Orbiting. Another Dating Problem Created By Social Media.

Orbiting. Another Dating Problem Created By Social Media.
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I’m REALLY glad to be a middle-aged married guy.

I stopped dating in January 2007 when I met my wife at a potluck dinner in Beverly Hills.

The first iPhone would be released later that year.

Texting was around but it wasn’t ubiquitous. Same with Facebook.

Instagram came around in 2010. Tinder didn’t launch until 2012.

And here we are, as lonely and disconnected as ever. Social media sites that were designed to connect us now cause an equal amount of pain and confusion.

And here we are, as lonely and disconnected as ever. Social media sites that were designed to connect us now cause an equal amount of pain and confusion.

The latest term of art from this digital dystopia? Keep reading:

“Prying eyes on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can be exciting when they come from a prospective romantic partner, confusing when unrequited and infuriating when the looker is an ex. In the last case, it’s as though the specter of a Relationship That Could Have Been is peeping over your shoulder, keeping tabs without having to commit to any real-world interactions.

Naturally, there is a name for this 21st-century phenomenon, which has joined ghosting, Netflix and chill, breadcrumbing and other recent entries to the dating lexicon. It’s called orbiting.”

I’d probably call it cyberstalking, but whatever you call it, it’s a thing that afflicts modern daters who are tethered to their social media.

“The way it feels to be orbited depends on your relationship to the orbiter. When you’re interested in the satellite entity watching your social media activity, orbiting brings an endorphin rush, the feeling of being circled by someone you want to get closer to.

But when it’s bad, it’s bad. There’s the frustration of wondering why an ex would rather watch your life than be part of it. There’s the disappointment when someone who has been orbiting for some time never  does  get any closer. And there’s acceptance of the hard truth of all digital romance: Eventually, the relationship must be taken offline, or brought to an end.”

I’m an advocate for online dating but when relationships PRIMARILY take place in a virtual world, you’ve got a real problem. Liking photos on Instagram is not dating. Texting is not dating. Talking and seeing each other in person is dating. You should accept no substitute – no matter what everyone tells you about how things are different now.

Concludes the article:

“Regardless, it’s a fact that dating is confusing, and orbiting can make that worse. Small online behaviors are infinitely interpretable, making it impossible to understand where you and another person stand. The lurking of a potential connection makes you wonder whether they’ll ever materialize in person. And the orbiting ex only serves to keep you mired in a shadow version of the relationship, wondering, each time he or she views one of your Stories, what happened or what could have been.”

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    No Name To Give

    Using the block option will cure that quickly.

  2. 2
    S.

    Fascinating. I’m not on social media, though I did just join LinkedIn for job search purposes. I’m hardly on, though. I do remember this sort of thing when online dating. All the lookyloos, as we called it back in the day. In the end, viewing or liking a photo doesn’t really mean anything. I only count when someone uses words to communicate with me. I learn a lot from people from what they choose to write or say.

    People still use Snapchat? Seems so 2016 to me. 😉 I don’t use social media but I know what the platforms are.

    I don’t get orbiting. From the article: “I felt the urge to send subliminal messages via my Instagram Stories, knowing that was the only way I could communicate with him,” she said.”

    I could sound shocked but I’ve been there. I’m not on social media, but I have tried to send messages like this even though dating profiles. Posting photos to convey the message, ‘look at me, I’ve moved on!’ in case an ex is still looking. But generally, that meant I was 1) spending too much time in that account and online in general and 2) spending too much time thinking about that dude.

    I don’t think it’s stalking because the person isn’t actually doing anything. If they are just viewing it could be that it appears in their feed and they simply aren’t bothered to delete the person. Liking is a bit more active, but it’s not actually doing anything, either. Like if in real life I walk by a guy (or a guy I went on a couple of dates with) and he eyes me in my dress. That’s it. He likes the dress. He likes to look. That’s it. He hasn’t actually done anything. I keep it moving. Online I’d do the same thing.

    Breadcrumbing is way more confusing because the person actually does something and then stops. But I’m game to that now too so if they stop twice (for any reason), I’m out. I just don’t have time or brainspace to think about folks that do this stuff anymore. Clear communication is all I can really deal with at this time.

  3. 3
    Emily, to

    S.,

    Breadcrumbing, low-level orbiting, zombieing … it’s a variation of the same theme and a woman just needs to ignore men who do that. They just want attention. TTMO. Time to move on.

  4. 4
    Yet Another Guy

    @S.

    Have you ever extended a “like” to a guy in whom you are interested instead of sending a message? I received countless “likes” without receiving messages, and I am guilty of having extended “likes” without sending messages. The problem here is that the rules of engagement have not caught up with the medium.

    Now, the problem with orbiting on non-dating sites is just weird. However, male orbiters are not a new phenomenon. They existed long before social media. They are the guys who hang around hoping that a woman will notice that they are a catch and make the first move, so that they do not have to face active rejection.

  5. 5
    Nissa

    YAG,
    Remember though that female ‘likes’ serve a very different purpose than male ‘likes’. Female likes are an indication that she would welcome contact or a message. They are a prompt for further action on the part of the guy that she has ‘liked’. It’s the equivalent of dropping a hanky. Male likes, I’m guessing, are a way for men to keep track of potential interests. Any contact resulting from that ‘like’, while an ego boost, is a LOT less likely to result in a relationship or in equal interest. It is a lot more likely to result in no response from the guy, lukewarm response, or a sexual only interest response.

    Therefore, the rules of engagement remain the same, at least on dating sites. A ‘like’ on Facebook probably just means she likes cat memes.

  6. 6
    No Name To Give

    YAG,

    Except most women know that.

  7. 7
    Yet Another Guy

    @Nissa

    “Remember though that female ‘likes’ serve a very different purpose than male ‘likes’. Female likes are an indication that she would welcome contact or a message. They are a prompt for further action on the part of the guy that she has ‘liked’.”

    Really? You do know that that view of “likes” is a sexist double standard? The same can be said for a man who extends a “like.” The “like” mechanism is not asymmetrical. Whether extended by a man or a woman, a “like” is an indication of interest. If women are not willing to follow their “likes” up with a message, they should not be surprised when the only men who reply to “likes” and do the heavy lifting are players/opportunists (i.e., those who are looking for easy sex). If a woman does not want to initiate, she should sit back and wait until a guy finds her interesting enough to initiate contact without being prompted, as that is more true indication of genuine interest. I am glad that my current girlfriend did not have this sexist view of “likes.”

  8. 8
    Marika

    Why do guys befriend hot women they will never meet (way too hot, celebrities, live too far away etc) on social media? I briefly dated a guy, he sent me a FB friend request and before I accepted, I scrolled through his friend list. 90% of them were random hot chicks with filtered or staged photos he clearly wasn’t actual friends with. So I thought it was weird and didn’t accept his request. He ended up being a compulsive liar and we stopped dating. But…

    Since then I’ve seen male friends etc scrolling through their feed and, again, lots of pics will be women in bikinis with duck faces. What’s the deal? Do they think if they like enough of the woman’s pics she might sleep with him?

    Or is it just like watching porn? And it’s just fun to look?

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Is it just like watching porn? And it’s just fun to look?”

      Yes and yes. If you can understand this, you will have a lot more success with men than women who think that this is some sort of deviant and aberrant behavior.

  9. 9
    MilkyMae

    If you take the time to write a creative and informative profile, “winks” and “likes” are kind of insulting. There’s a mismatch in effort.

  10. 10
    ScottH

    @YAG #7
    I’ve seen two profiles where woman have stated that they are women and therefore they will not pursue but if they send a “like,” that indicates they are receptive. Yes, they explicitly stated it that way. Dating is full of double standards. Why does this surprise you?
    (Evan- do you know that when the “reply” button is clicked that nothing happens?)

  11. 11
    Evan Marc Katz

    Hmm. Testing.

  12. 12
    Marika

    Thanks for the response, Evan. Good to understand that!

    PS Scott is right. If you try to ‘reply’ the text goes all weird and it doesn’t work.

  13. 13
    S.

    @Emily, to

    Zombieing? I don’t wanna know what that is!

    @YAG

    Have you ever extended a “like” to a guy in whom you are interested instead of sending a message?

    Yes, but it usually went nowhere.  If I wasn’t motivated by the profile enough to write a message as well, I wasn’t that interested.  Some guys do have interesting costumes/photos, though.  But again, there has to be something to actually write about.

    And yep, some people are lookyloos.  They just want to look.  And yes, it’s like porn.  There used to be peepshows back in the day.  Now there are instagram photos, I suppose.  Same instinct, updated medium.  I don’t think either is deviant.  Most people like visuals and are turned on by them.   They may not even want more than that at the time.

  14. 14
    Nissa

    Yep, my ‘reply’ button is not working either. No weird text, just does nothing when I click on it.

    This ‘double standard’ is nothing new. It’s not a vile conspiracy to manipulate men. It’s not even that women don’t want to initiate. It’s that they have tried it and found it a resounding failure to achieve their goals. It’s a function of, as Jeremy said elsewhere, women’s unhappiness with their success with men when they initiate contact. They get something they don’t want – a mildly interested or mostly indifferent male contact, who is still probably mostly interested in sex – and almost always fail to get what they do want – a guy who is interested in them at an equal or greater level. That’s the reason for the failure to follow up with a message. It’s not a desire to ‘shift the work’. It’s that it creates a non desired result.

    The reason that a woman does bother to ‘like’ men is that, sometimes men are just a little shy and need a bit of reassurance. In person, a woman would move closer to him so that he doesn’t have to be as vulnerable, cross the room and make his move in plain sight of his friends, risking having to slink back across the room as a failure if he is rejected. A like is equivalent to moving closer – the woman is making his overture easier and less of a risk, yet it is not considered an overture to the degree that it is received as masculine (as a message does, and in fact, is).

    You might argue that “mature men don’t do that”. I’d say, most of us are not at our most mature when it comes to being vulnerable, especially with someone that we like.

    A woman that wants to stay in the feminine would not be served by choosing masculine or chasing behaviors. After all, women are supposed to stay in their feminine energy, right? One could even go so far as to say, the male ‘like’ is a shit test. How far will this woman go to capture my interest? It’s just an electronic version of real life.

    1. 14.1
      ScottH

      “It’s that they have tried it and found it a resounding failure to achieve their goals. It’s a function of, as Jeremy said elsewhere, women’s unhappiness with their success with men when they initiate contact. They get something they don’t want – a mildly interested or mostly indifferent male contact,”
      This is exactly what happens to guys 99% of the time that we initiate contact. And on top of it, we have to shoulder the expense not to mention the fact that women are told not to initiate communication but only to reply when we initiate which confuses the shit out of me. This is what disinterested people do so how am I to distinguish between an interested person and a disinterested person when they act in almost the same way?
      the reply button worked this time.

  15. 15
    S.

    One other thing.  I wasn’t always a paying member of a site so sometimes liking or winking is all you can do to show interest. Once a few people liked or replied back I’d pay up.   Really after six months online I’d seen all the newest people and were down to the regulars.  Some are still on there!  Including a few I dated.  At that point, I’d unsub again because I was down to folks that weren’t interested in me and/or vice versa unless I played around with age or distance to get different folks.

  16. 16
    kris

    Ugh!  Yes this resonates with me.   My guy and I broke up because he wasn’t opening up emotionally.  The relationship had stalled. He was aware of this too and was unsure why, so we split.   But now, I see he continues to look at all variations of my social media. I don’t get it.   I’m not one to post much but if I do, he’s seen it.   I guess I feel…let him look, I’m still living my full life and he’s just missing out by not being a part of it 🙂

  17. 17
    Marika

    S.

    I’m not understanding your points regarding online sites? New people are always joining up. And why are you surprised they are still on there? Being online for months, years is nothing to be ashamed of. We go online, meet people, try dating someone, it doesn’t work out and we get back online. Rinse repeat. That’s dating. It’s actually quite brave to keep taking the hits and disappointments and getting back out there (or ‘on there’ !).

    Quite a few guys have “I can’t see your likes as I’m not a full paying member” in their profiles. I get that they are trying to say they aren’t being rude for not liking back, but it also comes across as though they aren’t that serious and are a bit lazy.

    Personally I think if you are online dating you have to take it seriously and commit to the process (including paying the subscription if there is one). Not sign up halfheartedly and only really commit to it if someone else takes the initiative for you. Or be surprised people aren’t finding love in 6 months.

  18. 18
    Noone45

    Eh, Evan might clock me, but I’m going to say it: I look down on men who have friend lists or instagram feeds filled up with bot models. You gotta be an idiot to not realize most of those photos are poached from the real user. These are generally phishing ops. I’m not anti-porn, but you’ve got to be a dolt to open yourself up to that kind of security risk. I don’t want to recall how many calls I’ve done were I’m fighting some horrid malware that went all the way to the root cause some dumbass clicked a link from a Russian spam bot on social media.

    As for orbiting: I’ve experienced this, just block them. I also get random dudes that follow me on instagram oddly enough. Ignore it and keep on doing you.

  19. 19
    Yet Another Guy

    @Nissa

    “It’s not even that women don’t want to initiate. It’s that they have tried it and found it a resounding failure to achieve their goals. It’s a function of, as Jeremy said elsewhere, women’s unhappiness with their success with men when they initiate contact. They get something they don’t want – a mildly interested or mostly indifferent male contact, who is still probably mostly interested in sex – and almost always fail to get what they do want – a guy who is interested in them at an equal or greater level. That’s the reason for the failure to follow up with a message. It’s not a desire to ‘shift the work’. It’s that it creates a non desired result.”

    You do know that that is yet another sexist response? Do you think guys always achieve the goals that they want when they initiate contact? Women can be luke warm about a man as well, but still go out with him as long as they can get something out of the deal. I can assure you that men get used when their interest in a woman is greater than the woman’s interest in them; otherwise, the manosphere would not exist. Rejection and less than equal interest is a two-way street. I am sick and tired of women complaining that they do not get the men they desire when they are not willing to risk active rejection. Rejection is part of the game. My current girlfriend initiated contact with me. She liked a photo I had up where I was playing lead guitar in a band when I was younger and wrote “I want to meet the guy in that photo.” It was enough to show interest in something other than my height, educational attainment level, income, or attractiveness level. It was targeted at a part of me that has been a part of me since my teenage years, a part of who I am at my core. Guess what? She is still with me seven months later whereas the women who made me do all of the heavy lifting because they played by the sexist script are history.

    If a woman is genuine when she reaches out to a man and demonstrates interest in something that is unique about him, something he truly values, there is a high probability that she will receive a genuine response. However, if a woman is surface when she reaches out, her response is going to be like a box of chocolates. Do you know what my response was to my girlfriend? It was “If you like lead guitarists, I may be your man.” She replied, “That is the best response I have received on this site.” I did not attempt to blow smoke up her butt. I did not lay the charm on thick. She is four years my senior. Yet, she got my attention because she demonstrated interest in something other than my height/build, income level, educational attainment level, or any of the other nonsensical things women chase on dating sites when it comes to men. The moral of the story is that if you want a man, speak to his core, not his attributes. He will know that you are interested in him, not what he can provide. You will earn his respect and place you in a select group of women.

  20. 20
    Marika

    ScottH

    You’ve been writing variations of your same point up above (reply still not working for me) for years.

    Mike gave a few ideas on another post (the one with the video and the shouting guy on the pic I think). Including organising free/very cheap dates for the first couple to gauge interest and get clues as to her character.

    Nissa is extreme in her stepping back/feminine energy thing.  Most women don’t love making the first move, but will definitely start to plan things, initiate texts/calls etc. at least sometimes as you get to know each other. Or at the very least warmly thank you for your efforts. If you’re finding women never do that, I would consider approaching different types of women!

    I’m really getting over the endless whinging on here…both sexes do it…but Evan is giving out lots of useful info about mindset, tools, what is and isn’t reasonable.. and so many people just seem to want to use this blog to vent about their personal issues. Ugh!

    1. 20.1
      ScottH

      Marika- Yes I have been whinging for years about mixed messages, double standards, and gross inequities in dating. Isn’t that why we all come here, to whing about those things?

      Like YAG, the last woman I dated was unlike most of the rest of the women I’ve met. She was clear and consistent and did not play by a lot of the rules that most women play by. Before I got a chance to ask her to meet for a drink, she extended the invitation (yes, I felt like she beat me to the punch but I appreciated it). I specifically told her that I would like to meet for a drink after dinner but the day of the meeting she said that she would show up hungry. Yes, I was a bit pissed but didn’t show it. When the bill came, she said that she invited me and that she would pay. I took the bill and paid with a smile, all of it. As we were walking to her car, she suggested meeting again before I mentioned it. I’d say that she was acting in the masculine role but I don’t like to think of it that way. I just really appreciated that she didn’t play the usual bs games of sticking to gender roles specific to dating. It was really refreshing to deal with someone like that. And she didn’t hesitate to call or text first.
      Contrast that with most of the other women who say that they would like to get together but cancel and apologize profusely and suggest another day but never respond. Mixed messages. Or those who expect you to polish the ground they walk on. Or those who unapologetically stuff their faces (or try to) on my dime in the name of chivalry and then label me as cheap when they refuse to pay. Yes, I have been whinging about those things for years. And yes, I plan free or low-cost dates whenever I can, which is not all the time living in a climate that is cold and dark half the year.
      If you want to meet quality guys like me and YAG, you should take lessons from the women who catch us.

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