Saturday, July 13, 2024

What Is a Slow Burn Relationship? A Therapist Explains

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Like a slow-cooked meal or book that gets better with each chapter, some of the best things in life take time — including relationships. Unlike what you most often see on romantic TV shows and movies, not every date you go on will feel like love at first sight. But just because you may not feel an initial spark doesn’t mean there won’t be a connection later: it could be the beginning of a “slow burn” relationship.

As the name implies, a slow burn relationship is a connection that gradually builds over time. It may not feel like fireworks at first, but these types of partnerships tend to grow into deep, meaningful bonds.

“When you find someone through a slow burn relationship, it’s much more likely to last long because you are more sure that you’re really into the other person,” couples therapist Sofie Roos says, adding that this makes them an investment worth pursuing. Keep reading to learn more about why.

Experts Featured in This Article

Sofie Roos is a sexologist and couples therapist with over 18 years of experience.

What Is a Slow Burn Relationship?

A slow burn relationship is a love connection that develops gradually over a longer period of time. The benefits of this dating style is it can help build tension, attraction, and feelings — a good recipe for falling in love, Roos says.

Though it’s possible to develop a slow burn relationship with someone you met off of a dating app, Roos says these partnerships most often happen with people you may least expect it with, like friends, coworkers, and neighbors. This is because those relationships almost always begin platonically, allowing you to get to know each other before diving into a romantic connection. When it comes to meeting someone off a dating app, both people go into the date with some sort of romantic or sexual intention, which can make things move faster than it might in a slow burn relationship.

While it has its benefits, slow and steady relationships may come more naturally to some than it does for others. “Some people have a hard time catching feelings by nature, which makes it take very long until they feel comfortable taking the next steps,” Roos says. This can be the case for people with avoidant attachment styles or for those who have experienced love bombing and want to prevent a relationship from moving too quickly again.

What Are the Signs of a Slow Burn Relationship?

Slow burn relationships can look however you want them to. The concept largely depends on your and your partner’s comfort levels. According to Roos, though, here are some signs of a slow burn relationship:

  • You feel something toward this person that’s deeper than horniness.
  • You may not love them in the way you’ve experienced love before, but you get “warm in your body” when you think about them.
  • You feel safe and centered around them.
  • The thought of being intimate with this person isn’t completely off the table.
  • You engage in deeper conversations that go beyond surface level.
  • You are each other’s support systems.

Do Slow Burn Relationships Last?

Slow burn relationships are among the longest romantic relationships one can have,” Roos says. Though there’s no definitive amount of time a slow relationship needs to be, Roos says that most people fall in love between 80 to 140 days.

Because it takes that long to fall in love, slow burn relationships tend to last even longer. “Many slow daters are together for years since they build up something that also takes longer time to break,” Roos says. “They are more stable against problems in the relationship since their foundation is stronger.”

How to Start a Slow Burn Relationship

If you’re interested in starting a slow burn relationship, the worst thing you can do is friend zone someone after a month or two. “It’s one of the most common mistakes people make when they say they can’t find love,” Roos says. If there’s someone in your life who you really enjoy spending time with and feel safe and happy with, it could be worth seeing this person as a potential partner.

Of course, you can’t decide who you fall in love with, and you also can’t force a romantic relationship with someone just because they make you feel happy and safe. But Roos encourages people to “give some relationships more love,” she says. “Don’t walk over the river for water — start digging where you’re already standing.”

Another strategy to starting a slow burn relationship: forget about the initial dopamine kick. Even if you don’t feel fireworks or a connection immediately at the beginning of meeting someone, that doesn’t mean pursuing the person is a lost cause. “You will need to invest the time,” Roos says. So try to avoid righting anyone off until you’ve given yourself enough time to pursue that relationship.

Ultimately, you can pursue a slow burn relationship however you’d like. If you do, though, you may find that you could build your strongest relationship yet.

Taylor Andrews is a Balance editor at PS who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more.

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