If you’ve been keeping up with the current dating scene you’ve probably heard of terms like online stalking or ghosting (the act of someone suddenly disappearing and cutting contact without warning.) While online stalking is often more creepy than harmful, behaviors like ghosting can be painful and disheartening; especially when you thought you were developing a connection with someone. But things are getting even more complicated nowadays, as the latest growing trend in online dating is taking things one step further and leaving young people particularly frustrated and confused.
What is this new trend?
Orbiting is the newest trend making the rounds in the realm of online dating, and it’s already claiming many victims. The term is used to describe a situation in which someone who has ‘ghosted’ you still interacts with you indirectly on social media—instead of just ‘stalking’, which is checking your pages secretly—despite not making any attempts or efforts to speak to you or respond to your texts.
Although ghosting is frustrating because you may never get any real closure, orbiting can be worse because of the role that social media plays into this phenomenon. Someone who is orbiting can have your calls and texts blocked, but will still follow you on Snapchat and like your Instagram photos, sending mixed messages about what they want and expect. It is common that those being orbited may see these indirect interactions as motivation to reach out, even though in most cases they’ll end up with no response.
But why do people even orbit in the first place?
According to dating expert Persia Lawson, those who are dating most likely use orbiting as a way to keep their options open. By stringing someone along on likes and retweets, they are in contact with them just enough so they are seen, but still out of reach. They may want to remain on friendly terms, so it’s a way of cutting you out of their life personally, but showing that they want to be able to wave hello to you on the street. They may just be stalking and not aware that you know that they’re viewing your content. Or perhaps they may not be sure of what they want yet, but want to have a way to reach out to you just in case.
Well, I’m not currently dating, so I have nothing to worry about.
Orbiting is not limited to the dating world. Because of social media, it is easy for even friends to orbit each other, liking and commenting on each other’s pictures but never making any real attempts for plans in real life. It is a way to keep someone in their circle with the most minimal effort.
Not cool. So what do I do if I’m being orbited?
If you’re feeling frustrated by someone’s orbiting behavior, ask yourself if you’d eventually like to reestablish contact with that person. If you do, reach out to them. And if you don’t—or if your attempts at a conversation go ignored—block them right away. There is no reason that someone should be vicariously experiencing things in your life if they have no interest in having a real connection with you, and it’s better for your mental health if you don’t have to constantly be wondering about their true intentions.
With so many ways to meet people and follow their daily lives at our fingertips, it’s tempting to keep up with them. However, healthy relationships are based on good intentions and real interactions, not likes and retweets. Let’s learn to make room for people who genuinely want us in their lives and less room for those who see us a “just in case.”