Love + Sex, Tech, Love, Life Stories

I tried feminist dating app Bumble to see what all the fuss was about and it was pretty depressing

I am a woman with very high standards and somewhat unrealistic expectations.

I am a woman with very high standards and somewhat unrealistic expectations. I am also a woman looking for long-term connection rather than casual encounters. Despite knowing all of this about myself, when I moved to a new city and began exploring my surroundings I decided to take the leap and download Bumble to see if it could be as successful for me as it had been for others. If you’re an easy-going low maintenance or easy to please person, you may not agree with much I write in this article, but hey, it’s my experience. 

The first step was creating my Bumble account. For me, each picture was curated with specific meaning and purpose. A picture to show that I have friends and know how to have a good time, an outdoor photo complete with chacos and shrubbery, and several recent selfies that accurately depict my physical attributes.

My first idea for a bio was a simple and cute, “just looking for the Ben Wyatt to my Leslie Knope,” but it was quickly shot down by a friend as too cliche. I don’t consider myself a particularly humorous person, so I took the criticism of my cute joke and moved on, opting for something more descriptive: “I like many things, but mostly books, braids, red wine, and Game of Thrones. New to the city.” Then I started swiping.

This is where my high standards and unrealistic expectations really started to show. I felt as if I was only swiping right one in ten times, and I was swiping left a lot for reasons such as not enough photos, no bio, ROTC/military, avid hunter/fisherman, no beard, stupid joke in bio, hates cats, and various other checked and unchecked boxes.

Weird bios such as, “looking for a girl to treat me like shit,” and, “I’m a potato how bout you?” often got a laugh but resulted in a swift swipe left. Even those bios that were a perfect blend of descriptive and witty felt disingenuous, as I have learned time and again that people are capable of all kinds of things online that they would never say act upon in person.

I’m a big fan of the-girl-messages-first model, so I generally went out of my way to connect with a match once I had made one. Even through the opaqueness of the internet, sometimes a good conversation is all that’s needed to make a connection. Of the several dozen matches I made, about half stopped replying after, “what’s up?”, one quarter expired because they did not respond, and one quarter expired because I never began the conversation. I could count on one hand the number of men I exchanged more than a greeting with.

Even then, there was only one man on Bumble who piqued my interest enough to persuade me to meet in person.

I went on a total of two dates with this guy. Both were movie dates, only one of which was my idea. He was very kind, slightly awkward, and we had many things in common, right down to our favorite Russian Literature translations. I began to nitpick his behavior – how he had dressed, his chosen topics of conversation, and even his unfamiliar, big city accent – on the second date and it was then that I realized that it wouldn’t work out.

Though I blame this failure not on my own high expectations, but on Bumble itself. I’ve learned now that there are other online dating platforms that go much more into detail when making profiles and work harder to match you with like-minded people, though I still don’t think it would do much for me. Call me unrealistic, a hopeless romantic, old fashioned, or whatever you will, but I think that for me it comes down to one thing: desire.

Desire and curiosity upon first meeting someone are what lead to a spark that creates chemistry between two people, a longing to know more about one another. A sharp intake of breath when you see that person walking toward you, a quick blush the first time you introduce yourself to that person, the nervous and jittery conversation that flows out of you when first getting to know each other; that, to me, is what dating and finding your person is all about.

When you meet someone in person, there are higher chances of getting a truthful and transparent read on that person – at least on that person’s personality and its compatibility with your own. And your first interaction can be a conversation, not reading in a short bio. Online dating, for me, didn’t allow for these fires to burn, as there is often no mystery, no curiosity, no giddiness when you meet a person for the first time like there is in more organic introductions.

Even the most charismatic and charming man could seem boring to me based on his profile, and it likely wouldn’t be his fault. I would much rather walk in to a date wondering what their favorite color is rather than considering the likelihood of our compatibility.  

The bottom line, for me, is I need to get out more so I’m not relying on online platforms like Bumble to make my connections for me.