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Last week, my friend let me know that she was done with swiping and would now be focusing her attention on slow dating. So what exactly is slow dating?


The slow-dating approach to courtship includes any form of dating in which people are not using a game-like app. Therefore, they are trading in the process of swiping through as many people as possible, focusing instead on quality, not quantity. I do want to point out that swiping leads to many successful relationships, and it’s not the platform per se, but the mindset of the dater that determines the approach he/she will take when examining his/her potential mates. However, this slow-dating approach, isn’t necessarily about speed, but intentionality. The focus is on creating more meaningful connections.

Those who create apps that focus on slow dating note that they create algorithms that hone in on the users’ personality and interests, before matching them with fewer (but *hopefully* more compatible) potential partners. Each site is different, so that is not a blanket comment noting that slow dating apps are better. In a way, even in-person curated dating events, could count as slow dating. Therefore, the traditional matchmakers who lamented the rise of the dating site/app, may have had it right all along. The key is that there is more of a focus on the person, than the process of swiping through/meeting many people. 

The concept of slow dating can take us back to dating before the dating website (the good old days? the dark ages?). The goal is for people to take more time to ascertain whether or not a potential partner would be a good fit. After sussing them out, you would go on a date, get to know more about him/her through the process of courtship, and decide whether to stay together or end the relationship. An entire relationship, simplified in two sentences! If only, it were that simple….


While online dating is excellent in that it offers people a platform to meet others that they normally wouldn’t meet, due to busy schedules, geographic location, etc., many people experience what is known as the paradox of choice. This is when having too many options makes it more challenging to select one. Having too much choice actually makes it more difficult to not only make a decision, but in making that decision, we may be more likely to rely on superficial characteristics. In fact, research has shown that when people are in a speed dating scenario, and exposed to daters with variable attributes, they made fewer date proposals. This effect was further exacerbated when more options were available (Lenton & Francesconi, 2011). Essentially, the variability led to confusion amongst the daters. Therefore, the more curated dating approach offered by many slow dating sites may be beneficial.

Many even suffer from dating fatigue as a result of constantly swiping. As we begin to understand that all of the people that are listed as a part of our potential pool are not necessarily people who we will “click” with and form a long-lasting relationship with, we may be more likely to not want to go back into the pool looking for others. Again, fewer, targeted options may be more appealing to users.

So…Do They Work?

So are slow dating apps better? The answer is not so clear. Research using machine learning has shown that while algorithms can predict the tendency to like and be liked by others, they aren’t successful in predicting compatibility (Joel, Eastwick, & Finkel, 2017). Therefore, it may not be the app we choose, but our level of comfort with the approach to dating we are using and a little bit of luck. Rather than give you a site/app recommendation, I wish you the best of luck.

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