Stop Trying To Spare My Feelings With A "Slow Fade" Breakup

I know you think you’re being nice by not explicitly stating that you’re not into me, but let’s be honest, no you’re not.
Publish date:
September 27, 2013
breakups, Dating

We all know when it’s happening but it’s something no one has ever accepted right away. The Slow-Fade. It hurts every time someone does it to you and more and more, it seems to be the accepted method for ending an unwanted romantic (or physical) relationship.

For the lucky few of you unfamiliar with the slow-fade, let me map it out for you. I’ll try not to become filled with rage and throw my computer across the room as I relive its misery.

Just a quick side-bar before we dive in: anyone is capable of the slow-fade. I have been slow-faded by dudes and ladies alike, so let’s all put down our “boys are the worst” hats and chill out.

What is the slow-fade?

It starts innocently enough, you meet a nice person, you hit it off, maybe you head straight to bone town or maybe you have some self-restraint (I’ve never personally cared for the stuff) and you decide to go on some dates. Things seem to be going ok, you text every couple of days, talk about hanging out that weekend.

Thursday rolls around, you make loose plans for Saturday night, on Saturday at like 7 when you still haven’t heard anything you send out a message, no reply. On Monday you get a “Sorry about this weekend, I got super busy,” text, “No worries! Let’s try for next weekend” you say, “For sure,” the object of your affection replies. Then… nothing. (The prolonged slow-fade is when this process occurs multiple times over the course of several weeks to months. It’s also known as: “Bitch get a clue, it’s not happening.”)

You can’t quite figure out what happened because… nothing happened. It’s almost like your paramour ceased to exist. You don’t want to follow up with a “What happened to you?” because that might seem desperate but mostly, because you know exactly what happened. You got slow-faded and it effing sucks.

What is wrong with the slow-fade?

The slow-fade is cowardly and at its root, dishonest. Just say “You know what, I think you’re a super down girl and all, but I’m just not feeling anything here, no hard feelings.” I would be SO FINE with that. I would cherish that. I would keep that text as long as my phone would let me. I can do something with that. I can file that experience in the “Tried it, didn’t work out, not my fault,” category.

You know what I can’t do anything with? Nothing. When you disappear into the ether without any indication why, all I can do is come up with a million and a half reasons why you’re not into me. Until you close the door and close it completely, I can hold on to that tiny unrealistic shred of hope that you DO still want to hang out, and that maybe you’ll call (text, who am I kidding, nobody calls anymore and I hate it) and it’ll all be great.

Maybe that’s on me, maybe I just need to be better about reading signals and taking hints and then moving myself on once I’ve interpreted all those signals and hints, but ya know what? That sounds like a lot of work for me and I’m not a god damned mind reader.

What should one do instead of the slow-fade?

If you’re not interested in me, please, for the love of god, just say so. And if we hook up but you have no intention of ever seeing me again, don’t pretend you do. I know you think you’re being nice by not explicitly stating that you’re not into me, but let’s be honest, no you’re not. What you’re actually doing is protecting yourself from a potentially uncomfortable conversation.

You’re worried that I’ll get hurt and thus, I will freak out and have feelings all over you. Will you hurt my feelings? Sure, yeah, of course. I’m not a robot. If you tell me that you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, it’s gonna sting. But ya know what? That’s my problem and I’ll get over it. Just know that whatever the internet / television / movies / music / your idiot bachelor Uncle Ray has told you is going to happen is in fact NOT going to happen if you’re just straight with me.

What will happen is that I’ll appreciate the fact that you had enough respect for me and my feelings to be honest and up front with me. I will feel validated that you had enough deference for whatever we had (even if it was just one night) to know that it needed to be ended in a mature and thoughtful manner. In turn, you’ll never receive another drunk text from me offering you [redacted for parental viewing] at 2am just in case I’ve still got a shot. (Your loss.)

Maybe I’m off base here and everybody else is fine with never getting a definitive “no” but what can I say, I don’t like loose ends. I think this idea that women need to be treated like roadside IEDs primed to explode in a cloud of ice cream, James Blunt and tears in our Chardonnay is reductive and lame. We’re all grown ups here doing grown up shit, so let’s treat each other that way.