Launched in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble now sits as the second most-popular dating app in the United States (close behind Tinder, which Herd also co-created). A lesser-known setting on the app is Bumble BFF, added to the main platform in 2016 to help people “match” with possible friends and to grow new platonic relationships.
The BFF setting and the dating setting have a very similar structure– You build your profile with photos, add tags with your background and interests, and you type answers to a couple of chosen questions to showcase your personality. You swipe right on others’ profiles to indicate that you’re interested, and swiping left to indicate that you’re not.
When you match with someone on the BFF setting, either person can start the conversation, contrasting with the dating setting where only women can send the first message (applies to heterosexual relationships; the app allows either person to start the conversation in a same-sex match).
The most popular age group on Bumble BFF is between 23 and 29 years old– a time when many students have finished their undergraduate degrees and are transitioning from college to their career field, or possibly pursuing grad school.
So, as a junior who just transferred to K-State this semester with next to no friends in Manhattan, I decided to join Bumble BFF on a whim. I adjusted my filters to the age range of 20-25 years old, within a 40-mile radius.
What should I include in my profile?
If you download the Bumble app and register a free account with them, it’ll walk you through the steps to fully build your profile. It suggests that you upload at least 4 photos of you doing what you love. It’s good to include a couple shots of you, by yourself, clearly showing your face so that people know it’s you. This will help avoid the confusion of someone trying to decipher who you are out of a bunch of group photos with your friends.
Connect your Spotify if you want to show folks the artists you’re listening to, or add your Instagram if you want to share some recent posts with them. There were people adding their Snapchat and TikTok handles to their bios as well. There are lots of tags about hobbies you can choose from, as well as info like your relationship status, faith / religion / spirituality, what languages you know, and more. You can even get specific on what you’re looking for in your bio– a dedicated gym buddy, someone to watch horror movies with, someone who loves nights out, someone who always goes on hikes, etc.
Bumble also offers Profile Verification, where the app generates a random pose that you have to take a selfie mimicking. According to the company, they utilize “a combination of automated and human review to check that your selfie matches the person in your profile photos, and within a few minutes, your verification will be confirmed or denied.” This helps potential matches know that you are who you say you are.
Here’s what my profile looks like:
What happens if I match with someone? How do I start the conversation?
With answers to the basic questions like “Where are you from?”, “Where do you go to school?”, and “What do you do for fun?”, you might be wondering how to put your best foot forward when the app prompts you to reach out first.
The best way to start is by looking back at your match’s profile and picking something that stands out to you, or talking about something you both have in common. I met a K-State grad student on the app who said she loves to dance, so I asked, “Do you just like going out to bars and dancing with a group of friends, or do you know any specific types of dances?” I learned that she knows some west coast swing and loves Latin dance styles like salsa. She even mentioned a Latin Dance Club that meets every Tuesday night in the Union. BOOM– I just learned a cool fact about her and found a fun setting to meet.
Here’s a few more simple options that yielded good results for me:
- “What are some of your favorite songs at the moment?” / “Do you have a favorite album by [artist I have in common with this person]? I want to explore more of their stuff and am looking for recommendations.” (Music is one of my favorite ways to connect with people)
- Lead with a compliment: “I love your style! Where do you usually like to shop?”
- “What’s the number one item on your bucket list?”
- If they’re still in school: “Do you have any ideas about what you want to do after you graduate?”
If you prefer to skip the small talk, I highly recommend Googling the “36 questions,” created by Arthur Aron, a psychology professor at the State University of New York (SUNY). The questions are all open-ended, written in an increasingly personal order specifically designed to bring any two strangers together.
Can it actually help me make friends?
Yes! Bumble BFF has matched me with multiple people who I’ve gotten along with, and it was a great way to expand my friend horizons beyond who’s in the classes and club meetings that I attend. I’m generally an introvert and a bit of a homebody, so I have to remind myself to branch out every once in a while.
When I do make a connection with someone (and I have enough of a “charge” in my “social battery”), I much prefer in-person conversation when I’m getting to know them. Bumble BFF was a good segway into that. It might feel a little awkward when you get started (it was definitely awkward for me), but it’s easy to move past because you know that everyone in the BFF category is there for the same reason– to make friends.
When I swiped right on someone’s profile and happened to match with that person, I already knew that we shared the same interests.
We’re not all natural extroverts…if you are, then more power to you! But if you feel intimidated by the thought of approaching strangers in public to start a conversation, the structure of Bumble BFF’s profile can help you gauge what you’re walking into.
That said… you can’t just download the app and expect people to come to you. You actively need to swipe profiles to match with someone and engage in conversation. If things are going really well and you want to continue things off of the app, you can schedule a time to meet up in person (arrange your own ride there, meet in a local, public place, let reliable friends and family know where you’re going, and stay sober– click here for more safety tips when meeting up with people online).
If you’re looking to take things slower, you can add them on Snapchat, follow each other on Instagram, and continue the conversation. If you’re both willing to put in the effort, Bumble BFF is a great way to meet new people!
Graphic by: Madison Wooderson