They quickly figured out they had a lot of common interests. “It’s almost like she is a mirror image of me,” Tapiki says. “Never did the conversation feel forced.”
When they eventually met in May after much texting and some video calling, 22-year-old Price says they “gelled even more” and have been together ever since, unfazed by the two-hour distance between where Price lives in Newcastle and Tapiki in Sydney.
They are two of many Australians embracing the pandemic-influenced trend of “slow dating”, which involves taking the time to get to know a person on a more meaningful level and slow down the swipes.
Dating app Bumble, which now allows singles to signal their interest in virtual or social distanced dating, surveyed almost 400 of its Australian users and about two-thirds said their dating behaviours had changed, with many embracing a longer courtship period and setting the trust bar higher before meeting.
One in three of these respondents also said they were now less concerned about physical appearance and more interested in personality.
“Previously we would see people go on dates pretty quickly after matching because that was the end goal,” says Bumble’s country lead for Australia, Lucille McCart.
“Think about your typical first date, you might ask how many siblings you have, where you went to school … Now on your first date, you already know all that stuff about each other.
“It’s a totally different concept for dating… We’re seeing a huge amount of importance placed on conversation that perhaps [people] skipped over before in the rush to go out for drinks and dinner.”
Dating coach Samantha Jayne believes the last few months have been great for dating culture.
“Previously there was a real hookup culture, people were swiping and getting straight to the bedroom,” she says. “You shouldn’t be swiping on 100 people a day because then you go into the paradox of choice and that’s overwhelming and you’re just looking for the next best thing.”
Jayne believes trying to meet right away is the “wrong attitude” as it “leaves you going on dates with people you don’t really know”. She says chatting for one to three months first works well.
“You really get to know them. You get to see their patterns, are they out drinking, do they exercise, how much time do they spend with friends and family, are there any slip-ups in communication?”
Jayne says many people are taking more time to really examine a potential match’s profile for compatibility before swiping.
It’s not the first time the concept of “slow dating” has gained traction. Five-year-old French app Once, which permits users to have only one match per day, is thought to have coined the term.
Sex therapist Chantelle Otten says slow dating may sound boring, but it doesn’t need to be. She recommends turning virtual interactions into cooking dates, home tours, happy hours or meeting each other’s pets.
“I really like the movement because it’s making a return of genuine connection and romance,” she says, adding that a distanced walk is also great when ready to physically meet.
Price and Tapiki are over the moon they allowed the time to connect virtually. “Everything else in my life is complicated but this is the one thing that’s nice and good,” Price says. “He truly is one of the best people I’ve ever met.”
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Sophie is Deputy Lifestyle Editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
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