“I love it when people ghost me!” – said no one ever. Ghosting (the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication) is a dating behavior that no one likes to be on the receiving end of. However, there may be something that’s even worse than ghosting. Meet “Orbiting.”
According to Urban Dictionary, Orbiting is when the person who ghosted you, continues to linger in your life by watching every single one of Instagram stories and liking/commenting on your social media posts. In other words, instead of allowing you to get over and move on from their initial rude behavior (ghosting) they stick around your social media as a reminder that they’re not willing to return your texts, but they will take time out of their day to watch every single video that you post of your cat. Go figure.
The term was originally coined by Man Repeller’s Anna Iovine, who experienced it firsthand. Iovine had added a guy to all her social media after their first date. However, after going out a second time, the guy stopped answering her texts — but continued to watch all of her Instagram stories despite his ghost-like behavior. Therefore keeping Iovine “in his orbit” as her friend called it.
Iovine has several theories as to why a person may choose to orbit. One of the guys she spoke to for her article saw it as power move — rejecting someone, but keeping them on the outskirts of your social circle. It’s “a not very subtle way of letting them know you’re still on friendly terms, and that you’ll still say hi when you inevitably see them at the bar. It’s kind of like how you stay friends with your cousin on Facebook for the sake of Christmas and Easter gatherings.”
It could also have something to do with FOMO (fear of missing out). As Dr. Rachel O’Neill, a licensed professional clinical counselor and Talkspace tells Man Repeller, “part of this orbiting behavior is really related to the underlying FOMO. The person might not necessarily be ready to commit to a relationship; however, there’s a concern that if they were to completely eliminate contact with you, then they might miss the opportunity to reconnect with you later on.” It’s essentially the dating equivalent of putting a pair of jeans on hold at the mall even though you’re 75% sure you’re probably not going to go back for them the next day.
Iovine also hypothesizes that the person also could just be clueless and not see their lurking behavior as an issue. As someone who has been orbited in the past (the man who ghosted me a year and a half ago insists on liking one of my Instagram photos every six months), my only wish is for “orbiters” to realize how annoyingly selfish their behavior is. Although it’s vaguely flattering, I’d rather someone ghost me for good than linger on the sidelines.
Think you might be dealing with an orbiter or are at risk of becoming one? Here are a few things you can do.
- Block them on social media.
There’s no rule that just because you shared a personal relationship that you have to give them a lifetime pass to your social media accounts. If seeing their name on your Instagram feed bums you out, block ‘em.
- If you’re not interested in someone, be definitive about it.
If you’re not feeling the other person, kindly let them down. If you think they’re wonderful but you’re not in a place to have a serious relationship, communicate this clearly to them and let them go. It may sting at the moment but it’s 100% better to have a clear idea of where you stand with someone than being ghosted. If you’re meant to stay friends or become more in the future, it will happen organically.