Though plenty of people have had a FWB (friends with benefits) situation before, there’s a not-so-new trend that’s making a comeback—slow dating. And it’s on the other end of casual dating, challenging singles to not only take their time, but invest their energy into one person—and one person only. As the common approach to finding a relationship in most European countries, those actively looking for a meaningful experience have started to try slow dating, a modern way to court another person.
If you’re ready for a serious twosome that could be the twosome, here’s what you need to know about slow dating.
So, what is slow dating?
As you can probably guess from the name, slow dating is what it sounds like: a much more relaxed way to get to know another human. As licensed professional counselor Crystal Bradshaw explains, it’s an ‘old’ way of finding a mate since it takes more attention and patience. “You intentionally focus your energy on one person for an extended period of time as you gradually get to know them over the course of longer dates and over a longer period of time,” she continues. Slow dating might mean less drinks and more dinners, more walks through the park and less having sex on the third date, and so on.
Why is it making a comeback?
Since the introduction of Tinder into the market 2012, online dating has changed dramatically. Not only is it a more accepted way to meet someone, but there are endless apps available, all of which cater to various niche audiences and intentions. While this opens the field of possibility, many singles find it overwhelming in the least, and makes slow dating seem like a better solution. As psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. explains, it’s sort of like a back lash or a conte-reaction to the era of dating by swiping and the whirlwind-kind of pace that often happens when you’re matched with numerous people in a single day. “ Many people are preferring to receive fewer matches that are quality ones over being flooded with a mass quantity of non-viable matches on some of the dating apps,” she explains.
Though it might feel like a return to the way our parents dated—for those who are tired of being ghosted or pairing with people who aren’t on the same page—many welcome this shift.
What are the benefits of slow dating?
First and foremost, slow dating is actually more compatible with our body! As Bradshaw explains, our brains are wired to attach slowly over time, and love is something that grows slowly, over time. “Feelings of romantic love and deep attachment have to be cultivated, through getting to know someone,” she continues. “You won't know who someone is by their profile, nor will you know who they are and if they are a good fit for you based on one single date.”
When you’re dating slowly and investing in one another through meaningful conversations and experiences, you create a bond. This usually means holding off on having sex for at least a few weeks, so your emotional connection is cemented before you sleep together.
Here, psychologists give their best strategies for putting this habit in action:
Make your first date as interesting as possible.
A first date should be something you look forward to and one that puts you out of your comfort zone in an exciting and stimulating way, according to Bradshaw. “It can be anything from a new restaurant to the new exhibit at the museum you're dying to see. I always recommend staying away from the face-to-face interview interrogation dating approach. You want to be engaged in an activity, doing something new, and the conversations that you have will be about the present moment, the activity you are engaged in,” she continues. “You'll be surprised by the type of information you will glean from those experiences. You'll find out things about your date that you would have never discovered doing the ‘cup of coffee’ date, drinks at a noisy bar, and sitting quietly in a movie.”
Don’t shy away from intense conversations.
Dating slow means not only getting to know someone as your partner, but as a human. And to do that, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open. That’s why Dr. Thomas urges singles to have meaningful discussions, even if it feels a little uncomfortable. “Having initial conversations which are about substantive topics such as likes and dislikes, interests, family, career, values, and more can help you identify if this prospective match and you have enough in common to make it worthwhile to meet. Use these talks to help more efficiently assess how compatible someone might be with you,” she shares.
Don’t be afraid to have group dates.
Since you’re hoping for a relationship that goes the distance, you’ll want your friends to be part of your life. That’s why Bradshaw recommends introducing those you love to your could-be partner early on. “Bring your date into your world and see how they interact with unknown, new, different people, the people who matter to you....your friends. What kinds of questions do they ask? How do they engage with others? How do they handle conversations? What ways do they contribute? What kind of ideas do they have? How do they handle different opinions? What do they share about themselves?,” she explains. This will give you a sense into how they will be in the long-term, allowing you to know if they’re truly a match for you.
Get off the apps.
Since slow dating is about being committed to one person—and one person only—Dr. Thomas says it’s better to decrease the time you spend on apps, since they’ll only serve as a distraction. “Not only can this be very time-consuming, but it can be very difficult to get to know anyone very well or be able to distinguish any of the matches of interest from each other,” she explains. “Pick the one that you are liking the best to meet for a date so that you can focus on giving both that person and you a chance to further get to know each other and not be side-tracked by other potential matches.”