Disclaimer/Side Note: The first rule of dating advice is there are no absolutes in dating. It’s freaking Tag War out there, people. Anything can – and occasionally will – work at least once when the right sets of chemistry come together and kapow. I point this out only to say that my following thoughts on how best get your break-up on in short term dating situations are purely an opinion that I happen to find factual – but you, and plenty of other people, may not.
A Fade Away Definition
So. I was at Outside Lands this past weekend. Not usually the place one goes to ponder severing potential romantic ties. Unless of course, one is watching the effervescent Garfunkel and Oates from the fourth row after yelling I’m so excited to see you! during a quiet moment when they walked on stage (to which they responded And we’re excited to see you! Or we would be if the lights weren’t in our eyes!).
Anyway, during their set, G&O strummed up a tune they call The Fade Away. It’s hilarious and you can totally watch it right here and now so long as you promise to either keep reading or go watch more Garfunkel and Oates (might I recommend Pregnant Women are Smug and 29/31?) or make some tuna salad because yum! Tuna salad!
There’s the right thing to do; then there’s what I’m going to do…Sigh. Don’t we all know it?
When is the Fade Away Kosher?
Look, the truth is, in very select moments, The Fade Away – or even the unmentioned Disappearing Act – is absolutely acceptable. I’d say if you’ve been on between 1 and 3 mediocre dates that didn’t last very long, you haven’t had sex, and the other person takes a hint, you can totally Fade Away. I even would condone this behavior. You’ve been on 1 to 3 mediocre dates; you owe the other person nothing but kindness, and hey, even that is sort of questionable.
When is the Fade Away Leaning Toward Douchebag Territory?
After 3 dates, I think the Fade Away is a crummy method of break-offery. I don’t care how immature you are, or how new you are to the dating scene, or how codependent you are, or how much you hate doing the right thing: your being will be better if you figure out how to authentically communicate, “No more dates please!”
So…What’s the Alternative?
The alternative to the Fade Away is no small feat. It’s not a simple task. It requires the following:
1) Pure confidence in yourself. That you know what is best for you, what you want, and what you believe.
2) The ability not to take anything personally. Some people don’t react well to being blown off, and will subsequently blow up at you. Communicating authentically means you know when this is happening.
I mean, you can do it without any (or all) of those things. But it’s hard.
The alternative is a (kind, gentle, straight up) version of the truth, preferably in person or over the phone, but certainly an email or text is better than nothing at all. The alternative is saying something like this:
Hey there! I’ve had a great time hanging out with you, but I just don’t feel a the right chemistry between us – and I’m big on chemistry. You’re a terrific person, and I’d enjoy being friends if you’re down with that.
Let’s break that down. First, you say “Hi!” Then, you compliment the person in some way. Then, you say something that is hard to dispute, but about you. Then you sandwich all that up with another compliment and an olive branch of sorts.
This is not easy. But it does three things:
1) It gives the other person closure, making the relationship feel complete (yes, even if you were just casually dating, you had a relationship of sorts).
2) It’s not mean, accusatory, or hurtful. Yes, maybe there’s more to the story, but saying “Your big hands freaked me out and I’m just not that into you because I can’t be with your hands and if I was into you then they wouldn’t matter” is just unnecessary.
3) It leaves you open to having a connection and making a friend. And friends – even ones you’ve been on dates with/made out with – are awesome.
*Fun fact (learned from my mom): Outside Lands is called such because in the 19th century there were only a few roads out yonder in what are now the Richmond and Sunset districts – so they called the area Outside Lands. #momknowledge