‘It does worry me that people will rush the whole dating experience’ (Picture: Getty)
Most people on the dating scene will tell you there weren’t many positives to lockdown.
But we did see the rise of slow dating – a trend that encourages people to go slow, place greater value on an emotional rather than physical connection, and engage in sex at a later date than they usually would.
With lockdown, there wasn’t much choice but to embrace slow dating.
Now that people can sleepover at anyone else’s house come May 17, many will opt for a much faster way of dating – and will enjoy the freedom to do so.
But what if you liked slow dating?
For people open to a serious relationship, this mode of dating provided a way to enjoy getting to know someone on a deeper level before sex and socialising entered the picture.
A study by Virgin Media found that 38% of Brits in general are now used to living life in the ‘slow lane’ thanks to lockdown, and 25% are anxious about the pace that’s bound to increase from Monday.
Slow dating is one part of this, though some may deem it a boring way to form a connection with someone.
Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, tells us: ‘The rise of slow dating has been one of the benefits of finding love under lockdown.
‘Many new couples who were separated during the pandemic have gotten used to maintaining their connection with video dates and a much longer “getting to know you period” before things became physical.
‘For some people, this will have actually really benefited their dating lives.’
There are plenty of unwritten rules that dictate sex ‘should’ happen after the third, fifth, sixth, and so on, encounter.
Lockdown did away with this pressure.
Kim, a 19-year-old from Herfordshire, uses the Inner Circle dating app in the hopes of finding love, but she’s worried about the urgency people might now have when dating and looking for sex.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Slow dating does appeal, I think after a year and a half locked inside I don’t know how to date again.
‘It does worry me that people will rush the whole dating experience and end up hopping from one relationship to another due to the novelty of being able to date again.’
It’s been 20 months since she was last intimate with someone, and she calls that experience ‘a rollercoaster of good and bad emotions, [it] did not end very well at all.’
Now she’s concerned about how ‘people’s attitudes have changed’ when approaching dating – naturally, living through a pandemic will have contributed to some level of change.
Hayley says slow dating is particularly good for when daters are anxious about how to progress with someone, or where a situation is going.
‘If you tended to wear your heart on your sleeve and rush into relationships, taking things slowly may have been just the reset your dating life needed.
‘It may have prompted you to choose different partners, or realise that person who seemed really great on your first video date didn’t quite have the qualities you needed.
‘If you find slow dating helps to ease your anxiety, and make you feel more comfortable in (eventually) meeting someone IRL, there’s no need to abandon this dating trend just because lockdown is easing,’ she explains.
Recent research from Match shows that 18% of people want to carry on using Zoom as a tool to date people, even after June 21.
While that percentage of people may be the minority, clearly a portion of users have enjoyed the benefits of slow dating.
Kim is also worried about when the time comes for her to be physically intimate again, telling us a year off sex has ‘ruined my confidence’.
‘Given I have not been on a date in a long time I might be very rusty around the edges.
‘I think now it will take a bit longer to get intimate with someone given my history and the pandemic.
‘Another thing that I think has influenced this is because I know for some people it has not been a year off so I feel a little bit behind,’ she says, while adding that many of her friends continued their sex lives as normal.
She’s hoping to meet someone ‘patient and understanding’, who also wants to move slower, even while peers may want to move faster to make up for lost time.
It’s hard to know where to stand with people and when to bring up the issue of sex – while the vaccine programme is rolling out, we are still in a pandemic and some people will have vulnerabilities to consider.
Inner Circle found that while 40% of those in a survey are up for the first kiss, 35% are still not ready.
Hesitancy to become sexual with someone new will be seen as a result of both wanting to take time in knowing someone, but also feeling nervous about spreading covid.
Hayley advises: ‘Whether you are ready to race out of those gates to meet someone, or you want to take things more slowly, the most valuable thing you can do is to communicate.
‘Abandon your expectations of how you think someone else might think, and instead accept that people are going to have mixed feelings about restrictions ending.
‘To date successfully the most important step you can take is to identify whether someone shares your value system around subjects like physical touch.
‘Simply expressing “I’ve actually been enjoying taking things slowly…” or “I can’t wait to have a real life date…” will quickly let the other person know what your feelings are, and give them space to share their perspective.’
As with all kinds of relationships, communication is key.
If you aren’t ready to abandon slow dating, the chances are you’re not alone.
Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.
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