I'm A Slow-Burner - The Benefits Of Really Letting Feelings Take Their Time

"I'm a slow-burner." Fans of romance-driven reality shows like "Love Island" and "Married at First Sight" are probably familiar with this phrase by now. The "slow-burner" label is often used to describe someone's personality the same way they might say, "I'm an INFJ," or, "I'm an Enneagram Three." While "slow burner" has multiple meanings, in relationships (and on the aforementioned TV shows), it's generally code for, "I take time to warm up and decide how I feel about other people."


For those who have been burned (no pun intended) by this kind of remark before, it's easy to write it off as just another way to indirectly reject someone or, at the very least, communicate emotional unavailability. And slow-burners don't exactly fit in nicely with the fast-paced scroll-and-swipe style of finding love and friendship that's become the norm.

Still, being a slow-burner isn't always a bad thing. In fact, there are some major benefits to taking a slow and steady approach to relationships, such as building a stronger bond with someone.

Instant sparks are overrated

Whether you're looking for love or a new friend to add to your squad, there's often a societal expectation that you'll feel a spark if you're truly compatible. But for slow-burner types, there might only be a subtle fizzle instead of fireworks — and that's completely okay.


"We all think that an initial spark is an indicator of compatibility; however, there is a lot more to a long-lasting and healthy relationship than the initial spark of the first date," Jessica Jefferson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told Well+Good. "An initial spark is more indicative of infatuation than compatibility." The same can be said for platonic relationships too. Just because you don't feel overwhelming excitement the first time you meet doesn't mean you have to write them off.

When you're a slow-burner, you understand that first impressions aren't always reliable, and our initial feelings about someone can't possibly tell the whole story. In fact, an instant spark in a relationship could be a major red flag. You might also face disappointment when that zingy electricity runs out, and the relationship no longer feels as exciting as it did in the beginning. With a slow burn, there's still chemistry — it just takes time to build.


You can build deeper bonds with people

If you're looking for a meaningful connection with other people, being a slow-burner will often work in your favor. Sure, knee-jerk judgments of others might help you sort through people quickly, but giving yourself time to gauge your feelings is more effective if you prefer quality over quantity. "Slow burn love takes time to grow," Laurel House, a relationship expert at eHarmony, explained to Slice. "Instead of dating for the purpose of fun and superficial [times], we are PrioriDating and the priority is real, deep, and emotionally expansive love. And that type of love is created through vulnerable conversations that take time to have, once complete trust has been established."


This kind of connection and emotional intimacy simply can't be fast-tracked. "Quite simply, trust takes time. A lot of time," sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr shared with Elite Daily. "Especially in situations where your new [or] potential partner feels like a dream come true, it's easy to give them credit and think the best of them." Fehr added that you and your new love interest or potential bestie have to experience conflict before you can accurately decide if they're trustworthy or not. Slow-burners don't mind — they'd rather not hand out trust to just anyone anyway.

Slow-burner relationships match your (already hectic) schedule

It can take between 200 and 300 hours spent together before two people form a close relationship, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Unless you have an empty schedule just waiting to be filled with dates and hangouts, you might have to wait several months before you'll know someone well enough to call them "bestie" or "the one."


The reality is that most of us are pretty busy. A 2019 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of H&R Block (Via New York Post) found that 59% of American adults feel too busy to complete basic tasks like cleaning or attending doctor's appointments. If you're one of the many who doesn't even have time to stay on top of laundry (BTW, it's probably time to wash your PJs), you likely don't have much time to devote to new relationships either.

So does this mean you should take an instant-gratification-or-bust approach to meeting people? Not at all. Instead, it means that you might need to be intentional about the kinds of relationships you want and remain patient when creating them. By embracing being a slow-burner, you can keep a realistic timeline for getting to know people — and hopefully still have time for laundry day.


You can continue making your independence a priority

Picture this: You've found someone new who's totally swept you off your feet, and you're honestly pretty preoccupied with keeping the good vibes going. It's normal to focus a lot of your attention on a new crush or friend who seems like your perfect match — especially when you've already caught feelings. However, your infatuation might distract you from the other things that bring you joy and fulfillment. Nights out with your old crew? Now taken over by time with your new boo. Those hot yoga classes you used to attend? No longer a priority. And your career? Admittedly, you've lost some motivation and keep checking your phone mid-work for a new text.


Sure, this all might sound kind of extreme, but many of us have, at one point or another, gotten so caught up in the rush of an accelerated relationship we lost bits of ourselves. When you allow for a slower burn and continue investing in friendships and self-care outside of your new relationship, you're more likely to make a level-headed decision you won't regret later. "You can decide if the relationship is still working for you, and you can feel confident that you can separate yourself from it if things get really bad and not lose a significant chunk of your life and who you are," Dr. Judy Ho, a licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, revealed to The Knot.

You might sidestep toxic fantasy bonds

Fantasy bonds, a term originally coined by Dr. Robert Firestone, are relationships built on fantasy, not reality. Rather than seeing a partner for who they really are, you view them through rose-colored glasses, fixating on their potential and not their problems. When you're looking for your next BFF or romantic partner, it's easy to make these kinds of biased assessments. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology proves this. In the study, daters were selective when evaluating potential partners on paper, but once they met in person, they were much more likely to lower their standards and evaluate their match positively — regardless of how compatible they really were.


When you want a relationship to work out before you've really had enough time to get to know each other, you might be more likely to get caught up in a fantasy bond. "Rushing into a relationship typically looks like granting full access to someone too early on when you barely know them and agreeing to a commitment too quickly into the 'getting to know you' stage," licensed therapist and life coach Tiffany Richards told MadameNoire. "When you are always looking ahead, it's hard to see what's right in front of you, mainly red flags." Slow-burners are in no rush, meaning they have more time to catch warning signs and deal-breakers before falling for a deceptive fantasy bond.