Whether you’re the one who ended the relationship or the one who had to endure the whole “It’s-not-you-it’s-me/let’s-just-be-friends” thing, breakups are tough. Even breakups that are conducted in the most dignified way possible — as in, no tires have been slashed and no stuffed animals heads have been torn off and mailed to the other party — can seriously sting. Who wants to keep rehashing the awkward-at-best breakup conversation? Who wants to see the look of pity on your exes face, or, worse, have to feign one for the person you just dumped? If you hate confrontation of this sort, there’s a new relationship ending technique that you might get on board with. It’s called “the fade”, and it’s the best way to breakup with someone without ever having to have “that talk”.
The relationship fade is essentially when, instead of having that horrible breakup conversation, one simply “fades out” of the person that they have been seeing’s life. Let’s say that you’ve been on a handful of dates with somebody and by date six, you’re just not feeling it so much. You could call that person up and tell them that they are just not your cup of tea anymore, or you could subtly drop out of their life. Say you made plans with that person twice a week, consistently, for three weeks. In a relationship fade, your plans would get further and further spaced out until you’re only making plans in theory. You make plans without any firm dates or times, and there will always be an excuse as to why you can’t firm up your schedule. You’ll definitely go see that improv troop at their next show, once your cousin heads back home from his visit. You’re definitely up for a movie sometime next week once work slows down. Yeah, you can grab coffee once you get over this bad case of the sniffles.
With a fade, you’re telling the person that you’re seeing that you do still enjoy spending time with them and want to continue — even though your physical actions say the complete opposite. The next step is to only communicate with the person via the lowest forms of communication possible. That means completely skipping things like calling and texting and going straight for liking their Instagram photos of cleverly themed cupcakes (because liking personal photos seems too, well, personal) and favoriting tweets that quote movies you kind of like. This is just enough communication to make you not seem like a total douchebag for icing them out, and yet, not enough to make it seem like you actually want to follow through with any of your theoretical plans.
Some people, however, won’t accept the fade right away. Some will assume that because you’re consistently contacting them — even in the most benign, non-committal ways possible — you are actually interested in continuing to date them. If these actions seem to suggest that they should contact you to firm up said theoretical plans, you can always return to the first step and re-enter the fade cycle. Eventually, they’ll start to miss you less and less, and stop trying.
The benefits of the fade? Well, for one, no one gets their ego bruised — not the person you’re dating, and, most importantly, not you! Because breakups suck, the person who did the dumping is often seen as the “bad” person in the relationship. And who wants to be the bad person in the relationship?
But here’s the major problem with the fade. The fade allows the fader to remain blameless while they confuse the hell out of the person on the other side of the relationship. (Just an FYI, anyone who attempts the fade in a serious relationship isn’t going to get away without blame — if you’re serious with someone and you attempt this when you have a plethora of other options, you are officially awful.) Yes, fading out of someone’s life — especially someone whom you are only seeing casually — seems like a nice way to save you and the person you’re dating from having to endure a potentially awkward and painful conversation. And, in many cases, it is. If you’ve only been out with someone a couple of times, there really isn’t any harm in casually making yourself a little less available — in fact, in that case, it’s probably the more polite route to go down, considering that it’s more awkward to assume that the person has already decided that they want a serious relationship with you.
The trouble with the fade is that many people rely on it to avoid ending something that simply isn’t working out on their end. Because the fader acts as if nothing is wrong, it’s incredibly confusing for the person they are dating — it’s difficult to discern whether the fader is seriously busy (because, hey, that does sometimes happen) or whether they are really just blowing them off. It’s not fair to leave someone hanging because you’re too afraid to look bad in their eyes, or to make them feel uncomfortable. Yes, there are plenty of people who will get the hint — but what about the ones who don’t? Those people are just left wondering whether or not you’re actually still dating while you’ve already emotionally cut all of the ties.
Ultimately, as much as it will suck to hear, it won’t be a tragedy if you have to spell out that you’re no longer interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with the other person. But unless we have some serious reason to distance ourselves from the person we have been seeing (yes, I am aware that there are situations where it’s safer or more reasonable to bow out of a relationship without a major announcement) can we all agree that honesty is the best policy? I mean, at the end of the day, being broken up with is really just a great excuse to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in bed, Katy Perry style. Don’t take that away from people.