‘Orbiting’ is the new ‘ghosting’
JUST in case you thought it was safe to leave the house and go on a goddamn date, it turns out there's a terrifying new dating trend to bring fear into your ever-hopeful heart.
"Orbiting" is being called the new "ghosting" by a number of social commenters (ghosting became such a part of our lexicon that it was added to the Urban Dictionary in 2006).
The term "orbiting" was coined by a writer at the Man Repeller website, who penned the fear-inducing headline "Orbiting is the new ghosting and it's probably happening to you".
Writer Ann Iovine gives an example of a recent dating experience to illustrate the new trend.
"I started dating a man - let's call him Tyler - a few months ago. We met on Tinder, naturally, and after our first date, we added each other on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. "After our second date, he stopped answering my texts. I soon gathered it was over, but in the ensuing days, I noticed he was watching every single one of my Instagram and Snapchat stories - and was often one of the first people to do so.
"A couple of weeks later, after still no correspondence, I decided to unfollow/unfriend Tyler from all three social platforms. On Facebook and Snapchat, that meant we could no longer see each other's content, but on Instagram, no such luck.
"It's now been over two months since we've spoken, and Tyler not only still follows me on Instagram, he looks at every single one of my stories. This is not ghosting. This is orbiting."
Iovine says that the more she discusses this behaviour with her friends, the more she realises it's a thing - people "keeping you in their orbit ... close enough to see each other; far enough to never talk".
These individuals keep tabs on the other party through social media, with no intentions of engaging in meaningful conversation or dating.
The BBC asked dating expert Persia Lawson why people may behave this way.
She says it's a sign that someone wants to keep their options open.
"It's all about having one foot in and one foot out," she says. "It's a way of them showing you, 'Hey, I'm still here', but not getting into a relationship.
"They're keeping communication ever so slightly open, just in case they decide they want to start things up again."
Iovine also hypothesises that some people might just be a bit clueless and not realise that it's possible to see who has viewed your Instagram stories and Snapchats, though this theory flies out the window when it involves an individual liking your tweets or commenting on photos.
She also says that this may be a sign of FOMO (fear of missing out), and by that she means fear of missing out on you and your excellent life and amazing relationship potential (amen).
Lawson warns that while an optimistic person may interpret orbiting as showing interest, these people aren't keepers.
"Just don't be available for it ... If it's making you feel obsessive and crazy, block them. You're wasting your time, and there are other people out there who want to spend time with you."
But it turns out not everyone is on board with the new buzzword.
Over at Vice, Jaik Puppyteeth (if that even is his real name) writes: "I have some issues with orbiting, as a phenomenon.
"Essentially, an Orbiter is a ghost you can still see. Some people would kill for the ability to be able to see ghosts. Just because someone did a sh**ty job at ghosting you doesn't mean they need to get classified into a whole new category.
"I don't think it's as intentional and malicious as it's being described. I think orbiting is just reading too far into the residual social media connections of a relationship after it's fizzled out.
"Just because you can see the ghost of hookup's past in the corner of your eye doesn't mean they're mocking you on purpose. It means they are bad at ghosting.
"If you get the impression that they aren't considering your feelings enough to have the decency to ghost you completely, maybe the problem is you."