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By Sara Benincasa, writer and comedian

Halloween is frightful — but not as terrifying, creepy, chilling and (occasionally) thrilling as dating. At this most spook-tacular time of the year, beware of some of the ghouls and demons you may encounter during your own romantic adventures. It can be scary out there.

There is, of course, the ghost, a familiar spirit who may haunt you for weeks merely by his unexplained absence. He’s cute, smart, funny, kind and sexy. He likes you; he really likes you. You have a great first date, a fantastic second date and an extraordinary third date. Maybe at some point you have really fun adult intimate relations. Hooray! And then — poof! Nothing. Nada. The man is gone, vanished into the ether. Was he merely a very human-like visitation from the Great Beyond? No, he was a jerk who can’t commit to something so simple as a phone call saying, “Hey, this isn’t working out for me.”

The solution is an exorcism: Block his number, lest you be tempted to reach out between one and six times to say, “Um, hi? Hello? That trip you said you wanted to take to the world’s biggest ball of twine… are we not doing that anymore?” Unmatch, unfollow, unfriend, mute, soft-block and so forth.

Or then there's the vampire: She wants to be around you all the time. Slowly, you realize she wants to suck the emotional life force out of you. She needs all your time, all your energy, all your everything.

The only cure for the common emotional vampire is to rescind the invitation. You’re the one who invited her in, so you’ve got to be the one to politely (but firmly) tell her to go. Chances are, you let her stay around for a while because your ego needed the flattery. Or perhaps you mistook her focus on you for fascination with you. But, really, what she has is a fascination with her own wants and needs, and how you can satisfy them. Garlic and holy water won’t help you here, but a direct, well-worded message will.

Everyone fears encountering a werewolf: He’s really kind, until he isn’t. He’s really hardworking, until he isn’t. He’s really thoughtful, until he isn’t. This fellow is a true delight — most of the time. But then something happens and he flips.

That kind of guy is potentially far more dangerous to your health (mental and otherwise) than the ghost or the vampire. The ghost doesn’t like to face feelings, so he avoids them. The vampire doesn’t have a strong center and so she must feed off others for validation. The werewolf can’t handle his emotions — particularly anger and sadness — so he bottles them up until something (the full moon, alcohol, you saying something completely innocuous) triggers a full-on explosion.

The solution is to banish him. You don’t want to have to walk on eggshells all the time. With a werewolf, there may be one continual trigger for his freak-outs, but more likely there will be a few. And they will always change, and you’ll never feel completely safe or settled. I don’t care how handsome he is with that beard: Get out.

Frankenstein’s monster, on the other hand, initially seems so full of fabulous qualities and a diversity of interests. Then, slowly, you hear that she’s only into skiing because her ex-boyfriend was. She only likes this band because her sister told her they were cool. She only went to college because her friends were doing it. And do you like that one author, that one filmmaker, that one athlete, that one cuisine? Cool, now she does too, completely and totally.

Where would you like to go to eat? She’ll go anywhere you want to go. What would you like to drink? She’ll have that too. She’s not malevolent, mean, cruel or unlovable. In fact, she’s probably a truly wonderful person at heart. But she doesn’t know who she is, so she’s an amalgamation of what other people tell her she should be.

Your only out is to detach with kindness. You didn’t break her, and you can’t fix her. You’ve got problems of your own, and you’re a flawed human being like any other. If you’re looking for an independent-minded individual, she isn’t it. And she may make a lovely friend, but the chance for a codependent relationship here is sky-high. Don’t say something hurtful. It’s okay to simply say, “I think you’re wonderful and I’ve had a really nice time with you, but this isn’t for me, romantically speaking.”

Finally, pirates may seem sexy in theory — they’re tough, they’ve got swagger and they have a penchant for adventure — but in actuality, they’re people who steal things. Stealing stuff, even in a romantic nautical setting, doesn’t make you suddenly sexy and cool.

Regardless of whether this dude lives within a stone’s throw of Sexytime Cove, he’s a thief. He may quite clearly steal from you — money, food, your Starbucks gift card from your aunt — or he may do things like “forget” his credit card when the restaurant bill comes and “borrow” money for the heating bill. You don’t want no scrub and you don’t want no pirate.

Like the seafarers of yore, you've got to exile this barnacle. I don’t care how hot he looks on the yacht he probably stole from his rich friend, he must go. Let him mooch off somebody who is so enchanted with his pet parrot and eyepatch they forget to check their bank account balance. Or let him find somebody who just doesn’t care.

Whether you encounter one of these creatures, or simply somebody with garden-variety mummy issues — fine, I deserve to be kicked out of the Halloween party for that pun — it’s always healthy to set boundaries. Stay alert, stay aware, stay kind and good luck finding the treat you truly deserve. Happy Halloween, lovers!