These days, online dating seems like a no-brainer way to meet someone you want to hook up with. But an app to find friends? At first, that just seems flat out strange. The kind of thing that makes you go "why would anyone do that?" Like hot dog eating contests or supporting Trump. But Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe didn’t think so because her so-called feminist dating app added a BFF mode which allows users to swipe right or left for new friends.
When it comes to friends, I like to think I have a pretty tight circle, but I really wouldn’t mind having another girlfriend who enjoys rock music as much as I do.
I decided to give the app a whirl and see what happens. I uploaded a standard face shot as well as vacation shots and fun action pics of me biking, at a concert and dancing so potential BFFs could see if we had any similar interests. I felt cool and exciting, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Part of me wondered if the women on there would be introverts, socially awkward or desperate psychos. I prefer my friendships to be less like summer flings and more like long-term relationships, so I carefully read every profile, swiping right if I legitimately thought someone would be a good match.
Unfortunately, the Bumble BFF profiles are the same ones used for the regular Bumble profiles, so I saw plenty of bathroom mirror selfies and pouty duck faces. I couldn't help but swipe firmly to the left on those. Call me superficial, but I knew I could never take anyone who makes a duck face seriously. I swiped right on professionals with interests in the outdoors, brunching, road trips and of course music.
After about 20 swipes and still no matches, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. Did people not like me? Was I not an alluring potential BFF? I began to swipe right with reckless abandon hoping and praying anyone would like me. Finally, the matches started rolling in. Unlike in the traditional dating world where I would just wait for the guy to make conversation with me, I knew I would have to make a move.
I struck up a conversation with Katie*. She lived in Jersey City and enjoyed dining out, bike riding, going upstate, happy hour and listening to new music. Our conversation was going well enough that I thought we should meet up. It felt odd to ask another woman I’ve never met before if she would like to meet up, but nothing ventured nothing gained right? So, I asked her if she would like to meet up for a drink. What I received in response was a long, rambling message about how she is going on vacation soon and she isn't feeling well, but she would let me know when she was up for it. Turns out finding a BFF online can be just as ridiculous and excuse-ridden as finding a date.
Not interested in the excuses, I unmatched with Katie. Call me cold, but signing up for a BFF (or dating app) and spending so much time messaging when you’re clearly unavailable is nothing short of nuts. I encountered another woman who also mentioned a long summer vacation before I matched with Felicity. She was Ukrainian, had lived in New York for several years and enjoyed going to concerts. After chatting back and forth, we made plans to meet up. The morning of our date, she bailed citing too much to do at work and asked if we could meet up another time. I told her that was fine and I could take a rain check. She never did reach out again. Nonetheless, I soldiered on hoping to find my future musical BFF on Bumble. Finally, I matched with Maddie.
"Led Zeppelin fan? [clapping emojis]" she messaged me.
"I am! You too?" I responded. I couldn’t believe I actually met another woman who liked Led Zeppelin.
We soon began chatting about work, music and travel. I suggested meeting up for drinks and Maddie proposed a comedy show in LIC halfway between our two neighborhoods of Astoria and Williamsburg. Walking in, I noticed the bar looked and smelled like someone's basement. This might turn some people off, but it only served to make me think Maddie had to be a cool laid-back girl to pick a place like this.
When Maddie arrived, it felt slightly odd at first. Here I was on a semi-blind date with a woman hoping we would become friends. Could there be a more artificial way to make a connection? But 15 minutes in, the conversation was flowing pretty smoothly. Maddie seemed perfectly normal, smart and confident and not remotely awkward or psycho. In fact, our convo was going so well we ending up missing the comedy show. We talked about everything from travel to music to men. It seemed oddly… easy. I wasn’t expecting my blind bestie date to go so fluidly. A couple hours later, we parted ways, agreeing to meet up again.
Maddie was off on a trip to the West Coast the following day, and I was going to be busy doing a trade show. Will we meet up again? I sure hope so.
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