Orbiting. Another Dating Problem Created By Social Media.

Orbiting. Another Dating Problem Created By Social Media.

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).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 61


    I think when it comes to dating and relationships, you live in the world of ‘should be’, rather than ‘is’.

    No judgement, I’m a bit of a ‘should’er myself.

    But because I’m actively dating, I know what to expect.

    First dates often start as strangers from the Internet. You don’t know each other. Regardless, some women expect the man to organize and pay for a fancy dinner. Men don’t want to do that (over and over) for someone they may never see again. Some women don’t care about the money, but want to at least feel a little special and like the guy has some get-up-and-go. Guys like Scott are a bit tired and sick of dealing with the entitled ones and probably organize dates through gritted teeth or at times say ‘F this, she can organize it’. Neither of which is effective. Equally, expecting a fancy dinner because you got your hair done is also ineffective. As is never reaching for the bill.

    What I find bizarre and where I’m a should er is if you’re on this blog, you can get help /advice etc on how to navigate all of this. Why people just think this is a place to whinge about how unfair it all is, is beyond me. Sure, we all get defeated at times, but I don’t have a lot of patience for people who write the same complaint over and over and take no action to improve their situation.

    Dating has always been hard (just read a Jane Austin novel). The Internet has made it both easier and harder. But it’s never been easy or without confusion or pain.

  2. 62


    “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.”

    People don’t block enough. Perhaps I’m petty, but I’m happy to block people. You act up, I’m blocking you. Hell, I’ve blocked most of the commenters on local news pages on Facebook. My latest hobby is a youtube channel I started where I review trashy kindle unlimited romance novels. An MRA wandered in there for some inexplicable reason – blocked. Too many people feel they have to tolerate things because “freedom of speech”. Lol no. That applies to the government, I don’t have to put up with that crap.

    Honestly, this orbiting shit stems from people being too weakwilled to end something. The men are too afraid to say they aren’t interested in fear of “hurting” someone, the women are aware of it but won’t cut it off in fear of looking like the villain. All of this stems from caring too damn much what other people are thinking. This is an oversimplification of orbiting, but in my experience, it seems to be the root of the problem. Another facet is people often orbit to keep that “option” on the table.

    In the end, you get what you’ll put up with. If people don’t like orbiting, they should start kicking people out of their circle and put an end to that behavior. Start blocking people. You should have at least 25 people on your block list lol.

  3. 63


    You do get the irony of what you’re saying given the type of comments you repeatedly write on here?….

  4. 64


    Yes, I guess I am a “should be”er.

    If it is just a casual first meeting, a man should set it up as such. He can let her know ahead of time that he prefers a more casual meeting.

    If she demands more, he doesn’t need to complain about giving in to it. Simply dismiss the woman as not suitable, and move on.

  5. 65


    Don’t date her. Meet her somewhere casually. That was my whole point.

    Don’t put yourself under all the pressure to organize an actual date for a casual meeting. If she expects and demands more, that’s on her, not you. Dismiss her and move on to the next.

    She’s obviously not the kind of woman you want. And you would likely not be the kind of man she wants. And it helps you to weed out those women who truly just take advantage of men, and those who simply feel entitled.

    Some women only feel like going on a date if the man feels like there is something special about her. And that’s her way of determining that. You’ll have had a few conversations (or more) before the date to find out if you guys actually click really well, or if there is something about her that makes you actually want to make an effort.

    If she’s just one of many you can see yourself doing, there’s really not much reason to meet. She’s not a casual dater, and doesn’t have interest in going on a date with a casual dater. Get to know her a bit more before you ask her out. And you can always mention that you prefer meeting in a more casual way first before you ask someone on a date. If she doesn’t like that, once again, that’s on her, not you. You did tell her that when you ask a woman on a date, it has a bit more meaning.

    That being said, if you actually do make the effort to get to know her better, then decide to ask her out based on that, and she shows up looking nothing like her picture, I’m all for blunt honesty. Tell her straight up that you’re not feeling it, and cancel the date. She deceived you, and there’s absolutely not reason for you to go through with a date at that point.

    It all boils down to you setting limits for yourself. You can always decide that you don’t casually date, either. And that you prefer to meet women casually before you go on a date. Plenty of women have no problem with that. Including the ones who take dates a bit more serious, because it makes things perfectly clear and honest.

    And you’ll end up easily weeding out those who feel entitled or take advantage of men.

    As I said, I find it mind-boggling that you would actually consider taking someone on an actual date that you haven’t even met or seen in person yet. If it’s casual, keep it casual.

    1. 65.1
      Yet Another Guy


      “Some women only feel like going on a date if the man feels like there is something special about her.”

      In my humble opinion, any women who needs to feel that a guy finds something about her special before meeting in person needs to find another way to meet men. I would never expect a woman to find something about me special before we actually met in person. Online dating is the largest box of chocolates on the planet. There is nothing wrong with taking a reserved, low-investment, wait and see approach. It is better to be surprised than disappointed. I would suspect that a woman who went into a first online date believing that the guy found something about her special would be hurt when he calls for the check after the first drink, or worse goes to the restroom before ordering the first drink and never comes back.

  6. 66

    Hi sylvana

    You said: If it is just a casual first meeting, a man should set it up as such. He can let her know ahead of time that he prefers a more casual meeting.

    He can do that, but it would need to be something like “hey I’d love to grab a drink or two after work on Wednesday if you’re free? Say 8 o’clock smiley face”.  If someone were to explain the ins and outs of why they prefer casual after  dinner…blah blah…it would come across defensive or a bit rude. Guys often have this weird line in their profile, at least in my neck of the woods, about the first date being somewhere you can both easily escape. Yuck!

    There’s an art to online dating. You definitely shouldn’t assume a stranger online thinks you’re amazing, and it would be very safe to assume he’s chatting to multiple women, but you also want to try to stand out from the pack. Requesting a phone call first, for instance. Men can stand out by following Evan’s advice around chivalry and confidence. But beyond that, it would lead to a LOT of disappointment if you placed any higher expectations on the meeting.

    And that is modern dating. I’m not sure your distinction between dating and casual meetings still applies. At least online.

  7. 67

    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?

    That’s easy – serious enough to meet, see if I look like my picture and get to know me a little. This is very, very simple. If he wants to date me to see if I match what he wants, he has the opportunity to date me by doing very low effort things – emailing me once or twice to get my number, calling to hear my voice and ask me whatever he thinks is pertinent, and if he still thinks it’s a match, to ask me on a date (preferably a no cost or low cost, short date). At every step of the process, he gets to evaluate things to verify his needs and wants are being met. He can opt out at any point.

    Another way to think about what Sylvana said is to characterize me as someone who knows what she wants and anticipates men knowing what they want also. After all, if I’m not what they want, they just skip over my profile – no harm, no foul. But if a man DOES select my profile and DOES contact me, I’m assuming it’s because he sees the potential for getting what he wants. If he doesn’t follow up, it might be because life happened, he changed his mind or he just went on an email spree at 3am one night and woke up with regrets. I’m relying on the man to tell me what he wants. My job is to tell him if I am or am not willing to provide it.

    Of course, a woman should do her best to be a good date, giving him her full attention, helping him to feel admired, respected and appreciated. These are givens. If she fails to do that, her date very reasonably won’t set up another date.

    But because men and women are different, having a woman initiate rather than respond OFTEN fails to make a man feel any of the above. This is the primary reason for not having a woman take the initiative. It might make him feel less vulnerable in the short term, or more wanted, but it will not make him like her more. If the behavior does not result in the man’s feeling admired, rewarded and appreciated, it’s counterproductive – FOR HIM. In fact, he is more likely to wonder why she is trying so hard, if she is desperate or “like this with every guy”, and like her LESS. Whereas if he approaches her, and has limited success, he is motivated to pursue more, since he got some of what he wanted – both a reward and validation. The woman’s job is to show him she IS interested, wants to know him better and to say yes to his requests. This automatically gives him the power to shape the dates in a way that gives him what he wants and needs. The man taking the initiative has the greatest likelihood of getting him what he wants. It’s a man-positive approach.

  8. 68

    Marika, YAG

    “And that is modern dating. I’m not sure your distinction between dating and casual meetings still applies. At least online.”

    Which brings us back to ScottH’s problem. If we do not make a distinction between the two, it leaves the man going through all the trouble and financial investment of an actual date for a casual meeting. So some sort of distinction does need to be made, because that isn’t right.

    That being said, I think it’s up to him to make the distinction. And to simply weed out those who won’t agree.

    What do you think about this, YAG?

    Do you think a man should plan a special dinner, etc. for a casual date/meeting? Is that what you do?

    Do men still plan dates in the old-fashioned sense, but simply expect the woman to pay as well because it’s a casual meeting?

    That all seems way too confusing and complicated to me. And completely explains all the frustration and misunderstandings around it.

    Why can’t people just clearly state their intentions, and make a causal meeting something casual, and a date a date?

  9. 69
    Yet Another Guy


    “What do you think about this, YAG?”

    I took me about a year to realize that I needed to keep things as simple as possible.  As I grew more experienced with online dating, I avoided any type of first meet from which I could not escape.   I always selected venues where there was not a second door from which to exit the venue, so I could make an escape if necessary.  For example, If I told a woman that I was meeting her for a drink at 7:30pm and she immediately ordered dinner, I excused myself, went to the restroom, and never returned.  Sadly, that kind of escape was common until I pushed the meeting time up until 8:30pm and made it clear in my profile that I never do dinner on a first meet.

  10. 70

    Hi Yet Another Guy,

    You said, “I avoided any type of first meet from which I could not escape…  I excused myself, went to the restroom, and never returned.”

    I’m asking this sincerely, “Why do you think women consider you such a catch?”

    I’m assuming you are being honest with the number of women who chase you online.

    You say you always have hot, successful, intelligent, in shape, younger (well older than me but younger than you anyway) women wanting to date you but you turn them down.


  11. 71


    I’m honestly unsure why you’re still confused. Online, in the very early stages a ‘date’ and a ‘casual meeting’ are the same thing. In that you’re meeting an almost stranger from the internet and it could be an hour if it goes badly or all night if it goes well. Evan gives advice as to how to try to make it go as well as possible, but there are no guarantees.

    You can agree, or one party can plan, for it to be as low-key or fancy as you like. If the guy wants dinner and that seems a bit much, you can suggest drinks. Or vice versa. Maybe one person will suggest a walk in the park. It varies. Where I’m from drinks in a bar is most common.

    No one announces: “btw just so we’re clear, this is a casual meeting not a date!”. Human interactions aren’t like that. So, yes, from time to confusion about how long /formal/ who’s paying occurs. But this is life. You roll with it. I certainly offer in some way to pay (reach for my bag, or ‘oh…would you like..’) and then gratefully and graciously thank them if they say no. I think it’s a little different in America but these are just normal social situations we all need to navigate.

    Guys aren’t made of money, fair enough, so like I said, as did YAG, they can make it drinks at 8.30 on a Wednesday or a free concert or whatever to ensure they aren’t paying through the nose.

    YAG, you know sites have complaint options. If someone went to the ‘bathroom’ and never came back, I’d report them. Far better to come back & say you’ve paid the bill for drinks, they just need to settle up for dinner and thank you, all the best, take care (and before you lecture me, I do the equivalent of that myself and briefly tolerate some dodgy stuff, because lying & leaving a date like that is despicable) – What goes around comes around. I had a guy date a friend and treat her badly. Unbeknownst to me I dated him 6 months later. When I made the connection I told him I couldn’t see him anymore and explained his behaviour to my friend was the reason. He tried to explain and asked for a second chance blah blah. To this day he’s still trying to contact me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *