Living through lockdown has taught us many things.
How to make our own bread, for example.
The power of a nice walk outside, for another.
It’s also had quite a dramatic impact on our love lives, for many reasons. With casual sex no longer on the cards and IRL meetups becoming trickier to navigate, one trend is emerging, and experts think it will stick around long after Covid-19 is gone.
That trend is slow dating, which is exactly what it sounds like: taking things slow, enjoying the talking stage, and refusing to rush ahead into entanglements, both emotional and physical.
‘During the summer lockdown, 71% of British daters said love was more important than sex,’ Melissa Hobley, the global chief marketing officer at OkCupid, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘This was driven by more singletons dating online and meant that we saw our daters go on and enjoy virtual dates more and more, with many claiming that they were able to get to know their date better.
‘The pressure to meet up IRL was minimal during lockdown as a result of the many socially distant regulations which were put in place, so we saw a rise in slow dating, meaning a blend of virtual dating and deeper conversations.
‘And, with no clear end in sight for lockdown, it’s likely this will continue as we head into 2021 and beyond. This is good news for singletons who are looking to build emotional connections before physical ones!’
The rise of slow dating makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
In 2020, the decision to meet up with someone offline, let alone be physically intimate with them, has had a whole new layer of pressure. To get physical, you need to have decided to bubble up, which then rules out other people. Suddenly even a kiss is a commitment, something to consider; which in turn makes it difficult to rush the physical side of things too quickly and get turned off.
Throw in the rise of Zoom and virtual dates, meaning more time spent having conversations without hooking up, and it’s only natural that we’re newly savouring the thrill of taking things at a snail’s pace and letting emotional intimacy come before that physical connection.
But what should you do if you’re into the slow dating thing, but the person you’re seeing wants to switch gears?
‘It’s important to remind them that intimacy isn’t just a physical thing and it’s not only touch that can create deep and meaningful connections. In the context of the pandemic, this should be an idea which is easier for them to get on-board with,’ says Melissa. ‘For example, spending a bit of face to face, one on one time, even if only virtually, will help you get to know one another better and build your relationship.’
‘If you’re concerned about the speed your date or partner is taking things, voice your concerns. If you approach this topic calmly, it’s likely they’ll listen and you can work together on keeping things exciting.’
It’s natural to worry about losing the spark when you’re dating at a slower pace, but it is possible to keep the electricity pinging even when you’re not actually touching each other.
It’s worth making a concerted effort to schedule in time that’s romantic, even if it’s not physical, so you don’t end up with a texting penpal.
‘You could organise a dinner date over FaceTime or a virtual movie night with Netflix Party – these are both ways to keep the fun alive, but also assert those physical boundaries,’ says Melissa.
‘You could also create ‘date plans’ together and block out the days you’re free to meet virtually (and in person when it’s safe to do so). Why not have a ‘theme’ for each date to keep things exciting?
‘This may only be once a fortnight, but it gives both parties something to look forward to and is also a natural way to keep things moving, but at a comfortable pace.’
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