Ex Not Giving You Space? You Might Be Experiencing The 'Orbiting' Dating Trend

Navigating the end of a relationship can be incredibly difficult. A study conducted by researchers at Monmouth University found that it takes roughly three months to actually get over a breakup, though the timeline can obviously differ depending on the person. Moving forward after being ghosted by a romantic partner adds yet another layer to this tough process.

By now, most of us are familiar with the idea of ghosting. When someone you're seeing stops responding to your messages after what you believe to be a successful start to a relationship, it can sting. If your conversations lack depth, they dodge your calls or texts, and they're not willing to make any commitment to spending time with you, you're likely being ghosted.

Ghosting is painful, but there is an added aspect to the process that can make moving past the ghost even more difficult. If you constantly find your ex-fling lurking around your social media, you may be getting orbited. 

What is orbiting?

The term "orbiting" was originally created by journalist Anna Rose Iovine. She described the process of coming up with it on her website, noting that back in 2018, a potential paramour cut her off but continued regularly checking her Instagram Stories regardless. As Iovine acknowledged, this wasn't necessarily ghosting because, "This person kept up with my life — remained in my orbit, so to speak — all without speaking to me. These actions could only exist in the age of social media apps." 

In her piece for Repeller, she expanded further on the topic, sharing that it took just a couple of dates for her date to lose interest. And yet, he continued hanging around her socials. As Iovine discovered, many of her friends had experienced the same phenomenon. A prior fling who is keeping you in their orbit will often watch you on social media, even commenting or liking your posts. Why would someone who seemingly had no interest in a relationship with you do this? There are several reasons. 

Why would a former partner keep you in their orbit?

Orbiting seems to be a power move above all else. The person in question likely has a fear of missing out on you, though they are not ready to commit to you either. As Dr. Rachel O'Neill, a clinical counselor, told Repeller: "On the surface, 'orbiting' seems like relatively unusual behavior." She suggested that, as illogical as it might seem on the surface, "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."

Social media obviously makes it possible to do this, with O'Neill noting that it allows a voyeuristic opportunity for past partners to keep tabs on you. It also gives the orbiter a chance to come back to you if they want to, by simply sending a DM or writing a comment. If watching someone keep you in their orbit through your social media is negatively impacting your mental health, smash the block button on the perpetrator. You don't owe anyone a glimpse into your life that you do not want there.