Hoorah, there’s a whole new dating trend to get paranoid about.
It's called 'orbiting', and it's basically the next iteration of that old chestnut 'ghosting'.
For those lucky enough to not have experienced it, ghosting is when someone you’ve been seeing suddenly cuts off all contact, seemingly vanishing off the face of the earth without explanation.
Orbiting takes this a step further.
Sometimes, that same person who ghosted you will keep watching all of your Instagram and Snapchat stories, retweeting your tweets, and even leaving the odd ‘haha’ comment on your photos. All while ignoring your direct texts or DMs.
And they can carry on doing this for months, or even years.
It’s downright bizarre.
Anna Iovine who coined the phrase, explained the trend, is so-called because the person doing the orbiting is keeping you “close enough to see each other; far enough to never talk”.
Which, if you’ve been ruthlessly ghosted, is really frustrating. Even more frustrating than being ghosted - which we didn't actually think was possible.
If it has happened to you, take comfort in the fact you're not alone...
So why do people do it?
Dating expert Persia Lawson tells BBC Three people may do it to keep their options open.
“It’s all about having one foot in and one foot out,” she says. “It’s a way of them showing you, ‘Hey, I’m still here’, but not getting into a relationship.
“They’re keeping communication ever so slightly open, just in case they decide they want to start things up again.”
Or they may have FOMO - that is, they feel like maybe they're missing out on you and your amazing life by not pursuing a relationship.
She adds that some people just might not realise that you can see who has viewed your Instagram Stories, but this is less valid when someone is liking your tweets or commenting on your photos.
While it’s easy to dismiss orbiters as game-players or social media amateurs, this kind of behaviour can be really debilitating for the person being orbited. It’s the worst kind of mixed signal, because the orbiter ignores all attempts at getting in touch in a meaningful way.
Persia says that she has seen people obsess over orbiters, analysing their own Instagram stories to figure out why that person has been watching them. She warns that this is a waste of valuable time and energy.
“How could you possibly have a relationship with this person? They're literally giving you breadcrumbs," she says.
Instead, she recommends hitting the block button – and not looking back.
“Just don’t be available for it,” she says. “If it’s making you feel obsessive and crazy, block them. You’re wasting your time, and there are other people out there who want to spend time with you.”
So the moral of the story is this: if they don't reply to your texts, they don't deserve your selfies.
Originally published 26 April 2018.