To fade or not to fade

The time has come for another post from the Insomnia Club. This month’s topic is the fade, as in the disappearing man (or woman since women do it too).

In my experience, the fade has come in two variations. There is the relationship fade which is when you have been seeing someone for a while. And then there is the slightly more casual fade where you’ve only been out a few times but seem really into each other and are making future plans. Both happen essentially the same way. Slowly the calls become every few days, then every week and then not at all (or some variation of that).

I have experienced both and frankly, my opinion is the same in either case. The fade sucks.

A couple of years ago I met this guy off the internet. We really liked each other and had a great connection. We talked constantly. I mean he would call me when he knew I was at work to leave me sweet voicemails. He would randomly text me throughout the day to tell me things. I felt like he genuinely liked me and wanted to involve me in his life.

We had been seeing each other for a couple of months (give or take) and he started throwing around the girlfriend word. He hadn’t specifically asked me to be his girlfriend but I am not sure if you have to technically ask. I mean we had agreed we didn’t want to see other people and we had talked about taking our profiles down. So I really felt like this was something real.

And I was pretty damn excited. In fact, I believe I had some of the warm fuzzies.

Then, just after he started throwing around the girlfriend word his texts slowly went from several a day to one if I was lucky. I wasn’t all that worried, I mean I think it’s normal for some of that stuff to become a little less frequent otherwise you will run out of stuff to talk about. Then the texts pretty much stopped altogether. I still wasn’t all that worried because he was calling me pretty frequently. And if he didn’t like me he wouldn’t call me. Right?

Well, then, slowly the calls became less frequent until it had been several days and I hadn’t heard from him. He wasn’t even returning my phone calls at that point. After a couple of weeks it became pretty clear that I was probably never going to hear from him again.

And yes, I know that there is maybe a one percent chance that something tragic happened. All jokes aside he could have been dead in a ditch somewhere. However, I am not that naive and I figured out that I had just been a victim of the fade.

Now, honestly I was no stranger to the concept. I mean I had been out with my fair share of guys who just slowly stopped calling me rather than telling me that they weren’t interested. And while I felt it was a really crappy thing to do I generally just shrugged it off because I wasn’t that insanely attached to the guy. Plus I mean, what could I really do? Be a stalker and blow up the guy’s phone? Not the best idea at all.

But this was the first time a guy was doing it when he had actually called me his girlfriend. When there was actually something real. And I have to tell you, it hurt. It hurt a lot. I felt totally disrespected and like what (I thought) we had didn’t mean anything to him. I mean really if it had meant something why wasn’t he just honest?

I was never a fan of the fade before that situation. And I was even less of a fan of it after. Honestly, I don’t ever think there is a case when it is okay. I really do understand the idea behind it. Well, that is, I grasp the whole idea that you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or you don’t want to see them cry. But I still don’t think the fade is ever okay. Man up (or woman up). I mean really, it doesn’t take that much to be honest.

In fact, when I first moved to Chicago I met a guy from the internet. We went out on one date and he walked me back to my place. He went on and on about how he had such a great time and I was thinking good lord when will this date end. He ended up totally ambushing me and we kissed for all of a second on the lips because I pulled away as fast as I could.

The next day he sent me a text telling me he’d like to go out again. I figured I had three choices – be nice and make small talk (and then fade away), just ignore him, or tell him the truth. I thanked him but said I wasn‘t interested. He responded that he didn’t understand why and I spent the next 20 minutes or so explaining to him why I wasn’t interested over and over and over again. 

Sure it was annoying to listen to him whine that I wasn’t interested but it really didn’t take that much out of my day to just be honest with him.

Now, I am not saying you have to have a whole break up conversation with every single person that you go out with. In fact, if no one contacts anyone after a date then that’s a whole different story. I am just saying if a person is interested and you are not then don’t string them along. Appearing to be interested just to “save their feelings” only to fade away slowly doesn’t really save anything at all. It really just creates false ideas. So just tell them flat out that you aren’t interested. And if you are in an actual committed relationship with the person then definitely take the time to end it.

We all know it’s not fun to tell people we aren’t interested. Sometimes it causes people to get upset and cry a little. Sometimes they might even whine a little. But the fact of the matter is we are all grown ups here and if you aren’t interested in a person then just tell the person.

Read what the other members of the Insomnia Club are saying:

F*cking in Brook­lyn

Simone Grant

The Book of Love Was Writ­ten By A Sadist

Thank You For Your Sex

Feisty Woman

Met Another Frog


The Urban Dater

How Very Lucky To Be A Girl

Miss. Tay­lor Cast

Women Are From Mars

Totally Tyler

AV Flox

Single Much?

10 comments on “To fade or not to fade

  1. My last girlfriend split up with me over a text message and she was 39 years old at the time!

    It goes to show that for some people, that sick feeling that's felt when delivering breakup news to the other is harder to overcome and is never dependent on how ever may years of wisdom they have under their belt.

    I made the utter mistake of trying to convince her she was just feeling scared of the relationship turning into something more serious. I guess some would call that whining and begging. I learnt a important lesson that day and that is to just walk away. Why try fighting to be with someone that clearly doesn't want to be with you. And if they come back because they made a mistake. Don't make it so easy for them to just walk back in the door.


  2. Wow! I guess that's living proof that it doesn't matter how old someone is (though I have never been one to think that age equals wisdom or maturity). I agree, it's generally better to walk away. Though it's hard. I went on a date with a guy once. He talked about getting together again so I sent him a message a few days later and asked if he'd still like to get together. He told me he would "pass". My first instinct was to say something back, ask him why. But then I stopped and realized it really didn't matter why, he didn't want to get together. I appreciated the honesty and it was so much better than the next two dates I went on who pretended to be interested but then slowly stopped contacting me.

  3. I dated a guy for months who pulled this only to try reconnecting with me three months later. He claimed he became scared over the fact that he cared about me so much. My belief is that he met someone else and when that didn't work out, he tried coming back into my life. I told him flat out I was no longer interested but he still tries to contact me now and again months later.

    Not only is it childish and cowardly behavior, its disrepectiful; especially if he was calling you his girlfriend.

  4. Funny, I never heard that term FADE before, but it's perfect. I'm sort of new to the dating thing so I wonder how common it is. Seems fairly typical but so annoying.
    I guess the question is, what is the best way to deal with a fader?
    Just come out and ask what's up? Fade in return, which just makes things so awkward as you both hang out there in fading limbo land? Keep sending email/texts/calls which makes you wonder if you're driving the whole relationship?

  5. @Klaud Definitely sounds like he met someone else then maybe that didn't work out or perhaps he just realized he had something great with you and made a mistake. While I want to believe the "I'm scared" excuse. I still think it's a load of crap. In fact, that is what Mr. BST pulled on me far too many times. I figure if a guy is really that scared but cares about you then he tells you and you try to work through the scary stuff together. Kudos to you for standing your ground!

  6. @Jade As much as I hate to say, I think it's pretty common. Though I don't think everyone pulls the fade. And it's terribly annoying and it sucks. My personal opinion is if a person pulls a fade you just let them go. It seems pointless to me to try confronting them since they obviously didn't want the confrontation in the first place. Unfortunately you will probably never get your questions answered with a fader, it's just how it happens. So sad, but true.

  7. Hi Jess

    Thanks for this. Its actually my first time to have someone dump me through FADE. Like what you went through, it left me wondering and it did hurt because he already introduced me to his family and friends.. and I started to like him. Then right after that he stopped sending email, text and did not bother to call. I asked him a few times but got cold shoulder. Fine. Sayonara.

    Looking back, I saw some tell-tale signs that he's about to do the Fade because his communication has lessened. Maybe its because I didn't know he's doing the disappearing act so I was the victim here (Grr). I guess the good thing because we only dated for a short period of time (less than a year).

    It's funny because he always claimed that he's the type of person who's outspoken and talks straight. Straight my A**. He can't even say it in front of my face. My guess here is that he's dating someone now or maybe he lost interest. I do respect his decision that's why I don't even bother communicating with him anymore. Oh well. We all learn from experience.

    Thanks for hearing me out.

  8. Hi Janna! Thanks for commenting. I hate that the fade is so common. And I also hate that there is really nothing you can do other than to just walk away. Part of the thing that amazes me with the fade is that people rarely ever try to break it off. They just assume for whatever reason that the fade is the "best" way.

    It's so weird that someone would do that after introducing you to his family and friends. That to me is a really big deal. But, it sounds like you have to right idea and you are taking it well, or at least as well as you can. That is fantastic. And it's sad to say but if he's going to pull the fade he might not really be worth your time.

    Feel free to vent anytime! Thanks for the comment!

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