If you ask a guy, he will likely say one of the things he hates most is breaking up with a woman. During those last moments of a doomed relationship (yes, even a string of dates counts as a relationship because you have, well, “related” with one another), anything a woman says in response to her boyfriend’s rejection of her short of saying nothing at all is going to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to him.
Just look at the pained expression on the face of Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale in the 2000 film, American Psycho, as he tells girlfriend, Evelyn, played by Reese Witherspoon, that he no longer wants to see her.
“What do you want me to do?” she pleads. “What is it that you want?”
“If you really want to do something for me,” Bateman seethes before making a quick exit to return some videotapes, “then stop making a scene right now.”
To avoid similar torture, some guys (and girls) pull what is known as the “slow fade” and try to end a relationship gradually by doing (or not doing) a few simple things. The problem is, depending on how perceptive you are, it may take a little time to get caught up to speed.
Meanwhile, you say to yourself (and eight of your closest girlfriends), “Am I crazy? It seems like only yesterday we were so close.”
In reality, it may have been only yesterday. Except today, something doesn’t feel quite right. But because you can’t put your finger on exactly what, you mistakenly believe asking him will make YOU the crazy one.
Trust me, you’re not.
It is really the guy doing the “slow fade” who is crazy, psycho even, for believing you are not going to catch onto the method of his madness sooner or later.
In isolation, no one sign indicates a “slow fade” is actually occurring. Put a few signs together, however, and you may very well have a slow fader on your hands, one who is hoping he will be that lucky S.O.B. whose woman does his dirty work for him by dumping him first.
No guy should ever be that lucky.
Here are eight behaviors to watch out for so you can hold that slow fader accountable, demanding he give you the respect and dignity you deserve.
1. He doesn’t call as much. Okay, this behavior is one of the easiest to write off because lots of guys claim they don’t like to talk on the phone (even though they do all day long). If yours is one of those guys, he will likely let you know early on, leaving himself the excuse he needs should he ever need to use it. Chances are he will. But because you have been duly warned, when the frequency of calls does return to what it once was before you told him how much you “love” to hear his voice, you overlook the slight, inadvertently forcing him to step up his game. In response…
2. He texts and emails less. Makes perfect sense, right? You are no longer in the “honeymoon” phase of your relationship, those first few dates when you are going gaga over one another (or at least one of you is) and are thinking about this new person more than you can stand. That’s what you tell yourself at least. You convince yourself you shouldn’t expect as much from him as you once did. Wrong. You should. But you take what you can get anyway until you notice…
3. His texts and emails become short and not so sweet. Remember those cute smiley faces? The XOs? The sweet sentiments? They are but a distant memory now. Instead, “thanks” is his new emoticon, leaving you to scratch your head wondering if you have done something wrong. Nah, you rationalize. It’s just that…
4. He is suddenly very “busy.” Yeah, that’s what it is! Work is CRAAAZY for him now. That explains why he hasn’t called, texted and emailed as much as he used to and didn’t make weekend plans with you until the last minute. But you’re happy he’s busy because…
5. He has so many family problems. A nasty divorce. A crazy soon-to-be ex-wife. A witch for an ex-girlfriend. Screwed up kids. And you, the hopelessly devoted girlfriend fool you are, don’t want him to suffer any more than he must. So you become even more understanding when…
6. He gets sick. Things have gotten SO bad for this guy he can barely function (or so you think). He has been so “busy” with work and family problems that now he’s not feeling well as a result. Poor thing. Which explains why…
7. He looks less appealing. All of a sudden he’s disheveled. Verklempt. But right away you feel guilty for even thinking such a thing about the guy who once treated you so well and say to yourself instead, “Maybe I’m not being supportive enough.” Whereupon he says to himself, “Maybe I’m dating Hellen Keller.” So what does he do?
8. He acts like a dick. He has finally reached DEFCON 1. His last resort. The part where he does something reprehensible in addition to all of the above which he is already doing in unison. It is his “plus one” (if you’re that fortunate). Maybe he cavorts with another woman. Perhaps he makes you the butt of a private joke you are not yet clued in on. Even worse is if he helps himself to one last kiss goodbye (or more) which you are unaware really is goodbye.
So what do you do? What any self-respecting woman would do: YOU dump HIM. The only problem is, that slow fader trips himself up. He sounds just a wee bit too chipper about your breakup, prompting you to call him out on his shady behavior anyway.
In the end, there he finds himself, having that same unpleasant conversation he spent more than a week trying to avoid. Seems like a lot of effort to dodge a little pain, huh?
You, in turn, shake your head in disgust, only wanting to say to this poor guy, “You’re pathetic.”
Because he is.
How do you handle a breakup?