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What You Need to Know About Slow Dating, AKA the New Way Daters Are Connecting During COVID

From Bumble’s Dating 101 in 2021 guide.

Dating has changed in so many ways since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re having new conversations about safety; we’re facing new mental health challenges; and we’re using new tools to connect with each other. Even the actual pace of dating has shifted. If you’ve been matching and chatting on Bumble or looking for a relationship, it’s possible you’ve experienced ‘slow dating,’ even if you’ve never heard the term before!

‘Slow dating’ is what it sounds like: people taking the time to get to know each other and build a connection before deciding if they want to pursue the relationship or meet in person. There are a few reasons why this trend has emerged: First, with lockdowns and quarantines, it can be difficult to move things offline at all, so more time is being dedicated to getting to know each other virtually. But even as COVID-related restrictions have eased and evolved, people are still taking the time to have important conversations about safety and boundaries with matches, and want to make sure that the person they’re meeting up with is worth the potential health risk.

And perhaps most encouragingly, according to Jemma Ahmed, head of insights at Bumble, another reason why this slow dating trend has emerged is because many daters have used quarantine to think critically about what they want in a relationship. “People are starting to get to know themselves a lot more,” says Ahmed. “And as a result they’re taking the time to figure out who is and isn’t right for them.”

Happily, this new pace comes with upsides. Ahmed shares that by taking their time, daters are “making deeper and more meaningful connections, and they’re more willing to go beyond that surface level to really try and get to know someone.” According to Ahmed’s research, many daters’ priorities have shifted, and “they’re looking for something a lot more meaningful,” she says.

“Many daters have used quarantine to think critically about what they want in a relationship.”

How can folks looking to date during COVID navigate this change? Well, slow dating means that you might want to be open to spending more time chatting with someone—be that via messaging, phone calls, or Bumble’s Video Chat feature—before meeting up. It means having deeper or longer conversations to get to know a potential partner, and it means not being offended if a match doesn’t want to meet up right away. These are tricky times, and everyone is moving at their own pace.