Oh, hi there, it’s your friendly neighborhood single gal here to preach to you—once again!—about dating faux pas. You may remember me as the girl who lauded ghosting as a “totally acceptable move.” I got some interesting Instagram DMs on that subject, thanks to all of you who thoughtfully reached out. Well guess what? Karma’s a bitch, and I got ghosted. Only it’s gotten worse because I’m now the victim of ghosting’s younger, hotter sister who’s a total d-bag: Meet “orbiting.”
So, I have a crush. It’s one of those really good ones, not like the one I have on Sebastian Stan, for which I just dutifully watch Captain America: Winter Soldier every time it comes on FX and hope I’ll run into him at CVS one day (I haven’t). It’s one that just sort of happened over time, the kind of crush where you don’t even realize it’s creeping up on you. You just start stressing over what you’re going to wear when you know you’ll see him, and every time your phone dings, your heart leaps into your throat.
He doesn’t look anything like Sebastian Stan, he’s got some major baggage, and it’s all very complicated, so much so that I began to aggressively date via Tinder to try and deter myself from thinking about it.
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One night, after going on a particularly horrible date, I posted a typical, over-sharey screenshot of an iPhone note on my favorite social media platform, Instagram. He almost immediately DMed me about it. We talked for a while, about nothing, about everything. This conversation lasted for days, on the phone, via text, and via Instagram DMs. I was floating on air. I have no idea what prompted it—was he jealous I was dating? Did it spur him into action? I didn’t give one single rip. It was finally on.
We talked about our plans; we talked about music. He was going to a festival at the end of the month that had a BANGING lineup, and I had the most charming idea: I made him a playlist composed of some of the more obscure bands I’m a huge fan of (to show him how hip and obscure I am, duh) and sent it to him. I even sent it with a small disclaimer: “These are some of my favorite bands right now, so this was super easy and fun to make.”
I never heard from him again.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give it one more try. I mean, maybe the text didn’t go through, or maybe he just forgot to respond. I DMed him on Instagram and got THE DREADED “SEEN” AND NO RESPONSE. I could have died. So very embarrass.
And that, my friends, is where “orbiting” comes in.
So orbiting is when an ex or a crush or a fairweather friend ditches you yet still creeps very obviously on your social media. Like, every time you post an Instagram story, they’re watching it. They’re “liking” your posts. THEY MIGHT EVEN COMMENT ON THEM BUT REFUSE TO SPEAK TO YOU (he has not done this, I think, because, luckily for him, he knows me better than that because I would completely lose my sh*t.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. Social media EXISTS to creep on people. But you need to do it like a smart person, not a dumbass. You don’t watch their stories so your stupid little face can show up under “seen by.” You do what I do: After a hard day’s work, you scroll through their public feed while sipping on a glass of Crystal Lite lemonade and vodka. You don’t even OPEN their pictures, lest you risk “liking” them. The whole point of creeping is just that—you’re creeping, and nobody knows it except 5,000 of your best girlfriends.
Orbiting is mean. It’s meaner than ghosting. Ghosting is like ripping off a Band-Aid; orbiting is like repeatedly picking off a scab and making it bleed again. Because every time you see their stupid little face on your Instagram story, you think “Maybe he just got spooked,” “Maybe he just needs time,” maybe, maybe, maybe.
It’s mean because he’s not thinking any of those things. He is deliberately NOT thinking of you in the slightest, or he would realize that, by staying present in your social media, he’s giving you this horrible false hope that he’s going to resurface in your actual life. My mom always says to assume no one is ever thinking of your best interest except for you and maybe your mother. I agree. As with most things, she’s right, but that doesn’t make orbiting any less of a dick move.
So here’s what I say to all of my brothers and sisters who are getting orbited right now: Don’t let it happen. Block their ass. If they really want to get in touch with you, they will. They dropped you like a hot potato; they don’t get to be privy to your life anymore. Of course, do as I say, not as I do, because as I write this, I am repeatedly checking to see if he’s viewed my story yet. Because maybe maybe maybe.
Don’t be an idiot. Turn off your phone, pour yourself a glass of Crystal Lite lemonade and vodka (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), and read some Warsan Shire (she’s so good for moments like this.)
“I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.”
“And don’t forget to block his ass.”
Mikayla Park is a teacher/nonprofit creative person residing in the slums of Beverly Hills. Find her and her two charming rescue dogs, everywhere at @mikaylapark.