As an only child with no cousins or relatives my age, my friendships have meant a lot.
Before I graduated college, a combination of flaky friends and a lack of self-awareness around my issues — later brought to light by lots of therapy and sobriety — left me without a lifelong BFF to call my own at the ripe old age of 22.
However, over the past six years, I’ve made friendships that have endured (thank god).
Unfortunately, half of them have since moved away, and even though we keep in very close touch, I’m down brunch buddies, coffee dates, and party invites.
Guys, making friends as an adult is hard, no matter how extroverted, outgoing, funny, social, thoughtful, or not-creepy you are.
I’ve always said that I wished there was “an app for that” when it came to making friends.
And then, one day, the clouds parted and the sun shined on a magazine article about that exact thing.
Enter Bumble BFF.
I immediately thought, why not? I’d always wondered what it’d be like to swipe right or left since I met my husband right before Tinder hit it big.
After figuring out how to put my best foot forward in my profile — be direct, only post two wedding photos, dog photo as my main, and the rest with friends (because BFF) — I began to swipe.
In my first 10 minutes, I quickly learned my own preference pattern.
If you are holding drinks in your main pic, I won’t immediately rule you out, but if drinking is a theme for you and you feel like it’s worth mentioning in your bio (HH also stands for Happy Hour, not just Helaina Hovitz), I send you to the left.
I do not share your love of Bravo reality TV. Left.
I think listing binge-watching Netflix as a pastime is like saying you enjoy sleep. That’s not what you do to be social. Left.
An animal in the shot almost always landed you to the right.
“Foodie": right — but I can tell if you’re an actual foodie and eat that food or just enjoy photographing it. I’ve got a thinly veiled food pregnancy to show for mine. Let’s brunch in person so I can see how strong your foodie game is.
Discovering new neighborhoods: right.
“My friends moved away, and I need new ones”: right.
Similar career paths and interests like writing, photography, volunteering, mental health: right.
I also told myself to be open-minded.
Just because other people enjoy wine tastings doesn’t mean we couldn’t have fun and still click, especially since I have friends who drink (although, none of them, I realized, are holding up a drink with the pride of a well-earned trophy or a newborn baby in their main Facebook pic). Just because I didn’t like hiking didn’t mean I couldn’t swipe right on someone who does — I couldn't be forced to walk through the woods against my will, after all.
Within the first 24 hours, I had steady conversations going with five ladies, and it was like we’d known each other for a while! It was natural, it was fun, we found commonalities and plenty of things to ask one another. We became Facebook friends.
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Then, the next day, the really shocking thing happened: one of them texted me first.
I went on to meet my first IRL match two days later.
We had brunch, I showed her around the nabe, and we talked about our 48 hours worth of experience with the app, including the strangely disproportionate amount of people signed up who were speech pathologists.
Another 24 hours later, I had about 10 Bumble convos going.
Within a week, I’d met yet another person in IRL.
And then, ironically enough, I swiped right on a friend of mine who also was testing the app out specifically to write a story, and had yet to lock down any real-life meetups.
What can I say? Maybe it’s a gift.
The most interesting parts of the experience, though, were the incredible, undeniable misses. Here’s my advice:
- You probably want to include a short bio and more than one grainy looking picture. How could you not? Unless you're a catfisher or your friend signed you up by accident, and you couldn't figure out how to undo it, please let us know who you are. The world is not a perfect utopia, and I can’t possibly know whether I like you by that shot of half of you standing near some lake. No bio, no swiping left.
- If all of your photos seem like they’re something you’d send to your boyfriend or hook-up at 2 am, I’m going to assume you hit the “looking for a BFF” button by accident. If you’re gonna tweak your settings, you might want to tweak your pics.
- Ditto if all you have are selfies or, for some reason, a close-up photo of a very un-Insta-worthy waffle.
- Everyone drinks. Everyone is apparently a wine lover. Please be more original. I don’t tell you I find water when I’m thirsty refreshing. Stop.
- Know that many people will start conversations with you and may not follow through. Don’t take it personally. We live in an era where those who wish to flake may do so freely and nearly without consequences.
All in all, I think this is a genius idea….
...though you’ll need a thick skin. People will ghost on you. You may even meet and feel chemistry in person and then get ghosted. Or, it just won’t take.
The positive side of that: if someone starts to get a little weird, or god forbid thinks you’re weird, you probably won’t see them. Like, ever. You don’t work with them; they don’t live in your building or roll with your friend group.
There’s no perfect time or place to end this article — I can’t tell you how many of these convos will turn into actual, decades-long friendships with women who I will grow old with. I can’t tell you how many more matches per day I’m going to average or how long I’ll keep using this app.
What I can say is this: I went into it feeling that choosing from a menu of people is kind of a weird concept, as I’ve always hypothesized that dating is.
But the more you swipe, the more natural it feels.
Perhaps the coolest thing is, everyone on here who engages you in conversation is looking for a friend, and that’s something that’s not always easy to find and lock down in real life.
Make sure you’re ready to commit to the follow-up.
Keep that balance of asking people about their day and not just talking about yourself strong.
And, give people a chance even if they feel that one of their photos should be of them at Harry Potter Land pushing a cart on platform nine ¾, of which there were also just one too many.