In Praise Of Slow Dating

When did we let our quick-fix culture mess with our dating life?

Maybe it’s the influence of Tinder, or more generally our “buy it now” culture, but I feel like there’s an increasing pressure on dating to have immediate results. Whether it’s sex or commitment or marriage, it seems like more and more people I come across online want things to basically go from 0 to 100 in a very short time.

The popularity of my post about “ask me anything” on Fetlife brought many comments to it, and along with these comments some interesting discussions of men complaining that none of their efforts were working, that they couldn’t get a reply to their messages, let alone a date. Although that’s not really the topic of this post, one commenter in particular had a long profile (now saved as a journal entry) detailing how he wanted a lifetime relationship with a submissive woman who would basically be the model of a ’50s housewife.

What I take issue with is not his desire (that’s perfectly OK, and many women want that kind of relationship model), but rather how it seemed that he was expecting said woman to do so pretty much right away.

How can you get to know someone that deeply and intimately over days or weeks?

What happened to taking your time developing strong, intimate, caring relationships?

Speed Dating, Slow Dating

I’m not saying that you can’t have an inkling of chemistry in the first few minutes of a meeting. But that’s all it is: chemistry.

I like to think of initial chemistry as the potential for a reaction. It’s hard to describe, but it’s easy to know when you have it. You are looking forward to speaking to that person again. Thinking of them makes you smile. You remember their words and their attitude for a long time. There’s a little something that makes you want to get to know them better.

And we don’t always react with everyone. That’s life.

But then…what happens? First kiss, first sex, first weekend, moving in, getting engaged, getting married, getting pregnant? All of this should happen over an extended period of time, like a couple years. But really, you can’t be dating for so long, because otherwise why bother? (I know it happens quickly sometimes. That’s fine. But since when should that be the default for everyone else?)

I’ll tell you why bother.

Because time builds stronger relationships. Because taking your time will actually confirm that you’re compatible, or let you move out of the relationship with dignity.

Going too fast, too hard, is likely to end in disaster.

The Benefits Of Time

Why are we all in such a rush?

I met E. once, and then didn’t actually see him for months. Then I spent an evening with him and a friend. We started texting. Nothing much, just casual chats getting to know each other. He checked in on me. I invited him over when M. was out of town on weekends to drink wine and chat.

He never made a move during those months. We were just friends.

I knew there could be something there, and so did he. You already know the story: I gave my relationship with M. one last chance, it failed, and then I pursued the thing with E. This didn’t last long, but these were for reasons outside of my control.

Our friendship, our courtship, our getting to know each other? It lasted over a year and a half.

And now, one year later, we’re almost to the point where we can be together again.

I must say: We were both scared, both worried that our forced separation would break us up. It has been a frustrating time, but also one where we kept getting to know each other, where we kept being involved in each other’s life.

Time, instead of diminishing our love, has strengthened it.

Take It

So, even if your biological clock is ticking, even if you are feeling desperate for companionship, don’t give in. Don’t sacrifice your happiness for the promise of a quick fix.

Take your time.

My (obviously limited) experience has shown me that those crazy intense relationship debuts end up puttering out really fast. It’s what happened with N. and R. But when I took it slow, when I took my time, like with E., it has been more enduring and more reliable.

So be as sure as you can be (nobody can be 100% sure of anything in life) that this person will make a great companion for you. That this person is worthy of your love. That this person cares about you beyond fulfilling their own biological clock or need for companionship.

And how can they show that?

By sticking with you over the months, over the years, come hell or high water.

So, Date Slow

When you meet someone new, take your time. It doesn’t mean wait forever to have sex; it just means take your time to get to know them. It means don’t make big, crazy commitments (a marriage, a child) without at least some knowledge of what that will look like.

When looking for a partner, first look for a friend. Friendship outlasts the crazy first six months of hormones…crushes don’t. Friendship can be sustained over years, over miles, of separation. True friendship, the kind that is worthy of maintaining, is the best kind of relationship.

And the best relationships stand the test of time.

Anabelle Bernard Fournier is a freelance writer hailing from Victoria, Canada. She loves to read, cook, and fantasize about getting a pet to keep her company during the day, and who will let her take hundreds of cute kitty pictures.

This originally appeared on The Story Of A. Republished here with permission.

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