The Warning Signs of Slow Fade Dating


We aren’t going to sit here and lie to you that we aren’t guilty of ghosting people in our lives, whether it’s IRL or on a dating app. 

And unless you are a saint, chances are pretty good you’ve done a few romantic ghosting’s in your dating life. 

So now that we’ve established our less-than-stellar behavior when it comes to new connections or even established relationships, there’s something else we need to discuss. Yes, it’s another toxic dating trend. No, we don’t know who names them or why they continue to pop up. 

Until this latest trend, ghosting was seen as the absolute worst way to end any kind of romantic entanglement. And while it’s bad, you’ll get no argument from us there; in our opinion, this latest one is way worse. What is it? It’s called slow fade dating. 

Why is it worse than ghosting? Well, when someone vanishes from your life with no explanation, never to appear again, there is a definitive end. Whether they want nothing to do with you anymore, went into witness protection for ratting out the mob, or died, you know they’re gone and not coming back. 

While that sounds awful, the slow fade is 10 times worse—and we’ll explain why we wouldn’t wish it upon our worst enemies (ok, maybe one or two enemies). 

What is This Slow Fade Dating Fad?

The slow fade is not a haircut, although it sounds like one—it’s when someone slowly backs off from a romantic relationship. They slowly fade away. 

Maybe you are the perpetrator of this toxic trend, or perhaps someone slow faded themselves out of your orbit. 

Couple breaking up

Whatever the case, it happens when one person in a partnership wants out but doesn’t want to say it out loud. Because, for real, “we need to talk” is hard to say unless you are a real stand-up person with not one cowardly bone in your body. 

Ending things with a significant other is hard. Like, really hard! Not only is it tough to hurt someone you once cared about, but then you have to see and hear the hurt you’re inflicting. 

This is not an indictment of someone’s character—sparks fizzle out, feelings change, and romantic relationships end. Unless you did something abhorrent and can’t look them in the eye or got caught cheating, it’s just what happens. It’s not anyone’s fault if you aren’t feeling the person anymore.

So what do you do? Your choices include ripping off the bandaid and facing it head-on—or—you pull the slow fade. 

This is where one-half of a couple has made the choice to end the relationship but doesn’t say so. They begin to show it through their actions. They start to tiptoe out the door and disappear bit by painful bit, leaving their other half to wonder what is happening and why. 

Why Slow Fade Dating is Worse Than Being Ghosted

You’d think being cut off with zero explanation or reason would be worse, right? Wrong. 

While it’s harsh, it’s over. You aren’t wondering what you are doing wrong, why they aren’t calling as much, why they’re suddenly super “busy” and can’t see you as much (if at all)—it’s done and dusted. 

But with a slow fade, there’s some gaslighting going on—they’re saying that everything is okay, but their actions are telling a very different story. This leaves the other person wrong-footed, confused, feeling insecure, and wracked with uncertainty about the state of their relationship. 

“What did I do wrong?” or “Are they into someone else?” will most likely be the questions on repeat in their mind. And they might start to believe that there is something wrong with them—but it’s just their other half lacking the guts to pull the plug. 

Woman wondering whats wrong with her

No one wants to have the “talk,” we get that. But to inflict a sort of emotional torture on someone else just because you don’t want to have a hard conversation is really cruel. 

No, we’d much rather be abruptly ghosted; thank you very much. 

Signs You Are Being Slow Faded

You’d think the signs would be easy to spot, and some of them are! But a few are more subtly underhanded, so here are some warning flags:

Low self-esteem

Their actions make you wonder what you are doing wrong and question yourself and the relationship.

Man confused and upset

When you ask if something is wrong, they assure you everything is fine—this is gaslighting. They’re basically telling you that you can’t trust your own feelings, which makes you feel nuts. 

Woman alone and upset

They begin to back away from you physically and emotionally.

Man upset

They’re suddenly very busy, too busy to text back, call, or hang out. 

If you notice any of these red flags of the slow fade, chances are pretty good that your significant other is just biding their time until you end things. 

This accomplishes two things: they don’t have to have the “talk,” and they can become the victim in the breakup. You can hang in there and call their bluff so they have no choice but to not run away from conflict, or you can decide to cut your losses and realize you deserve better. 

Only you know what’s best for you, so it’s your choice to make. 


Slow fade dating is really gross—not only is it cowardice to the nth degree, but it’s an abuse of someone else’s emotional health and well-being. 

You’re pretending to be part of a functional relationship still, but you aren’t there, and that’s a crappy way to treat someone, especially someone you were in a romantic partnership with! 

So no matter how hard it is for you to bite the bullet and be brutally honest, how much you abhor conflict of any kind, it is much more humane and kind to tear off the bandaid all at once—instead of letting it fester until your partner has to do your dirty work for you. 

confused woman looking at phone with question mark background and a heart-shaped speech bubble with a surprised face emoji inside of it

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