Why You Might Be Facing The Frustrating Slow Fade Phenomenon In Your Love Life

There are constantly new challenges and new ways of being broken up with in the modern age of matchmaking apps and virtual communication. Whether you've been breadcrumbed, benched, or stuck in a situationship for far too long, much of looking for "the one" involves repeating the same patterns over and over again. Meanwhile, dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have permanently altered what it means to be single. "Online dating is changing the way we think about love," sociologist Dr. Marie Bergström explained to The Guardian. "One idea that has been really strong in the past — certainly in Hollywood movies — is that love is something you can bump into, unexpectedly, during a random encounter." Technology leaves little up to chance and allows for rather unceremonious breakups.

Ghosting — when a potential match disappears inexplicably from the face of the earth — is an all too common form of rejection. Whereas ghosting usually happens all at once, the slow fade phenomenon occurs over a much longer period. If you're in the dating world, it's probably pretty likely that you have either faded someone or been faded throughout your journey to find love. Here's how to recognize the warning signs and understand why this half-hearted break-up technique is so common.

Some fade to avoid difficult conversations

Although slow fading may seem like a gentle alternative to ghosting, it's actually more harmful. Bit by bit, the fader pulls back, avoiding texts, rarely taking initiative, and presenting regular excuses. For starters, a person may fade in the hopes of avoiding uncomfortable conversations. "Guys are scared to disappoint, slash they want to keep all options on the table," one man outlined for Glamour, continuing, "When a guy does this, he wants the possibility to bounce back even after fade." In other words, a clean break eliminates the possibility of rekindling romance somewhere down the road.

For those afraid of commitment, fading may feel like the best way to keep things casual. If you find yourself intertwined with a slow fader, they're probably looking to avoid the complications of romantic attachment — maybe they're even juggling multiple dates at once. Therapist Megan Bruneau, RCC, told Women's Health that someone may choose to fade rather than ghost out of guilt, making the eventual breakup more painful in the process. Ultimately, whether you're looking for a committed relationship or a simple fling, you're more likely to achieve your desired outcome after an honest conversation.

Pay attention to the warning signs and respond accordingly

To determine if someone is attempting a slow fade, pay attention to their changing behavior. If you sense their enthusiasm has decreased since you first started dating, you might be on the receiving end of a slow fade-style break. For starters, do what your potential partner has been avoiding, and confront the situation directly. 

"Emotionally intelligent women are not afraid to ask their partner why they are becoming disinterested," relationship expert April Davis informed Bustle. "She'll likely address it in a calm and direct way, such as, 'I noticed you haven't been as responsive lately. I just wanted to check in to see where we stand," dating coach Samantha Burns added. If they ask for space, honor their request. Whatever the case, you'll have a better understanding of your relationship status. 

Dating apps have drastically increased the pool of potential matches, both a blessing and a curse. A slow fader — faced with multiple options — may find they have a better connection with somebody else. If this is the case, reassure yourself with the knowledge that there's probably a better option out there for you, too.