The “slow fade” or “ghosting” is a common phenomenon running rampant in this modern, technologically driven world of dating. Those who date frequently are all too familiar with this break-up tactic, especially if they primarily use dating sites or mobile dating apps.
The slow fade is defined as the ending of a relationship by one party who removes him or herself from the other person’s life—via cancelled plans and decreased communication—until eventually, all communication ceases. The relationship ends, you take the hint after several ignored phone calls and texts, but there is no formal explanation from the ghosting party. This break up strategy is becoming almost acceptable in this age of commitment-free modes of communication.
This carelessness replaces a once common dating decency one would identify as a “courtesy call.” The abandonment of etiquette demonstrates a shift in the evolution of dating, but is it a trend that should be regarded as appropriate or worse… expected? Unfortunately, I experienced the fade after dating someone for eight months. I think we can all agree that this is the fade in the form of a “dick move,” yet many say it’s just a part of the game. Anyone who dates regularly can recognize a fade coming on. It starts with a seemingly mutual connection, several great dates, possibly intimacy, and then the opposite party stops texting and calling you first. Then there’s a sudden or drawn-out lack of response all together. One ignored text or call, two, and then you get the idea. Poof, they seemingly fall off the edge of the earth.
After surveying 100 people, a majority admitted to fading (71%) as well as being faded on (84%). When it comes to defining when the fade is acceptable, the results widely range. About 50% agreed that fading after 1-2 dates is acceptable. 17% agreed that fading is acceptable any time before intimacy, 17% said it’s acceptable at any time, and 19% said it was unacceptable—point blank. Yet, here we are, with both men and women being faded on after offering up a little part of themselves— whether that be their time, emotion, or body. It seems women pull the fade to avoid name-calling. Men pull the fade to avoid confrontation—otherwise known as the dreaded “talk.”
FSU student Kristel Jabbusch recounts her experience, “I’ve been faded on before. A guy I dated for a while would only talk to me when it was convenient for him, he would make plans with me and then not show or follow up, then act like it wasn’t a big deal. He was obviously used to girls just being okay with that. After a few weeks of this happening repeatedly, I didn’t respond when it finally became convenient for him to contact me. This made him ask why I was ignoring him, to which I responded with no reply at all. I think he got the point.”
An anonymous respondent from the survey conducted provided her opinion, “I believe that if you are dating someone and have been communicating, an explanation should be given or at least some parting words. I was the victim earlier this year and even sent a text giving this guy his “out” telling him that I enjoyed meeting him and that I hoped he found what he was looking for. You know what I got? No response. A lame excuse is better than ignoring someone. Did he think I was going to fall apart? It was only 5 dates, dude…”
Fading can be contributed to a number of factors. Busy lives, other date candidates, passive aggressiveness, failure to make a decision, fear of conflict or commitment, etc. Despite these reasons, most humans crave honesty or some explanation. This doesn’t mean telling your date that their breath stinks or they’re painfully boring. There’s a difference between honesty and harsh truth. Just relaying that you didn’t feel a romantic connection suffices—that’s not something that needs explaining.
There are some that think they don’t owe anyone anything so they use this to excuse their behavior. It’s not about a debt. It’s about being courteous. Of course there are exceptions; mutual fades being one of them, but after an extended period of time spent with someone, most would prefer honesty, or even a lame excuse, to static silence. The disappearing act would probably be less common if the faded didn’t lie down and take it without a word. Hurtful actions should be deemed as so, not expected, dismissed, and considered acceptable. If you’re old enough to be dating, you’re mature enough to say, “I’m not interested.”