. “We were really vibing,” she describes, “Six months in, he just vanished.  I didn’t follow up, but now I wish I had. I could have just gone to his home. Not knowing why made me feel angry and anxious. But when he reappeared at a party three years later, and tried to explain himself, I wasn’t interested.” 

READ MORE: Being ‘haunted’ is the new dating trend – and you might’ve done it before!

Can you avoid being ghosted?

It’s unlikely that this breakup method is going to go away any time soon. Social media and our fast-paced society makes it easy to quickly move on, but Neil Greening, account manager at the South African arm of the dating services provider The Dating Lab shared his insights with us.

He says that in his experience ghosting is more likely happen off of a dating site, after users have met in person. 

“Flirting and dating online is no different to doing it offline and there are a few 'rules' that everyone should follow in order to make a success of any budding relationship, and thus help to prevent ghosting,” he told us. 

These are the ‘rules’:

1. First impressions really count. Make sure that the way you present yourself, both online and offline, is not misleading.

2. Take your time to get to know someone before committing to anything serious. 

3. Trust your gut! The cardinal rule of online (and offline) dating is really quite simple - listen to your inner voice. If something seems wrong or you suddenly feel uncomfortable or threatened, remove yourself from the situation.

Greening added “If you have been ghosted, as difficult as it might be, the best response would just be to move on. He might have seemed like Mr. Right, but if he is not prepared to communicate with you, he is not worth chasing!"

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.