Ah, the Fadeout, the desperation-inspired rarely perfected relationship exit. The truth about the Fadeout is that it represents the triumph of hope over logic. It’s almost exclusively a male invoked phenomenon, because we are hopeless at communicating, that, for us, it’s over.

At its heart, the Fadeout is passive-aggressive. It involves hoping – praying, even – that the woman magically figures out that we don’t want to be with her anymore. Ideally, she somehow picks up these vibrations, says to herself “Oh, that’s too bad the Wombat doesn’t want to be with me any more”, and continues her life as if we’d never met. We want the whole relationship infractructure dismantled while we sleep, like Kaiser Soze…..poof! disappearing before your very eyes.

This is insanity of course, because breakups are a reason for women to endlessly analyze, talk with friends, re-hash, question, re-construct and generally squeeze the life out of something that had ceased to exist anyway. Basically men are just over the girl in question, and want to avoid all of the recrimination and heartache that women attach to being the only one left in a two-person institution.

The Fadeout mostly occurs when one party reaches for the How to Leave a Lover playbook and doesn’t find any gambit to their taste – like facing the person directly and saying “By the way, we’re over”. By the time you’re at Fadeout stage, there’s pretty much no stopping you. All logic has disappeared, you feel trapped with no way out, and you’ll do anything to get out of this straightjacket…….ummm, relationship. Here’s how it works (much as MW describes):

1. Move out.

2. Move somewhere far away.

3. Refuse phone calls.

4. Pretend with all your heart you didn’t spend the last three years with that person.

5. Hope, and hope some more that you never see that person again.

6. Get liquored up.

7. Find loads of new trim.

Naturally I don’t recommend this course of action for anyone, simply because it’s neither adult, nor smart. The aggrieved ex-other is now out for revenge (once the incredulity gives way to rage which gives way to lifelong desires to get even). In short, you make an enemy for life.

Then she marries your broker.


Rule Two. Concentrate.

On the girl, that is. Gentlemen, women have an atomic clock integral to their brains. It’s much more accurate than your Tag, so just take note: if your eyes leave her for the smallest measurable interval, she’ll know. In the words of MW, this is called ‘eye-darting’ and significantly reduces the likelihood of getting what you’re after.

The danger of first dates for guys is that whilst apparently benign, they are actually conducted under pressure-cooker-like conditions. You know that little Mars Rover guy? Well that’s you. She’s playing the role of the hypercritical flight controllers, checking out all your moves before, during and after you’ve made them. Poor sap, you think it’s a quiet cocktail, but really you’re at seventy-three atmospheres and it’s six-hundred degrees.

Don’t think you can surreptitiously check out that babe who just walked into the bar, because you’re wrong. Babe might notice, date definitely will. And you’ll notice that at the end of the date it’s suddenly six-hundred below.

The upside is that if you focus on the job at hand and resist any other quadrant of the compass except that which encompasses her, things might go your way. It’s easy really. Pretend you’ve got a crook neck and have limited left/right mobility. Look into her eyes as much as you can. Blink. Nod your head, smile, and the second date’s as good as yours.

Unless you’re on a first date with the babe.


Wombats by nature are placid creatures, but I’m pretty steamed today. Over the new year weekend, I provided dinner for two women. One, the current passion interest, the other a friend who might be a future interest. New Year’s Eve I shopped and cooked at home for the PI. After arriving late, she downs an hour’s worth of cocktails and gives me an hour-long monologue. I then serve the four-course dinner, with wines, over two hours. Every request met, not a finger she lifted. At midnight we had dessert and celebratory drinks. Sounds OK doesn’t it? Well I figured it was acceptable, but when she left the next day not a word of thanks, not a reference to the effort, not a compliment for the thoughtfulness. In short, passion interest’s a pig.

Future interest was divorced earlier in the year after sixteen years of marriage. She’s forty, and lost the handbook decades ago. This was our first one-on-one outing so I applied Wombat Rules of Dating.

Number One: I pay. Encouraging her to talk I listened to hair-raising tales of the last years of her marriage. Caribbean affairs with local post-pubescents, dirty dancing in St Lucian Hotels and dalliances with lesbianism had my head spinning. But what really bugs me is the churlishness of not saying the magic words, ‘thanks for dinner’.

Future interest becomes never interest.

Ladies, we can take the moods, we can get through the tears. We can pay for the nights out and want to pay for the lingerie. But get with the program, get smart, and get some manners.

Rule One

Midwest’s impressive sampling of first-time dates highlight Seattle-Man’s many retardations. From the middle-aged still at home to the over-sensitive verging on gay; from the wealthy desperate divorced to the forward furtive creeps, you all have at least this in common.

Gentlemen, I present you with:

Rule One. You Pay.

Germaine Greer was always an overbearing beast and Naomi Wolf sold out to the rich guy, so let’s get this straight: the women’s movement is over. It serves no further purpose in your thinking, at least for our goals here. Splitting the bill is for friends, not prospective (or brand spanking new) lovers. Let’s return to what we know works, not what a handful of over-educated tenured-types told us for a decade or so.

For our aims, guys need to demonstrate the ability to look after the woman. Of course in prior parts of our development this might have included dragging a bloodied buffalo home. These days our speared quadrupeds are green and beautifully illustrated with dead Presidents. So consider a visit to an ATM a modest form of hunting, and then for the time you’re with the woman use only the fruits of your hunting, and none of hers.

First-date disaster (courtesy painful Midwest experience of course) is to arrive in *bucks for a first date chai-mocca-caff, buy your own drink, and not offer to buy one for the girl. Gross error.

Guys, by breasting the bar, dealing with the barista and doing this single-digit-dollar favor, your chances of seeing her again increase many times. Not doing it means you’ll need to be B.Pitt of Hollywood CA. We don’t need to out-think this, friends, just buy her the froth, and you might just get yours.


Ah, Seattle, the Emerald City, pride of the Pacific Northwest, home to liberals of every hue and sexual oddity. But not, as it has taken me three years to discover, a dating playground if you happen to be straight, single, Republican and not a Mr Softee millionaire. What to do? Live well of course, but take time to revisit dating fundamentals. If I’m looking for a cute, conservative, cash-smart woman between thirty and fifty, what is it that she is looking for? What avoidable mistakes and muddles do guys get themselves into between, say, dates zero and fifteen? And is it possible to formulate dating and communication rules to live by for both sexes? Just when can I move in for a kiss with better than coin-flip odds of ending up at that piece of skin between the ear and the cheek, otherwise known as the daters’ graveyard?