There’s a dating term for everything these days, but one I most recently learned of that made me groan for 4000 years before saying “fuck, YES” is ‘orbiting’.

You may already know of it. It was originally coined by Manrepeller a couple of months back. Basically, it’s the term for when someone you dated (usually a person who ghosted you or broke things off because they weren’t interested) continues to like all of your Instagram selfies and watch all your stories religiously.

I have a bunch of orbiters in my life. One in particular amuses me to no end, because he spectacularly ghosted me by way of cancelling a weekend away 2 days before we were due to go and never spoke to me again. I unfollowed him on all social platforms a few weeks later, realising he was gone for good – but he still follows me. Watches every. Single. Instagram. Story. And likes my selfies. ONLY my selfies. This has been going on for over 6 months. We never even slept together. In fact, we only went on two (2) dates.

What the fuck is with that?

Here’s why this blows my mind. If you’re orbiting someone, you had a chance to actually date them. You chose to abandon ship (orbiters usually ditch you early on, before anything can even eventuate) so logically, you probably don’t want to see an ongoing stream of photos and videos chronicling this person’s life – a person you barely spent time with, and chose to remove from your life in the physical sense. Right?

WRONG. Orbiters tend to hang around for months – some friends of mine have orbiters who have followed their lives on social media for YEARS.

So why do they remain? And not just remain – actively participate in this person they ditched’s social media life?

I have some theories.

ORBITERS LIKE THE FANTASY

Sometimes I think orbiters opt out of seeing someone because they don’t want anything serious – read: they do not want to give a fuck, or be required to give a fuck. However, they likely thought the person they do not want to give a fuck about was hot/cool/funny/interesting.

So they keep them on socials to enjoy the fantasy version of that person, because Lord knows we generally showcase our best selves on Instagram. This way, they opt out of the real us – bc no one is 100% chill 100% of the time.

ORBITERS STILL THINK YOU’RE HOT

They might not want to date you, but they do still want to look at your face/bod on the regular. This is particularly a likely motive if you have a penchant for sexy thirst traps. It kind of ties back into the fantasy theory, but this one is more about physical appearance.

This still confuses me though, because you… could still be boning this person? You prefer to just look at their abs or their pretty face as opposed to KISSING those abs/pretty face IRL? Hmm.

If you’re cool with it though, it can be a fun and zesty bit of attention every now and then.

ORBITERS WANT TO KEEP THINGS FRIENDLY

Some orbiters might just want to keep things matey. It’s pretty savage to unfollow people on social media, so I think for some they stay involved with yours to subtly say “hey! I still think you’re cool, even though it didn’t work out romantically”.

I personally think this is the RARE case – orbiters are often ghosters, and ghosting is peak levels of rude, IMO.

ORBITERS WANT THE OPTION THERE

Throwing likes and Instagram Story views your way might be a method of keeping you on the line for this guy/girl. If they’re still showing you they exist, they can happily pursue all the other single folks out there and still feel like it’s not weird to eventually DM you, you know?

It’s kind of like breadcrumbing (sending texts every now and again to remind someone you exist in case you feel like dating them again) except… stupider.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT AN ORBITER?

You’ve got three options. The first is to just let them orbit to their hearts content. Like I said, it can be a nice bit of flattery if you view it that way.

Otherwise, you can block ’em. You don’t owe this person any reason for the block! They dumped YOU, and part of telling someone “no thanks” is the likelihood that they don’t want to see your dumb mug popping up all over their Instagram every week.

The third option is my favourite. It comes via my friend Ash, who told me once that she straight-up confronts orbiters by sending them a “Hi” DM when they view her story. I love this because it’s the social media equivalent of the Erin Brockovich “they’re called boobs, Ed” scene. Namely, that you’re calling someone on the unspoken.

Image: Mean Girls