I was standing in my friend’s apartment when she looked me dead in the face and shared the strangest dating advice I’ve ever heard: only use Tinder when you’re on the toilet.
It’s not a weird and slightly gross efficiency hack—this was her way of limiting the amount of time she spent perusing the catalog of humans on the app. Like so many others, she developed severe dating app fatigue and was sick of wasting hours per week on obligaswiping her way into an anxiety spiral. In an effort to swipe less and with more intention, she put strict parameters on her app usage. Only swipe while on the potty.
I didn’t know it at the time, but she’d essentially created her own form of “slow dating.” It’s a concept that sounds exactly like what it is—literally slowing down and spending more than .024 seconds on a profile before flicking your finger right or left.
Coined by the French creators of Once, a dating app that launched in France and recently made its way stateside earlier this year, slow dating is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: Instead of passively swiping through 50 “eligible” partners in one toilet session, Once employs slow dating to introduce each user to only one person, per day. The person you see on your screen also sees you on their screen, and if you both like each other, you start a conversation and see where it leads. If not, you have to wait until the next day to meet someone new.
Basically, Once literally forces everyone to slow the eff down by eliminating swiping altogether. Simple, genius, and so very ~French~.
That being said, there’s one obvious problem here: What if all your potential matches are bad? Cutting down on swipe time is great, but if you’re getting duds day after day, slow dating is just the regular disappointment of dating apps in slow motion (bleak).
Jean Meyer, CEO of Once, says making good matches is a concern, obviously, but he’s more focused on cutting down absentminded app time.
“Even if your match of the day is crap, it’s okay,” Meyer says. “Maybe you’re not going to talk to that person, but at least you’re going to put the app away, and you may even put your phone away and do something else with your day. You can put 100 percent into another task that’s not swiping on ten-thousand profiles.”
Hack your own version of slow dating
◻️ Use your iPhone settings to limit screentime allowed on dating apps
◻️ Designate certain times or places you’re allowed to browse the apps
◻️ Give yourself a “twenty seconds” rule: you can’t swipe until you’ve spent at least 20 seconds on their profile
◻️ Only allow yourselves 20 total swipes per day
◻️ Download Once, and force yourself to slow TF down
What Meyer sees as the big issue driving up everybody’s swipe rate is the idea that there’s always something (or, in this case, someone) better out there. The mentality that you should always be looking for a better job, a better apartment, a better going-out top—whatever—has seeped into the dating mentality. “People have way too many options, they try to optimize everything,” Meyer says.
The League, which only serves users a few matches per day, operates on a similar premise as Once. And when Hinge redesigned to eliminate swiping and force people to slow down a bit, users grew by more than 400 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. Once takes the slow dating premise Hinge decided to focus on to the absolute extreme, and unlike The League, it doesn’t come with an application process or waiting list. You just download, and then wait.
If you’re a dating app developer, the slow dating approach feels almost counterintuitive. Why encourage people to use your app less, when there are countless options out there to lure them away? Meyer hopes the thing that keeps people joining Once (as seven million already have, according to the Wall Street Journal) is the app’s dedication to building the best matches possible. “We’re trying to recreate the feeling of when you see two people in the street, and somehow you know they fit together,” Meyer says.
Whether you download Once or employ slow dating in some other way, the laissez-faire approach could be the long-needed refresh your love life needs. Who better to trust with romance than the French?
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