Do Dating Apps Work for Finding Friendships?

In a world of friend dating, I am a player.

Before my experience on Bumble BFF, I never would have described myself this way, but I have come to realize I didn’t know myself as well as I once thought. Compared to other social apps, Bumble is a top contender. Bumble is ranked the number two lifestyle app in Canada, according to DMR Business Statistics. In 2017, the app reported having 23 million users, 72% being millennials, making 2 million swipes every two hours, leaving a grand total of 850 million matches up to date. With those odds, I downloaded Bumble to see whether or not it was possible to form a genuine friendship through a matchmaking site, and gave myself two weeks to put it to the test.

 

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Like Tinder, once you download the app, you create a profile. Your profile is created by selecting six of your most flattering images, writing a cute description highlighting your hopes and dreams, and tying it all together by filling in your age and location.  The only difference between the two apps is that on Bumble, men cannot message you first. However, with Bumble there is a fine line between business and pleasure. Along with the Bumble BFF app, there is Bumble Date (the original arm of the platform) and Bumble Business allows you to meet people professionally.

I decided that if I was going to do this, I would be honest and only look for people who I could realistically form a friendship with. This meant looking for people who had similar interests, who were of similar age, and who lived or worked in the same area as I did. I first matched with a 21-year-old social-work student from Toronto. Her profile contained photos of her going out with her friends and cute pictures of her dog. Her bio read: “Looking for some new, cool, and real friends!! Oh, and I have a cute dog who is my absolute everything. Wine, clubs, bars, food, pretty much anything fun. Can’t forget about those girls’ nights in!”

Perfect, So I thought.

After a few messages back and forth, the conversation abruptly died. Leaving me to feel confused, wondering if I had done something wrong. That’s when I realized that these feelings were not new. This was something I’d felt before, on the Tinder app. A lot of my conversations continued on this way. I got the feeling that the people I was messaging were only interested in obtaining as many matches as they could. I matched with over 30 people on only my second day, which was a lot more matches than I was used to. By the end of the second week, I had over 60 matches. At this volume, it’s near impossible to find a balance between the amount of incoming matches to the output of responses I was giving.

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These one-worded conversations ate up my time and I had yet to have a conversation with someone lasting over an hour. It was difficult to stay true to my pact of swiping right (which, in the dating app world means a like) on only profiles that had genuine potential, and for some reason, I felt bad swiping so many people knowing that it would be almost impossible to meet and connect with them all. I decided at that point that I would not swipe any more profiles. I’d stick to the connections that I had made so far and see if I could make anything of them. Though it made me feel guilty, the only way that this app would work for me is if I used it in moderation. Once I did this, I felt my stress levels go down. It was a lot easier to manage my relationships without the pressure of feeling like I needed to get matches and I was able to focus on starting genuine conversations.

After dozens of conversations, hours of small talk, and trying to keep up with my virtual social life, everyone I spoke with gave me the same justification as to why they were on the app: Friend Dating may not be the most practical way to start friendships, but it is the only option for most. A lot of people that I interacted with shared that they simply do not have the time between working and their lives after hours to go out and meet people. Social apps have allowed for them to make connections from the comfort of their own home. Their reasoning was the exact reason I had been interested in this app in the first place. Between my commutes to and from work, spending time with my family, and preparing for everyday life, my social life was on hold.BFF-Bumble-Friends-National-Best-Friend-Bumble-Business-Bumble-Date-Bumble-BFF

It was nice to know that I was an appealing candidate in the world of friend dating, however this experience has made me realize that I am perfectly content with my life, even if that means seeming anti-social compared to most Bumble BFF users. At this moment with my finger hovering above the Bumble BFF “delete button,” the idea of having a small friend group and little social life seems a little less embarrassing and a lot more respectable.

Looking back on this, I have learned that it is helpful to have a plan. You should allot a certain amount of time the app so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to manage your conversations all day long. It is also important to bite off what you can chew in these situations. The app can become dull when you have twenty conversations that are exactly the same. Right away you will know who you should invest time into and who you shouldn’t. Most importantly, you should try not to be discouraged by people who are only interested in obtaining matches and not participating in genuine conversation. It is easy to feel bad when someone “ghosts” you. Just delete the conversation and move onto the next one.