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Orbiting is the Latest Dating Trend We’re Ready to Ditch

Robyn Exton

Oct 04, 2023

Orbiting is the Latest Dating Trend We’re Ready to Ditch

Even though the term orbiting may remind you of a sci-fi movie, it isn’t about spaceships or galaxies far away. In fact, it’s about something a lot closer to home.

Imagine this: you’re minding your business, scrolling through your phone, when suddenly you get a notification from an ex you haven’t spoken to in months or even years. Maybe they liked a recent photo, reacted to your story, or even wilded out enough to tag you in something.

Confusion sets in. Your mind might start racing with a million questions like, “Did they do that on accident?” or “Why on earth would they do that?”

The answer is often quite simple: they are orbiting. Sticking around just enough not to be forgotten or allow you to move on fully.

Feeling curious? Hold tight! We’re about to explore the mental impact of orbiting, identify its signs, and compare it with other online dating trends like ghosting and submarining. Plus, we’ll guide you on how to steer through these situations.

Understanding orbiting in the digital dating world

The world of digital dating is as vast and mysterious as a geostationary orbit. Among its numerous terms, ‘Orbiting,’ coined by Anna Iovine, stands out for being both fascinating and confounding.

In essence, ‘orbiting’ refers to an intriguing behavior where someone seems to disappear from your life but stays present on your social media. This person leaves you hanging in real life yet pops up whenever notifications about your Instagram stories or Facebook posts come alive.

This is a phenomenon that blurs the line between staying connected and giving mixed messages.

The psychological implications of orbiting

This type of behavior has significant implications for our mental health because it creates confusion, encourages confirmation bias, and plays with human nature’s need for closure.

It feels like they’ve had a change of heart when they’re liking posts or watching Instagram stories even after disappearing from our lives; however, there’s often no clear direction things are headed towards – leaving people stuck within their own white noise of questions about each other’s intentions.

Social beings we may be; still seeing an ex’s actions pop up regularly can make healing harder post-break-up due to the false sense it offers that they’re still around – at least digitally.

Signs of orbiting: How to know if someone is orbiting you

Orbiting is kind of like being ghosted but with an interesting twist – the person who ghosts you still keeps tabs on your online activities. Some of the most common signs you’re being orbited include:

Frequent interaction with your posts:

If someone has stopped communicating directly but frequently likes or reacts to your Facebook posts and Instagram stories, it might be a sign they are orbiting you. The same goes for leaving comments on your posts.

Maintaining social media presence:

Another key indicator can be found in their overall social media presence. If they’ve gone quiet elsewhere but continue interacting with you, this could indicate that they’re intentionally keeping themselves within your digital line of sight.

Watching (or worse, reacting to) your stories

A subtler form of orbiting involves viewing all your Instagram or Snapchat stories without ever sending direct messages or commenting. This provides people with a false sense of continued connection while giving mixed messages about their intentions.

Liking old photos

If someone starts liking photos from way back when, then it’s another sign pointing toward orbiting behavior. Especially if these actions occur after some change of heart where real-life interactions have ceased.

Ghosting vs. Submarining vs. Curving vs. Orbiting

Navigating the new dating landscape can be confusing, especially when understanding behaviors such as ghosting, submarining, curving, orbiting.

Understanding submarining in dating

Submarining, for starters, is when someone you’ve been seeing disappears without explanation (like they’ve dived underwater), only to resurface after some time as if nothing happened. This can leave one feeling perplexed and wounded.

The nuances of curving in online (and irl) dating

Moving on to curving, it’s all about the artful dodge. Instead of direct rejection or disappearance like submariners do, ‘curvers’ keep sending friendly but non-committal messages – just enough to make you think there might be hope yet.

The dreaded ghosting treatment (with a twist?)

In contrast is ghosting, where your romantic interest simply vanishes from your life abruptly and completely—no calls, no texts…poof. But here comes an interesting twist: imagine being ghosted but still noticing them watching every single one of your Instagram stories? That folks are what we call ‘orbiting.’

This term was coined by Anna Iovine; it describes this weird behavior where people break up or stop talking altogether yet continue lurking around each other’s social media world—a perplexingly power move indeed.

  • Ghosts vanish completely.
  • Submariners disappear but resurface eventually.
  • Curvers avoid commitment subtly.
  • Orbiters ghost you but continue to hover in your digital sphere.

Dealing with orbiting can be a challenge for one’s mental well-being, but there are ways to manage it. Recognizing unhealthy orbiting patterns is the first step. You may find someone lingering in your social media world after a breakup or expressing interest while staying just out of reach.

Michaela Thomas, an expert in relationship science, suggests setting clear boundaries with those who orbit you. It’s okay to ask them not to view or like your posts if it makes you uncomfortable.

But sometimes, setting boundaries isn’t enough, and that’s when limiting social media exposure comes into play. This could mean hiding their stories from appearing at the top of your feed or even blocking them entirely. It might seem drastic, but remember – no one has any right to disrupt your peace.

  • Coping with orbiting involves boundary-setting and seeking support.
  • Sometimes blocking someone on social media can effectively cut off contact with an orbiter.

Your well-being should always come first; never let anyone else’s actions impact how you feel about yourself. If all else fails and healing becomes harder due to constant notifications popping up reminding you of them, consider reaching out for professional help.

Orbiting isn’t only talking about our exes

It’s important to remember that orbiting isn’t confined solely to romantic partners or the dating scene. Family members, friends, and even colleagues can orbit one another. However strange it may seem in real-life terms, in the digital realm of social media platforms and dating apps like HER – where user profile views are often transparent – it has become a ubiquitous part of our online interactions.


What does it mean when someone is orbiting?

Orbiting refers to the act of ghosting a person yet still interacting with their social media posts. It’s like you’re gone but still lurking in their digital world.

Why do people orbit?

People might resort to orbiting for several reasons: maintaining an emotional connection without commitment, keeping options open, or avoiding direct confrontation are some common ones.

What is the psychology of orbiting?

The psychology behind orbiting stems from a desire for validation and attention. Orbiters can also struggle with closure after ending relationships and use this method as a coping mechanism.

How are orbiting and ghosting different?

Ghosts vanish completely while Orbiters stick around digitally. Ghosts cut off all communication; Orbiters stay engaged by liking your posts or watching your stories on social platforms.

So, you’ve dived deep into the digital dating phenomenon of orbiting. It’s a puzzling dance where exes or former interests keep an eye on your social media world without direct interaction. This behavior can stir up confusion and impact mental health.

You’ve learned to spot the signs – those incessant likes, story views, and radio silence in your DMs. Remember that orbiting isn’t exclusive to romantic relationships; it lurks around friendships too. We’ve also compared other confusing dating trends like ghosting and submarining. But no matter what name we give these behaviors, setting boundaries is key.

Above all else, understanding these patterns allows us to navigate our digital interactions more wisely. Because, at the end of the day, online spaces should enhance our lives rather than cause undue stress or anxiety.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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