Of all the methods of saying “No more dates, thanks!” or “Peace out!” I think we can agree that the fade away ranks up there in terms of scheiss-ty ways one breaks off a whatever two-ish dates with the same person is. That said, when done appropriately (see the link for acceptable times and places), I think the correct term for where the fade away leaves you is Fat City (which I always imagine as a place full of huge greasy, ethically-raised chicken legs, Mardi Gras beads, and hammocks).
The fade away is not inherently bad – it’s just less than optimal. I admit the upsides of the fade-away are hard to ignore: namely, it’s always being a smooth-sailing process, like sliding down a marble hill covered in mayonnaise. Just do it, and you’re golden. (Unlike a text or email, which always seem to beg for a response even if what you say is “Don’t contact me again, Pie-Face!”)
Or…so I thought. I was unaware one could actually be clumsy at the fade away until it happened to me.
On first glance, this fade away should have been easy for the guy we’ll call Chad. We fit the criteria for appropriate fade awayness: three dates, didn’t have sex (but did make out once), and I am great at taking a hint (yes, despite my desire to beat dead horses).
Chad initiated the fade away well. I saw the signs.* After our last date, he didn’t make a next one. His textversation style went from engaged (ie: asking questions, giving meaty answers to my questions, playing with words and ideas with me, using our internally made up hash-tag) to a very useful catch-all for anything I texted, Hahá. And when I ran into Chad in the neighborhood, he didn’t linger and compliment me as he had before, instead opting to be really busy and tired (which he conveyed by saying those exact words to me, and which I took a hint on because well, he’d actually been busy and tired before, but also determined to squeeze me in somehow).
Totally all valid. Except…
Two things. One: every time we said goodbye from those ‘hood meetings, he’d say he’d message me. I suppose that could be considered a fade away move, but making an implicit promise like that is stretching it. I’d argue one rule of engagement for the fade away is not to lie but instead be cool and vague. And what came next stretched it even farther, like extra mozzarella on a four cheese pizza (gross): I point blank asked him if he did indeed want to hang out again (because dead horses. And because I don’t do well with ambiguity involving those I run into regularly. I like to know where we stand) – and he affirmed he did. Twice.
The mixed messages from our in-person interactions and the complete dropping the text/date ball had me baffled, and thinking in that Dionne voice, “Maybe he really was tired!” And that is of course, when Miranda came to mind:
And that’s when it hit me. I totally got fade-awayed. Clumsily. Very clumsily. But duh. Guys who are into you talk to you and tell you what’s in their head even when shit in their life is hitting the fan (Example A: KM, who lost his job the day of our second date but proceeded to go on a date with me and talk to me about it and cry), or make plans with you regardless of convenience (Example B: SS, who kicked ass at driving 45 minutes one way to see me for 45 minutes during grad school).
I admit, I felt a little foolish when the dust settled in my mind. I knew better. I knew actions spoke louder than words. It was clear something happened in his life, or clicked in his brain, after our last date made him think, Nope (or perhaps Not now). But I was too unjaded to see it.
But maybe that’s what is nice about not being jaded. It means everything is possible. Tiredness. Life. Tardis adventures. And it also means I’m willing to believe all Chad was trying to do was keep the friendship doorway open. And I like friends. So next time I see him, I’ll smile and high-five him, and be grateful he’s in my “cool people” paddock.