Relationships can be tricky, but let’s be real. Modern dating can be one hell of a nightmare.

We’ve evolved into a generation (ugh, another reason to hate millennials) that communicates through vague, coded messages, creates swipe-able connections, and turns dating into a game of Chutes and Ladders—make the wrong move and all your climbing will be for nothing; you’ll slide right back to the beginning, left with nothing but questions and a bruised ego.

Now, I’m not saying dating isn’t fun. Dating can be incredibly refreshing, especially if you’re newly single. And with so many options out there, it’s just a matter of time before we meet someone with that je ne sais quoi. The allure of an initial spark can be so warm, inviting and, well, blinding. It draws you into its wonderment and teases you with the promise of something brilliant.

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Soon, you’re eagerly awaiting his texts each morning, making your workday soar past with playful conversation, and ending your evenings with good night texts implying that he’s looking forward to talking to you tomorrow. You couldn’t be happier and your hope in finding love grows stronger.

Then something happens. There’s a shift. For some reason, that boy who couldn’t get enough of you starts texting less and less. Eventually, you find yourself chasing him, reaching out, asking him when you’re going to hang out again. His responses become shorter and shorter and then, voilá! He’s faded into thin air. What the F?

Whoever said silence is golden has never experienced the fade, clearly. Unfortunately this method of “letting someone down easy” has become an epidemic. With an inability to take responsibility, fused with the constant flow of potential options, people have become more callous in ending relationships (because if you don’t address it, it never happened, right?). But then again, half the time our generation doesn’t even know if they’re in one or not, because g-d forbid we be direct or expect clarity from each other.

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Thanks to the haze of confusion we’re left in from this mentality and the silent treatment that proceeds it, our confidence may start to plummet. We start wondering what we did wrong or if he met someone prettier or more interesting than us. “This kind of questioning can chip away at a woman’s self-esteem,” says dating and relationship expert and blog editor for Zoosk, Joan Barnard. “I want women to realize that although this experience stings, his slow and steady disappearance is never worth internalizing.”

Even if you were born with rock-solid confidence, you can still start questioning yourself, especially when your dating life seems to be on a continuous loop of rejection. So, what’s a girl to do to boost her confidence after a fade? Here’s some of the best advice I’ve got, straight from the dating front lines:

1. Take a break. If you’re coming out of a relationship or have been playing the dating game for a while, you may need a bit of a breather. Dating should be fun. The moment you start loathing the presence of all males, it may be time to take some R&R from dating.

2. Focus on yourself. Men are drawn to confident women—a confident woman knows what she likes, what she doesn’t, and what she deserves. Start honing your passions, beliefs and values. Join that boxing class you’ve been wanting to take, or break out those paint brushes that are gathering dust in your closet. The more successful you become outside of the dating world, the more confident you’ll feel when you’re in it.

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3. Talk yourself up. “Fake it until you make it” is actually more effective than you may realize. It’s easy for friends to tell you “You’re better than that. You deserve more. He wasn’t worthy of you.” But if you don’t believe it yourself, no amount of encouragement is going to soothe your seared heart. One of the ways I grew my confidence was looking in the mirror daily and telling myself, “You are strong. You are intelligent. You are beautiful. You are loveable. You are special. Today is going to be an amazing day.” Once you start engraining this into your head, you’re going to be unstoppable (or have an overly inflated ego—I call that a win-win)!

4. Patience is a virtue. Next time you start seeing someone and they don’t text you, practice patience. Yes, past experiences may cause you to feel a moment of insecurity or uncertainty, but remind yourself that it will pass. Guys always end up texting. It may be a day, a week, or even a month later, but they always do. Breathe and remind yourself that you hold the power. The second you press send, he does. And he hasn’t earned that luxury.

5. Keep it locked up. I’m all about women’s sexual freedom—sex can be just fun, and if you’re looking for fun, do your thing, sista! And who knows where that will lead. But if you’re looking for something more serious, maybe think twice. Your vagina holds a lot of power. Of course, every man is different—there are ones who won’t feel any differently if you hook up the first night or wait a month (hold onto him, btw). But many times, hooking up right away is a death sentence (that’s why vibrators were invented). In fact, I’ve had several guys tell me that when sex happens too soon, their interest level drops, and they can’t even explain why. By not giving it up, you show him that you’re not down to be a no-strings-attached fling or left in the gray zone.

6. Find the funny in the fade. This guy didn’t give you the respect of ending things like a man. Thus, he totally did you a favor. Not only do you know he’s not a real man, but he’s also left you to your own creative devices. When a guy finally hits the final portion of the fade point (aka he’s never texting back), I personally assume he’s dead (because why else would he miss out on a chance on dating a masterpiece). Maybe he was hit by a Mack truck. Or the cartel was after him and he had to ditch his cell for a burn phone and lost all his contacts. Either way, he’s f**ked and I dodged a bullet. Honestly, the more you play him off as the joke he was, the better you’ll feel.

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