Forget swiping right. ‘Slow dating’ is a trend that aims for a meaningful connection

“Just like the slow food movement is a reaction to cheap and unhealthy fast food, the slow dating movement is a reaction to quick and meaningless hookups that can be made easy by dating apps,” she says. “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. Slow dating also often means that the sexual intimacy stage of the relationship comes later, after getting to know one another.”

Great sex or great politics? More OKC users prefer the latter

Melissa Hobley, CMO of OkCupid tells NBC News BETTER that users are increasingly showing interest in learning what a person values versus what a person looks like, particularly in our politically divided climate.

People are saying, ‘I don’t want to know if you have a six-pack, I want to know if you care about climate change.’

“[Our question] ‘Do you prefer same politics or great sex?’ used to always [elicit the response] ‘great sex’, but it’s changed now, and we’ve seen a jump in political terms skyrocket,” says Hobley, noting that the trend has been strongest among millennials. “People are saying, ‘I don’t want to know if you have a six-pack, I want to know if you care about climate change.’ Young women particularly are saying do not message or swipe right if you don’t [share my politics]. One of our questions we ask users is about voting and most younger people do not want to be shown someone who didn’t vote in the last election or who is not registered for midterm elections.”


Quality over quantity combats dating burnout

Slow dating typically entails limiting how many potential love interests you’re engaging with. This can be beneficial when you’re feeling the effects of “swipe thumb,” “dating app fatigue” or even “burnout”, notes Christie Tcharkhoutian M.A., MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

“These are all terms that have developed out of a response to the backlash that dating apps have created by providing an overwhelming number of potential choices,” she says. “Our brain on dating apps has created a binary process of choosing the right person, where you have a few seconds to decide (based on a first impression of a few photos) whether you will swipe right or left. This is more of a reflex rather than a process that utilizes cognitive decision-making to see if a three-dimensional person is someone you can interact with over coffee or drinks, and if there is a connection. Dating apps, if not approached thoughtfully, can create a situation where people are overwhelmed by the number of choices, and as science tells us, when stuck in the ‘paradox of choice’ we often have a hard time choosing anybody.”

Some people do prefer and thrive with this ‘reflexive dating’, but many prosper when they have “fewer matches and an opportunity to humanize and be more reflective about the process,” says Tcharkhoutian. “Slow dating is a way to be more engaged in the process of dating rather than becoming a consumer in a buffet of people where you can pick and choose how much you like people than believe that a relationship is a co-created process between two imperfect people, in which you will change and improve with your partner. When trying to find your match, quality over quantity can sometimes be the name of the game, and what you’ll hopefully discover with the fewer quantity of people, is that every single person has value and is ‘quality’ and it’s just a matter of discovering what’s underneath the surface to see if they are someone whose internal qualities are compatible with yours.”

Slow dating is ideal for the busy person who knows what they want

Sa’iyda Shabazz, a 32-year-old writer and single mother of a five-year-old, didn’t date for years because she was simply too busy to deal with it. She decided to start dating again recently, and found that a slow dating approach quelled her anxiety around diving into the world of dating apps.

“I haven’t been in the dating game for nine years, so I was super nervous and taking it slow really helped me feel less overwhelmed,” says Shabazz, who intentionally swiped on very few people, took breaks between doing so, and went out with just three people, one of whom she is now happily dating.