I’ve always been a big fan of ghosting, which is breaking off a relationship with no warning and no closure, severing all contact and letting the sudden silence become the harbinger of bad news, because I’ve never been fond of tearful breakups. Breaking up is a pain in the ass and ghosting is a simple, effective, cruel, and downright cowardly way to ditch someone once a relationship has run its course.
An even more chicken-shit and contemptible method of cutting ties with a significant other is to execute a slow fade. Slow fading, as its name suggests, is to ghost over time, stretching a gradual withdrawal from contact over a series of days or weeks. Some victims of the slow fade may even contend this method is worse on another person’s psyche than a sudden ghost, but I’d be damned if it isn’t effective.
The next time you feel like sparing a former romantic interest’s feelings while simultaneously ruining her faith in relationships and rattling the core of her perceived self-worth, follow these guidelines and become an expert at pulling off the slow fade.
Slow your answer time and be more succinct.
At the point you decide that a relationship is trending downward, it’s time to initiate the fade by easing up on your reply time, be it by 10 minutes or a few hours. In the digital age, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking more than a few hours to reply to text, let alone an entire day, so don’t ignore her altogether at the outset (and spoil the fun of fading). Remove your read receipts and come up with a bullshit excuse as to why you suddenly suck at texting back. My personal favorite is just blaming my perpetual textual tardiness on group projects and mission trips to imaginary places, since the degree of my engagement in both is hard to gauge by an outside — unless you were ever fortunate enough to be my partner in Bio I. In which case, you know I’m wholly disengaged.
What distinguishes a slow fade from an all-out ghost? A slow fade still requires some communication. When the lines of communication are pried open again, be increasingly terse. Sometimes, the other party will get the picture here and you’re home free.
Never answer a question directly.
There are three approaches to fielding the tough questions that she will inevitably hit you with: dodging, answering a question with a question, and just changing the subject.
To execute a perfect slow fade, you need only be vague or just plain obtuse when answering uncomfortable questions. One must identify the leading questions and refuse to bite. For example, “Am I ever going to see your face again?” can be answered with “Sure. Check the front page of the paper tomorrow morning. Any further questions?” “Are we even still dating?” can be answered with “Hang on, let me check my Facebook. Yes. Any further questions?”
For a little added fun, treat the questions like a press conference. Channel your inner Bill Belicheck or Nick Wilde and answer dumb questions with a question of your own. Then answer your own question.
“Are you free later?”
“Am I going out after work? Most likely.”
Avoid making plans for more than a week or two in advance (or at all).
Even in a happy relationship, I’m no planner. I’m one of 56 million Americans who prefers to fly by the seat of his pants, according to a survey I just made up. I especially avoid making plans with someone I’m trying to fade out of my life. Many moons ago, I dated a girl with an unbearably type-A personality, and overbearing to boot — a planner in the most anal sense — who knew she could string me along by planning dates and expecting me to go with it. At one point, she bought tickets for a concert that was almost a year away in attempt to stymie any thoughts I had of leaving — a sentiment she even admitted to after a few sessions of couples therapy.
Don’t let her make plans, as it’s one of the easiest ways to trap you. Obstruct, circumvent, ignore, or just find an excuse not to cooperate, unless she’s planning on moving herself far away to some remote wasteland like Moscow or any Penn State satellite campus.
When/if you do keep plans, try to incorporate a buffer.
In the event you keep a date with the girl you’re gradually disappearing from (say you’re drunk and she offered to drive you to get some hot cheese balls), ask her if she minds if your pal Craig comes along, too. He’s already over at your apartment and he hit a rough patch after his beta fish died. Craig is now your buffer. Use him. Maybe you and Craig can turn the lost night into a devil’s three-some, giving you all the more reason to look for the door, since she’s shown she is a woman of questionable character and associating with her is far too severe a stigma for man of your unsullied reputation.
Be smart with Snapchat, because she will check it.
As ridiculous as it may seem, some girls take Snapchat more seriously than they take their classes and may revert to some crazy tendencies when they feel their man begin to pull away. While it’s easy to cover your tracks on Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat will thwart you impure tactics worse than a jealous roommate with an overseas internet girlfriend who “just needs $200 more to buy a plane ticket to the US.” As soon as she feels the tension, she’ll be checking for disparity in your snap score to see if your phone really did get wet on a mission trip to Uzbekistan or if you’ve just been ignoring her.
If you’re already mutual best Snap friends, you’re screwed. At this point, let her ruin the yellow heart before you get to snapping her hotter little sister.
Have an alibi prepared when you blow her off and always have a friend to corroborate it.
Here’s where your pal Craig comes back in. Your excuses won’t need to be extravagant if a friend can just corroborate the ruse. Sure, you may be getting to know a Swedish exchange student in the biblical sense, but six of your closest friends swear they just saw you at the grocery store and two more claim to still be with you, perusing the Food Lion for pretzels and a copy of Zootopia with director’s commentary.
Begin looking for some finality.
If you’ve reached the point that not opening her snaps, answering her texts, or interacting with her Instagram and hasn’t painted a clear enough picture that you’re trying to pull a Malaysia Flight 370 on her, it’s time to find a reasonable endpoint. If you’re an honest person, you can come clean at last and tell her you want to break it off.
Or, you can take the easy way out: Smash your phone, delete your Facebook, quit your job, change the name on your fake, buy a blonde wig and sunglasses, and board the next flight to Vegas..