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.

Join our conversation (76 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 41
    Marika

    S

    All fair enough. Sorry, I think I misunderstood your first post. Love the word Lookyloo btw. Every time you write it I giggle. I’m the type of naive idealist who has gotten caught up with Lookyloos/Textyloos for months. Now I’ll have to remind myself *LL/TL alert. Danger, danger* 😉

    Lynx

    Yes! The people who come here specifically to tell the opposite sex – Do this. For me. Now.

    Really?

    And why exactly? And who are you again?…

    I’m all for understanding men. But it’s a losing strategy to come on here and tell women (/men) how to be whilst completely blind to your own shortcomings and with no clue as to how you’re coming across (angry/whingy/narcissistic/jealous).

    Sharing experiences, getting advice, brain storming strategies, laughing over the usual suspects in dating, are great (we’ve all come across the flake, the golddigger, the texting phantom, the ghost, the orbiter). But the Poor Me’s. Or It’s Everyone Else’s Fault’s? Annoying AF. And you can easily figure out why dating might not be going well for them. Not that they are interested in solutions about how they could change strategy or mindset.

  2. 42
    Marika

    Nissa

    I think when you write what you write it reminds guys of the women they dated who didn’t lift a finger or a wallet. Like when some of the guys write about just wanting sex – it can conjure up bad memories for us of guys like that. I can see where they’re coming from.

    Granted, you don’t whinge. You seem to be okay with being single if you can’t find someone as masculine- energy as you need. So your preferences are your business. But I can definitely understand why your comments are rubbing men the wrong way. It makes it sound like your very presence is their reward. And while I can see you aren’t entitled, it sounds entitled. And reminds them of women who are.

  3. 43
    Emily, to

    ScottH,

    How are you to distinguish between an interested person and a disinterested person when they act in almost the same way?

    Tom10 had a post on this. I’m probably forgetting some of it, but …

    1.) Is she responding to your texts/calls quickly? (no more than 12 hours)

    2.) Is she accepting dates or counter proposing a time/date if she cant’ go? Are the dates at regular intervals? (meaning you don’t go on one date and then she puts you off for another 3 weeks for a second but your time spent together is regular and increasing over the weeks)

    3.) Is she taking initiative after the first few dates in terms of communication, suggestions to do things and offers to pay?

    4.) Are things progressing physically? I don’t mean you’re diving into bed but something should be happening.

  4. 44
    ezamuzed

    Marika
    Can I let you into a little secret? People suck at dating. Men, women, probably gender fluid bisexuals. Everywhere. Suck, suck, suck. Evan will retire a rich coach.
    People suck at dating because they attach an outcome to dating. When people just take a step back and try to enjoying meeting new people, listening to their stories and just having fun it becomes easier.
    Complaining about it is like complaining that winter is cold.
    IMO the most unhappy people are those who have a need to be victims. They just site around and complaining about everything and everyone else instead of trying to change themselves for the better.

  5. 45
    Emily, to

    Scott H,

    How are you to distinguish between an interested person and a disinterested person when they act in almost the same way?

    Also,I can tell when a man is or is not interested just by watching his behavior and I don’t mean just that he calls again and asks me out. I went out with one guy once who I could tell wasn’t interested. We went to dinner and a movie. It was only 9:30 after both were over and he didn’t suggest doing anything else. Also, when he walked me to my car, he made a point of putting physical distance between us. I stood at the driver door while he was standing by the front wheels. I’m certainly not always right but sometimes the signs are right in front of you.

    In another instance, two guys I used to work with and had chatted with asked me out … by having someone else do it. Wouldn’t that be because they probably already knew the answer? I was pleasant when they talked to me but not flirtatious, not encouraging, not extending the conversation because I was trying not to give them the wrong impression.

  6. 46
    S.

    @ Marika #41

    Textyloos!  LOL.  We are coining new dating phrases!  I don’t text (I know!) but I do succumb to the emailloos because I love the written word.  Interesting that I’ve found a lot of mutual attraction through e-mails.  Not just the words, but the frequency and depth of response.  Those usually led to great dates!  Some of the e-mailloos didn’t, though.  In hindsight, I will admit those were more a matter of quantity and frequency of e-mails, than quality of e-mail.  It’s surprising because sometimes it led to awesome dates and sometimes it led to . . . nothing.  But better than a lookyloo. 😉  More of a chance of going somewhere.

    I still think I let that stuff go on too long and have to watch it even now.  Actions matter more than anything else honestly.  Then . . . I did like more of  passive person because those folks were just a bit less pressure and it gave me more space to feel comfortable with the guy.  But that didn’t mean I really knew him that well.  Just made me more comfortable to flirt and stuff.

  7. 47
    Marika

    ezamuzed

    I think detaching from the outcome, as difficult as it is, is a good skill to try to master.

    Also not taking it all so personally.

    Some people share their stories on here with this sense of outrage like they’re the only ones who’ve ever been on a bad date. Then they tell the daters ‘sin’ and I shrug like, really, that’s it?

    I once had a date turn up drunk, disheveled and 20 mins late. Oh and he texted me on the way to the date asking if I brought clothes to spend the night (first date!). We had mutual friends so I had to be nice to him and sit through a couple of drinks. I’m pretty sure he drove there too. Another guy flew interstate to both meet me and spend time with his Dad (his choice). Nice gesture so I offered to pick him up at the airport. He had zero conversational skills in person. I drove 30 mins both ways, after around an hour in a nice pub with me paying my own way and desperately trying to make enough conversation for both of us, he gets a phone call, gets all weird, tells me his friend is coming to meet him and he’ll walk me to my car. Umm okay..? Never heard from him again. (He was probably married).

    Is any of that stuff personal against me? Nope. My only learning experience from those dates is to have better boundaries. I shouldn’t be giving people like that the time of day. But I do and that’s me and they’ll continue to be ridiculous daters. That’s life. I could write a book But I can’t change the whole male population into Marika-friendly daters.

  8. 48
    Emily, to

    Marika and S.,
    “I still think I let that stuff go on too long and have to watch it even now.”
    I was reading on another dating advice site that if a guy is heavily flirting with you/communicating with you — whether in person at, for example, the gym or through email or text — and hasn’t asked you out and moved it forward in about 2 weeks, it’s time to move on. I think that’s a good rule of thumb. I can’t tell you how many times a man has heavily flirted with me, only to find out 6 weeks later he’s married.

  9. 49
    Jenn

    I don’t allow any guys I date access to my online profiles other than dating sites. If they ask why, or ask to friend or follow me, I tell them I don’t post on Facebook or Instagram, I don’t have a Twitter, Snapchat or Whatsapp, and I don’t Skype chat. I give them my Google voice number so they can’t Google me from my real one. The only way they can get in touch with me is by text, and even then I don’t answer idle chitchat. I only respond to date requests. I don’t have time for any of that stuff and that way, the time wasters weed themselves out pretty fast. So the tech stuff really doesn’t bother me much! It’s so much more peaceful that way.

  10. 50
    No Name To Give

    Noone45,

    I’ve noticed the bot/scammer accounts have been really uh active on Instagram recently. You’re right, best to just block and move on. I get the orbiting phenomena – for those accounts that aren’t fake – is like looking at porn. Ok, go ahead and look at someone other than me, ergo the block.

  11. 51
    Marika

    Emilyyyyyy

    I think guidelines are fine, but only applicable to some. Some people need them to stop giving every flake and his dog the benefit of the doubt. But some people hold onto guidelines like they are hard & fast rules. I’ve learned that by reading some of the nonsense on this blog. The 10 commandments of dating. Punishable by death.

  12. 52
    Lynx

    Ezamused

    People suck at dating because they attach an outcome to dating. When people just take a step back and try to enjoying meeting new people, listening to their stories and just having fun it becomes easier.

    I think detaching from the outcome, as difficult as it is, is a good skill to try to master.

    I wonder if mixing up terminology would help? As in, maybe don’t think of it as “dating”, but as “meeting new people”? At least the first time you get together in person, anyway. Now that I think of it, my now-boyfriend called it a “meet”, not a “date”, which took the pressure off.

    I recently did this in the job search world. I loathe networking, but it’s a necessary evil. As I forced myself to do it, I realized it’s the word I dislike — it sounds calculating and insincere and selfish and slimy. So I switched to thinking of it as “connecting”, and found it far easier and more fun.

    Semantics, I know, but it might help some people.

  13. 53
    Emily, to

    Marika,

    I think guidelines are fine, but only applicable to some. Some people need them to stop giving every flake and his dog the benefit of the doubt. But some people hold onto guidelines like they are hard & fast rules. I’ve learned that by reading some of the nonsense on this blog. The 10 commandments of dating. Punishable by death.

    I was watching a Matthew Hussey video on youtube (Lawd, that man has good hair  🙂  ) and he talks about people you meet who maybe get your number but flake or keep making excuses to get together. What you do is shift them into low investment because that’s what they are giving you. However, low investment doesn’t mean bad energy. So you don’t text back if they’re giving you obvious excuses not to meet up: “Great story, bro. Have a a good life.” Instead: “It’s all good. Have a good week.”  🙂   So you’re not an asshole but you’re not investing and you’re moving on to other options. Because, as he said, winners don’t wait. (I love that.) At some point, if that person wants to step up and make more investment in you, you might do the same but not until that point. And I’d say if they do invest more in the future but then start flaking again, you’ve given them, as you always write, the benefit of the doubt and they obviously can’t be consistent.

  14. 54
    sylvana

    Evan,

    “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.”

    The women who consider this deviant and aberrant behavior, as well as the women who understand this, but don’t feel like tolerating this, or simply find it pathetic would hardly call it a success to land men like this. Success only matters if its in something that you actually want.

    Sure, every woman can be successful with men if she simply tolerates everything about him she doesn’t like. Successful does not equal happy.

    How does a woman build any sort of intimacy with a man who spends more time every day drooling over other women (whether through porn, pictures, or social media), than he does looking at her? In addition to all the ones on TV and in everyday life? All that diversion of attention leaves very little left for her.

    You seem to think women are complaining about an every-now-and-then situation. But that is no longer the case. It’s an every day, all throughout the day occurrence.

    1. 54.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Then don’t tolerate it. Nuance matters. The idea that every guy who indulges in porn for masturbation is an addict is as silly as suggesting everyone who drinks socially is an alcoholic. Don’t waste my comments section with straw man arguments; you’re too smart for that.

  15. 55
    sylvana

    Sparkling Emerald,

    “(a hold over from my early adult years, when men REALLY did want to pay, and considered it insulting if the woman offered)”

    I remember those days. That’s what it was like back when I dated. It was actually considered insulting for a woman to offer to pay.

  16. 56
    sylvana

    ScottH,

    “but initiating, planning, paying, etc. can be a lot of work.”

    This is where I get totally confused with this modern dating scene. All that effort is something you make when you want to take a person you know you would like a relationship with out on a “date date” to see if you can make it happen.

    With other words, a date that actually means something.

    Why would you go through all that trouble for a casual hang-out (the modern version of date) that serves as nothing more than a) to see if you can talk her into bed, or b) seeing if there even is anything about that person that you might like enough to consider taking them on an actual date that means something.

    Simply take her to a park (or something similar) that serves as something for you guys to do and makes getting to know each other secondary. Pick a few spots that would work around where you live, then keep using them. No planning needed, no money needed.

    It also serves the purpose that you’re not treating a casual meeting like a “date” that actually means anything. So the woman won’t get the wrong impression.

  17. 57
    sylvana

    Marika,

    To me, it just seems like Nissa takes dating a bit more serious. And expects men to be a bit more serious about it if they want to date her.

    Rather than going on a never-ending string of casual meetings disguised as a date.

    I don’t see the purpose of putting date efforts or pressures into casual meetings either.

  18. 58
    sylvana

    And could someone please explain to this old and technology challenged person how in the world you would even know if someone “orbits” you online?

    I mean, even if they friend or follow you (or however that works), how do you know that they’re actually paying any attention to any of the stuff you post?

    And a lot of stuff you can view without even having a profile yourself.

  19. 59
    Emily, to

    Sylvana,

    The women who consider this deviant and aberrant behavior, as well as the women who understand this, but don’t feel like tolerating this, or simply find it pathetic would hardly call it a success to land men like this. Success only matters if its in something that you actually want.

    I agree that “liking” 30 women’s profiles isn’t so much deviant as it is kind of pathetic. At least porn is a means to an end. It serves a purpose. But “liking” women you have no intention of meeting or would probably not have the guts to talk to in real life or have no chance with. Why bother?

    And for a woman who receives the likes or the “i like your instagram pics” comments … it doesn’t mean anything. The attention is so lightweight, it floats off into the ether.

  20. 60
    ScottH

    @Sylvana #57
    “To me, it just seems like Nissa takes dating a bit more serious. And expects men to be a bit more serious about it if they want to date her.”
    How serious do you think a guy should be about dating a woman he hasn’t yet met and doesn’t know and doesn’t even know if she still looks like her pictures?

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