If you’re accustomed to swiping through a sea of profiles on Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or any of the major dating apps, the process of searching for a decent match can be exhausting. But while an app’s instant affirmation might be encouraging, it might be better to slow things down once you do meet someone you like.
What is “slow dating?”
It isn’t a new idea, but the strategy of taking things slow during the early courting phase is experiencing a revival. Slow-dating is when two people let physical intimacy fade onto the back burner to focus on other types of connection.
Waiting for sex might smack of a certain puritanical sensibility, and probably won’t seem very fun to the majority of people since many couples tend to have sex within the first month of dating in the U.S. Certain studies do suggest that rushing into a sexual relationship can lead to dissatisfaction down the line, though. That’s not to say that all physical intimacy in a relationship’s early days will be a harbinger of bad things to come; to be sure, certain aspects of intimacy like kissing, hugging, and other displays of affection have been shown to improve relationships both emotionally and sexually. But in order to get there, especially in the app-heavy climate of contemporary dating, many experts recommend slow dating to help people find not only the partner they’re looking for, but also answer certain questions about themselves and their own dating intentions.
As the psychologist Kate Balestrieri told Men’s Health:
At its core [slow dating] is a focus on getting to know fewer people at the same time, so you can stay present with them — and more importantly, yourself — and thoroughly evaluate the quality of the connection.
Broadly speaking, slow dating is about taking a step back and assessing your romantic endeavours from a higher altitude to better understand what you need beyond sex. Or, as the psychologist Sara Konrath told NBC News in 2018: “It’s based on a desire for people to slow things down, get to know one another without so much pressure and focus on high quality connection and closeness.”
How do you slow date?
Dating apps can barrage you with profile after profile, so it might be a good idea to limit your usage — maybe swimming through Tinder or Bumble should be an activity that’s only permissible on Tuesdays or Thursdays, for example. Also, be upfront with your dates about what you’re doing; there’s nothing wrong with being honest about holding off on sex — in fact, your dates will undoubtedly appreciate your candour.
Also, you’re dating, so don’t be afraid to cast a wide net. This means feel free to date more than one person at a time. This is what the dating coach Jess McCann told Ask Men, saying:
I recommend filling your funnel with three or four prospects in the early stages of getting to know someone…as long as you are not sleeping with any of those prospects you can slow date them all.
Of course, don’t be surprised if some of the people you’re looking to slow date feel differently than you about immediate intimacy. You might be rewarded, though, by finding someone who wants the same emotional connection as you do before the physical intimacy takes place.