The Slow Fade
by Modern Miss Manners
Humans are motherfucking cowardly by nature. Nobody wants to say to another person, “hey dude, getting naked and every now and then sharing one or two feelings with you has been moderately ok, but honestly as of late the very sight of you has begun to make me feel queasy and I’d really rather not touch you ever again. No hard feelings!” It’s an unenviable job.
So, to be fair: I get it. The Slow Fade is a simple way of breaking things off with a person you’re not quite dating, but not quite NOT dating.
For those of you who’ve only experienced blissful exchanges in the romance department, lemme break it down for you: a “Slow Fade” is essentially pretending that you’ve disappeared off the face of the planet, and quietly hoping the person you’re ignoring will do the same. Pretending to be a ghost.
I’ve been on both ends of this exchange. It is brutal. If you’re the ignorer, you’re plagued by near-constant feelings of guilt that buzz in the back of your brain until the person whose texts and phone calls you’re ignoring finally gives up. It’s a slow, absent-minded smothering. You no longer feel any attraction toward this other human, but you hate yourself (at least a little bit, sometimes a whole lot) for being the kind of person who is apparently incapable of breaking things off. You wonder if you’ll be like this forever. Maybe you’re eternally doomed to live as a total asshole. Maybe!
As the ignored, you first wonder whether something terrible has happened to the object of your affections. Maybe they fell down a well. Maybe the ocean swept them away while they were walking along the shore, thinking of you. There are endless drowning metaphors available to drown in here, all of which seem perfectly reasonable when the other option is admitting to yourself that somebody you’re feeling feelings for just isn’t that into you. This is an acceptable few days’ worth of completely self-indulgent denial, as our egos are fragile and yes – there is a .01111111 percent chance that your beloved did, in fact, drown.
Be better than this. Text it if you have to (“hey girl, relationship terminated”), but anything is better than wondering why someone stopped calling.