Dating apps are having a moment.
I spent a week trying out a bunch of different dating apps to compare notes.
In case you haven’t read it in full, here’s the abbreviated version of my findings: Tinder is mindless, but fun. Hinge feels less sketchy because you get matched up with your Facebook friends’ friends. JSwipe is cool if you’re religious (I’m not). OkCupid proved itself to be nothing but a barrage of unwanted and often gross messages.
I was completely surprised by the app I liked the most.
Bumble is often described in the press as a “feminist” dating app. I’m not sure it’s feminist as much as it simply reverses gender roles and makes women make the first move. I was expecting to hate it (I am lazy, so the idea of an app with the premise of me having to send a ton of messages was unappealing), so I put it off and reviewed it last intentionally.
The most annoying part about dating apps is breaking the ice. I have a hundred matches sitting in my Tinder app who I haven’t talked to for this reason alone — nobody wants to make the first move, or have their opening line derided for being lame, or be ignored for being unimaginative.
Dating apps, for their part, have tried combating this in a number of ways. JSwipe puts a timer on how long you have to start talking to a match. Wait too long and your match disappears forever. Coffee Meets Bagel gives you and your match an opening question to break the ice. And so on.
From Tinder to Bumble
Bumble was co-founded by Whitney Wolfe, the ousted Tinder cofounder.
Before deciding to launch a dating app, Wolfe wanted to launch an Instagram competitor. Andrey Andreev, the cofounder of Badoo who would later help Wofe found Bumble, convinced her to think about the dating space again.
“I wanted to do something that would promote a responsible user online. There’s a lot of room to be negligent and nasty to each other,” Wolfe told Business Insider earlier this year. “I figured, whatever I do next I want to narrow that down. I wasn’t going to do it in the dating space at all.”
How it works
Bumble works like this: you download the app, set up your profile, and start swiping. If you mess up and accidentally swipe left when you mean to swipe right — swipe right meaning that you’re interested in someone — you can shake your phone to undo it. The user interface isn’t clunky, and it’s easy to use.
Both men and women swipe, but only women can start the conversation, and they only have 24 hours from the time they match to start chatting before the connection disappears forever.
For people seeking same-sex relationships, the app doesn’t exactly work the way it’s intended to; either party can send the first message.
One strange thing I noticed on Bumble is that I saw a lot of friends and coworkers on the app within the first few minutes of using it. I’m not sure why this happens, but it was almost a turnoff — it’s supposed to be a discovery service, so I don’t want to see people I already know. Two friends also told me this has happened to them.
The most annoying thing about Bumble is the notifications. The app lets you know when a match is about to expire, presumably so you can rush in and send that person a message before they slip through your fingers and disappear forever. You can turn off the notifications, though, as I discovered a couple days in.
Minutes into my Bumble experience, I quickly realised I’d have to start talking to the guys I matched with, otherwise things wouldn’t go anywhere. So despite being intimidated, I sent a few messages, and based on my experiences on Tinder — where I’d get messages from guys and rarely respond — I assumed the same thing would happen to me.
Wrong! Three responses in ten minutes. Of course, the more messages you send, the more you’ll receive, but nearly everyone I’ve sent a message to has responded quickly.
Turns out guys like Bumble because they like not having the pressure of initiating a conversation. And it makes conversations more thoughtful — starting every conversation with “Hey! How’s your weekend going?” gets stale after a while.
Anecdotal evidence isn’t always much to go off of. But two of my friends and I have gone on a collective 13 dates in the past month courtesy of Bumble, so something about the app seems to be working.