No Thank You

A Case Against the Defense of the Fade Out

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The dating world is full of highs and lows. For every amazing date or great relationship there can be seven or eight incredibly awkward complete mismatches of personality. Yet above all, there really is nothing worse than a cold shoulder. Cold knees perhaps (the worst!), but we’re working in analogies here.

Slate recently ran an article defending the Fade Out (which, to most of the world, sounds like an emo band) – saying that it was the “elegant” way to end a not-so-great relationship. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Look around you. That guy with the weird head. He’s probably done it too. You just stop replying to their texts, and freeze them out. Maybe you’ve had it done to you. It ain’t pretty.

If things just aren’t going so well with someone and you have a half-ounce of respect for them, you should give them closure. Nobody likes to be left hanging.

The Cold Shoulder (or, TCS from here on out because 1. I’m lazy 2. The Fade Out really does sound like a band I don’t want to listen to) is an effective way to get out of giving money to a panhandler – not to a dating partner. Ultimately, people want to know something has definitely come to an end. Even if – on their end – things are going swimmingly, there’s no heartbreak like a slow heartbreak; nobody wants to see their emotions wither like some untended houseplant.

Exactly how Slate sees TCS as “elegant,” I don’t know. Maybe they’re really into masochism and get a kick out of putting the metaphorical strangle-hold onto other people, which is, in all essence, what TCS actually is. Maybe it’s all part of some Slate-writers S&M underground sex-club where they all wear masks and slap each other’s naked and bound bodies with lavender scented gloves to increasingly aggressive harpsichord music. I don’t know. I’m just speculating. (PS–Let me know when the next one is.)

If the prospective relationship is going terrible, then maybe TCS is the best idea. Nobody wants to deal with a psychopath, and in those cases freezing them out really is the best idea. But if things just aren’t going so well with someone and you have a half-ounce of respect for them, you should make the call or send the text or write the email and let them know that it’s just not working out.

Otherwise, things are just awkward and inhumane. As an illustration, imagine you’re on a long car ride with someone else in the car. Pick someone. Anyone, really. Let’s just say you’re in a car with Benicio Del Toro.

OK. Got that image in your head?

Now imagine you’re both starting to get hungry.

“Hey Benicio”
“You hungry?”
“Yes,” he says, in that husky brogue voice.

You see a sign for a truck stop with a few options. Jack In The Box. In N Out. Possibly a Subway. The next rest stop is some 100 miles away.

“Hey Benicio, you want Jack In The Box?”
“In N Out?”
“Uh, Subway? Benicio?”

No answer. You end up driving past the rest stop.

You’d then assume that Benicio was just being a dick, right? Or would you assume that Benicio was “elegantly” trying to tell you he wasn’t hungry?

No. Benicio Del Toro, in that situation, would just be being a massive dick.

Don’t be a dick, and don’t give someone the fade out or the cold shoulder if they don’t need it. You’re adult enough to have grown-up relationships, be mature enough to have one, short, potentially uncomfortable conversation.

Photo by Sascha Kohlmann