No longer must we suffer the slow-fade in silence.

We all know when it’s happening but it’s something no one has ever accepted right away. The Slow-Fade. It hurts every time someone does it to you and more and more, it seems to be the accepted method for ending an unwanted romantic (or physical) relationship.

For the lucky few of you unfamiliar with the slow-fade, let me map it out for you. I’ll try not to become filled with rage and throw my computer across the room as I relive its misery.

Just a quick side-bar before we dive in: anyone is capable of the slow-fade. I have been slow-faded by dudes and ladies alike, so let’s all put down our “boys are the worst” hats and chill out.

What is the slow-fade?

It starts innocently enough, you meet a nice person, you hit it off, maybe you head straight to bone town or maybe you have some self-restraint (I’ve never personally cared for the stuff) and you decide to go on some dates. Things seem to be going ok, you text every couple of days, talk about hanging out that weekend.

Thursday rolls around, you make loose plans for Saturday night, on Saturday at like 7 when you still haven’t heard anything you send out a message, no reply. On Monday you get a “Sorry about this weekend, I got super busy,” text, “No worries! Let’s try for next weekend” you say, “For sure,” the object of your affection replies. Then… nothing. (The prolonged slow-fade is when this process occurs multiple times over the course of several weeks to months. It’s also known as: “Bitch get a clue, it’s not happening.”)

You can’t quite figure out what happened because… nothing happened. It’s almost like your paramour ceased to exist. You don’t want to follow up with a “What happened to you?” because that might seem desperate but mostly, because you know exactly what happened. You got slow-faded and it effing sucks.

What is wrong with the slow-fade?

The slow-fade is cowardly and at its root, dishonest. Just say “You know what, I think you’re a super down girl and all, but I’m just not feeling anything here, no hard feelings.” I would be SO FINE with that. I would cherish that. I would keep that text as long as my phone would let me. I can do something with that. I can file that experience in the “Tried it, didn’t work out, not my fault,” category.

You know what I can’t do anything with? Nothing. When you disappear into the ether without any indication why, all I can do is come up with a million and a half reasons why you’re not into me. Until you close the door and close it completely, I can hold on to that tiny unrealistic shred of hope that you DO still want to hang out, and that maybe you’ll call (text, who am I kidding, nobody calls anymore and I hate it) and it’ll all be great.

Maybe that’s on me, maybe I just need to be better about reading signals and taking hints and then moving myself on once I’ve interpreted all those signals and hints, but ya know what? That sounds like a lot of work for me and I’m not a god damned mind reader.


None of this waiting by the phone malarkey would ever happen if you just made it clear from the start you never actually intended to call me. Except the rose, that would still be happening because wine.

What should one do instead of the slow-fade?

If you’re not interested in me, please, for the love of god, just say so. And if we hook up but you have no intention of ever seeing me again, don’t pretend you do. I know you think you’re being nice by not explicitly stating that you’re not into me, but let’s be honest, no you’re not. What you’re actually doing is protecting yourself from a potentially uncomfortable conversation.

You’re worried that I’ll get hurt and thus, I will freak out and have feelings all over you. Will you hurt my feelings? Sure, yeah, of course. I’m not a robot. If you tell me that you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, it’s gonna sting. But ya know what? That’s my problem and I’ll get over it. Just know that whatever the internet / television / movies / music / your idiot bachelor Uncle Ray has told you is going to happen is in fact NOT going to happen if you’re just straight with me.

What will happen is that I’ll appreciate the fact that you had enough respect for me and my feelings to be honest and up front with me. I will feel validated that you had enough deference for whatever we had (even if it was just one night) to know that it needed to be ended in a mature and thoughtful manner. In turn, you’ll never receive another drunk text from me offering you [redacted for parental viewing] at 2am just in case I’ve still got a shot. (Your loss.)

Maybe I’m off base here and everybody else is fine with never getting a definitive “no” but what can I say, I don’t like loose ends. I think this idea that women need to be treated like roadside IEDs primed to explode in a cloud of ice cream, James Blunt and tears in our Chardonnay is reductive and lame. We’re all grown ups here doing grown up shit, so let’s treat each other that way.



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Victoria Carter on XOJane!

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  • Jami

    I had a guy wait a freaking month to reply to my text. The guy didn’t respond until I deleted him on facebook. We only had a physical relationship so it didn’t make me sad and I had already moved on to date other guys (even my former ex who I love), but it made me wonder if the guy had the mental capacity of a fetus. I even told him early on that the physical stuff was nice, but I didn’t want to be led on and lied to because it was plain rude. Yet he always proposed all kinds of dates and outings, (which even I would sometimes bail on, but I at least told him beforehand) then he would vanish until the next time he wanted to “check in”. Those check-ins were bomb though, hence why I put up with his nonsense for so long. Can’t lie. But I was straight-forward so that we both knew that neither of us was interested in a relationship so I don’t know why he went through the trouble of slow fading. Eventually told him that I was moving out of state and then he left me alone.

    He even used the “For sure” line.

    • devo

      Girl…y’all doing the most.

  • Soothsayer

    I call it the “Fade Out” but yeah it sucks. It never happened to me until a few months ago. A guy friend of mine did it to this girl and I asked him why not just tell her that she was cool but he wasn’t feeling her romantically. He said he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I countered with ‘but you don’t think she’s going to be hurt with you not responding to her messages or calls/’ People worry things could be wrong with you. Once i though i was being faded out on and he ended up being in the hospital. Yeah I asked for documentation. Hell, we are all adults here just speak the truth or don’t even begin the journey in the first place. It’s so selfish and the coward’s way out.

  • Nic

    It sounds like you like to have closure but men don’t tend to like to give it, esp. when they can pop up for sex when they want to.
    My suggestion is that you take control of the situation and leave a message of your own telling the person who is pulling a slow fade to have a nice life.
    There is no reason why you cannot end it if he refuses to. And I think you’ll find it to be cathartic b/c you’ll have an ending that you decided on and all you have to do is stick to it and never try to contact that person again or respond to his attempts (b/c face it, there will be some weak attempts covered in weak sauce since you have previously trained him that that you’d be down when he felt like coming around).
    Men don’t seem to be good with the possibility of conrontation, even in minor situations. And I think you let them do more emotional damage than they are worth if you let them control the end of whatever it is you have with them.
    If your needs aren’t being met fully, you need to be done, and just practice telling people so and following through with it.
    I think black women tolerate way more crap than they should, be it bad behavior or people who just put in 10% effort while you do a lot more. Stop being one of those girls. A half-assed pseudo relationship with a man child is not better than no man at all, no matter what your friends might tell you.
    Remember not to make someone a priority when they have just made you an option and I think you’ll do a lot better. And don’t grab at a man who is fading out like he’s the last life preserver on a sinking ship.

    • Pseudonym

      Nic is totally correct! I had a guy try to “slow fade” me once and then when I called him out on it, instead of taking the “out” he tried to do a sneak “fade in” and I declined to offer to entertain anything romantic. As Nic said, if a guy won’t give you closure, the way to get closure is to be the closer. A guy not answering your texts or blowing you off qualifies as neglect and that’s good enough reason to end things move on to the next and better thing.