Why It’s Time To End The Dating “Slow Fade”

You think you like someone, go on a few dates, get excited about where things could be going and then… they gradually trickle out of your life — without explanation. We’ve all been the victim of it, and most of us have done it to others: “The Slow Fade,” also known as “Ghosting.”

It’s an ambiguous, drawn-out, tortorous method of communicating “I’m just not that into you.”

Here’s an all-too-common scenario: You’ve gone on three or four dates with a new potential special-someone, maybe dinner, drinks and perhaps a movie. You may or may not have had sex yet. But, it’s been six days since your last date and that person hasn’t been in touch. So, you call and the following conversation takes place:

“Hey, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, I’m just super busy with work. The head of my department is coming next week and we have to finish this project.”

“That sounds so stressful. Let’s go see the new Seth Rogen flick on Friday night when you’re all done.”

“I can’t. I have plans.”

“Saturday night?”

“I’m not sure, can I get back to you?”

Friday night comes, you call said lover, but the call goes to voice mail. Frustrated, you send a text:

“Hey, hope that project went well. Are we still on for the movies on Saturday? That Rogen flick had awesome reviews.”

You finally get a text back 20 hours (not minutes) later.

“I can’t. Maybe next week.”

“Or we could go to happy hour on Wednesday at that place where we had our second date?”

“Let me get back to you.”

Two weeks go by and you don’t hear back. You stalk the person’s Facebook and there have been no evident deaths in the family.

“Hey, how have you been?”

You never hear from that person again. Congrats, you were just ghosted.

Ghosting is a fucked up thing to do and have done to you. To paraphrase a certain television show’s opening credit, “When are we going to stop being polite and start getting real?”

Why do we avoid saying, “You’re just not the right person for me?”

While I’ve been ghosted my fair share of times, there was one instance, where I could have easily been ghosted and I wasn’t, which made life a whole lot easier. I had two dates with Jared.* He was cute, fun and polite. Jared appeared to be a nice guy. I didn’t really think I was going to be the future Mrs. Jared, but I was at the point in my dating life where I was trying to give people a chance. After I few dates, I didn’t hear from him. So, I sent a text to find out what was going on. He told me he had gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend. Maybe it was true. Maybe it wasn’t. We hadn’t slept together yet and maybe all he wanted was sex. Either way, it was good to know I could cross him off the list.

In an interview I did with the awesome Kira Sabin (an amazing life coach who works with singles), she made a really good point about men who ghost and how as women, we need to band together to stop this egregious behavior:

As a gender, women need to help each other out. For example, nobody should fall off the face of the earth. If you can’t tell someone you aren’t interested after two dates or two months, you shouldn’t be dating. You need to check yourself. There are things women are doing that aren’t setting themselves up for success. And if we keep doing this, men are going to think it’s OK.

However, as women, we know we ghost too — and we should think about this carefully. In all relationships, good, bad, romantic, platonic, familial and even professional, we need to make bold decisions — whether it’s telling a friend she’s made a bad wardrobe choice, creating boundaries with our families (“No Mom, I can’t pick up your calls in the office”) or simply telling a co-worker, “I’d rather drink cyanide that have lunch with you today” (okay, maybe you could tell your co-worker that in a nicer way). But the point is, we need to stop being afraid to speak up about our needs — in all aspects of our lives.

Logan Levkoff, who appears on Married At First Sight, also makes a very good point about ghosting in an interview with The Huffington Post:

If your potentials keep disappearing, take a step back and look in the mirror (unless of course, you are the ghost, in which case, owning a mirror would be quite silly). Ask yourself these questions: “Is there something with the people you’re meeting? What do they have in common? What are you looking for that’s causing the same outcome over and over again?”

So, maybe if you keep getting ghosted, there’s a reason why. It could be that you have a huge personality flaw or you keep doing something that turns people off. Or maybe you’re picking the wrong people. Or maybe, at the core of it, we’re all just too fucking lazy to deal with our feelings. In a world of swiping right, communication via emails and texts, it’s just a whole lot easier to ignore a situation than to face it head on. But we shouldn’t just ignore people. We need to pull off the ghosting band-aid and just be brutally honest with each other — for our relationships and for ourselves.

*Name has been changed.


This post by Amanda Lauren originally appeared on Ravishly and has been crossposted as part of our new collaboration with them.

6 thoughts on “Why It’s Time To End The Dating “Slow Fade””

  1. Yes! My friend and I were just discussing this. She had been casually seeing this guy and he called her up, cancelled Halloween plans, and told her that while he enjoyed her company he didn’t see it progressing. She was upset, of course, but was also thankful that he was so upfront with her. She didn’t have to spend days or weeks wondering what the hell was going on.

    Honesty. It’s a good thing. :)

  2. Unfortunately it still remains one of the safest ways to extricate oneself. In a perfect world, people would graciously accept rejection and go have Feelings in private.
    In Reality Land, a flat-out, “no thanks”, or “I don’t like you that way”, is constantly met with “whhhhhyyyyyy???” at the most benign, tears, tantrums, or violence. For a shy or retiring or just-starting-out-the-dating-scene person, all of those are terrifying responses.
    I tend to follow Captain Awkward’s advice in these matters. Try twice, then the onus is on them. If they don’t get back to you, they are either too busy (and don’t like you) or don’t like you.
    It’s hard, but I don’t believe anyone “owes” another person an explanation, and it won’t make rejection better.
    Yes, stringing someone along is wrong, but I don’t think a slow fade is. In truth, a lot of times it’s because the person is “not sure”. They don’t actively hate or dislike you, but they aren’t feeling that extra spark. But if the person is perfectly fine and nice, you can feel as if you owe them dating points for that or something. Which … well, it’s up to them whether they like you enough to put up with lukewarm or if they decide to grow up and find someone who matches them in intensity.

    The examples you gave are not a slow fade, they’re a no thank you.

    1. ^This! I just don’t feel like having to explain to someone why I’m not interested in them. Why can’t I just say “I’m not interested” and let that be it? I don’t need to deal with analyzing and explaining and playing therapist. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been “screamed” at (via text, with lots of caps and exclamation points), listened to sob stories about how this keeps happening to them, and guilt trips to give them another chance. It’s too draining.

      I am all in favor of people, men or women, being able to say “I’m not interested in pursuing this any further” only to be met with a polite acknowledgement and acceptance from the other person. “Ok. Thanks for your honesty. Good luck to you.” and be done with it.

      Hell, I’m having to ghost someone now and there hasn’t even been a first date (and never will be.) Someone gave me their number on two different occasions and both times I told them that I just didn’t have the time and energy for dating. The third time I ran into this person, they asked for MY number since I had never texted or called them. I hesitantly gave them my number (I just moved to a new town and thought maybe making a new friend was an option). They called me within 10 mins, before I even got to my car, spent the entire evening texting me, texted me first thing in the morning, calls me even though I said I am busy on certain nights….so I’ve just stopped answering. Ghosting is the only choice I have left.

  3. Honestly, I’m so used to it that the one time a guy actually WAS dealing with a crazy situation at work, by the time he got back into contact, I’d started seeing someone else. In my defense, things were very casual before the craziness and I happened to meet a new guy really quickly which almost never happens.

    But it is fundamentally dishonest to string someone along and prevent them from making other plans (in the example, preventing her from catching the movie with a friend, a new interest, alone even) just because you can’t be bothered to say no. I should keep that in mind myself, since I probably do it more than the guys I date.

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