Three Realities of Being Stuck In an Ex-Lover’s Online Orbit

4 min read
Old Youth / Unsplash

Old Youth / Unsplash

Orbiting” is a dating trend that describes a situation where someone from your past, often an ex-lover or a person with whom you once shared romantic feelings, maintains a presence in your life, primarily online, without engaging in meaningful interaction.

They remain in the periphery of your life, occasionally liking your posts, watching your stories, and leaving comments, but never fully reestablishing contact or making their intentions clear.

There are several motivations behind orbiting:

  1. Difficulty letting go. The struggle to sever all ties with someone you still harbor feelings for can be emotionally challenging.
  2. Dopamine reward. Continuously checking an ex-lover’s social media profiles can provide dopamine boosts, acting as a reward for curiosity, even if it doesn’t aid in the healing process.
  3. Backup option. Some individuals engage in orbiting to keep their former partner as a potential fallback option in case other relationships falter.

While this behavior may not seem harmful at first, it can have negative psychological and emotional consequences for those who find themselves on the receiving end. This seemingly harmless digital behavior can take a turn for the worse in several ways, here are three:

1. Orbiting May Turn Into Real-Life Stalking

Orbiting often begins innocently but can take a dangerous turn. Some individuals who orbit you may become obsessed, seeking information beyond what’s available online. They might show up at places you frequent, send unsolicited messages, or try to track your movements.

A 2019 study defines stalking as repetitive conduct by the perpetrator that induces a fear of harm in the victim. It involves tactics like surveillance, life invasion, intimidation, and deception, often involving your family and friends.

Stalking can have far-reaching consequences, leading to public humiliation, life interference, and even potential repercussions for your loved ones. It can also involve threats of assault.

This shift from online to real-life stalking endangers your safety and well-being. Tread carefully and be vigilant in recognizing and addressing such behaviors. Do not shy away from bringing suspicious behavior up to your loved ones or authorities.

2. You Would Be Confused About Mixed Signals and, Hence, Stuck

Frequent likes, views, or comments from someone you once had a close connection with can send mixed signals and keep you confused.

You might find yourself questioning their intentions and wondering if they are still interested in rekindling the relationship. This confusion can keep you emotionally stuck, preventing you from moving forward and finding closure. It’s crucial to recognize that orbiting doesn’t necessarily indicate genuine interest or commitment. Rather, it creates a false perception of emotional investment.

Their constant monitoring gives the impression that they care because they are watching, but in reality, it requires minimal effort and is the least someone can do to maintain a presence in one’s life. Clinging to this false hope can hinder your personal growth and emotional healing.

3. Confirmation Bias Might Convince You That They Still Love You

Confirmation bias refers to individuals’ inclination to favor information that aligns with their preexisting expectations and convictions. It affects the choices people make regarding the information they seek or avoid, shapes their processing and interpretation of information, and influences how they remember it in their memory.

When someone continues to orbit your online presence, you may interpret their actions through a lens of nostalgia and believe that they still hold romantic feelings for you, even in the absence of concrete evidence.

In reality, orbiting can be a self-serving behavior for the person doing it, providing them with a sense of control or an emotional safety net without any genuine commitment. Clinging to the belief that they still love you can trap you in emotional turmoil and hinder your pursuit of healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

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While orbiting may seem innocuous on the surface, it can have serious negative consequences for your emotional well-being and personal safety. Recognizing these risks should prompt you to take protective measures. If you encounter such a situation, set boundaries, create distance, and seek support from loved ones or a mental health professional to manage the complex emotions it evokes.

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