Are any of you guys lucky enough to have a #girlgang? A crew of friends who can get that frantic, last minute, “I’m running late!!” text and grab your kids at school pick-up? The ones who know where your dishwashing detergent is because they’ve actually loaded your dishwasher and run it? The ones who can tell at fifty paces away that it’s been a long week and you need a drink? The ones who love your kids even when they are being little shits and seamlessly insert themselves into the parent role when you just. can’t. right. now? The ones who will let you vent about your husband, still knowing he’s the only guy for you? The ones who can instinctively see through your bullshit? And love you anyway? The ones who will fly cross-country to cheer you up for the 3rd chemo treatment because it’s the second to last and somehow emotionally the hardest? The ones who are willing to pick you back up both figuratively and literally because somehow, over time, your heartbeats have synchronized (as well as your periods, haha), and you have come to realize that burdens shared are burdens lightened, yet joy shared is exponential joy, it’s joy to the power of eleven – at least.
Those girls. I find that the older I get, the more I realize that those girls, my #girlgang girls, they aren’t just important….they’re necessary. They make everything in my life better. They make me a better parent, a better wife, and they give me the space (and support) to be exactly who I am.
So when the seriously awesome (and seriously badass) girls at Bumble reached out, asking if I’d host an event honoring Girl Gangs, I didn’t even hesitate. The whole Bumble crew is pro-women, pro-kindness, and this is obviously a topic I feel very passionate about. The catch? I had to use Bumble (yes, the dating app) to find a few new friends to add to my crew.
If you aren’t familiar with Bumble, it’s a dating app where women make the first move. When you log into Bumble, you simply choose who you are interested in: men, women, men and women or….BFF. If you choose BFF, it means that you aren’t looking for a date, you are looking for friends. You’re looking to build a Girl Gang. As someone who left a very tight-knit Girl Gang behind when we moved from Denver to Philly…I sure as heck wish BumbleBFF was around six years ago to make that transition easier.
My party planning skills consist mainly of A BIG IDEA with little-to-no follow through (ugh little details – they drive me nuts), so Gwen – my assistant, good friend, and definitely part of my Girl Gang – and I both decided that the chef’s table at Morgan’s Pier would be the perfect place to host our Girl Gang event. Not only is it in a beautiful location, but the decisions are kept to a minimum, so the food (and conversation) takes center stage. Philly locals – if you haven’t yet tried the chef’s table….it’s one heck of a special night. We highly recommend it!
Anyway. Table booked, Morgan’s Pier is on board, my existing Girl Gang invited, and now, the only thing I need to do is enter the scary world of…dating apps. [shudder]
Swipe Left? No! Right!
So. I downloaded Bumble. As it turns out, the defaults for the app are, in fact, dating men. So imagine my surprise when I first log in and am presented with photos of guys. Immediately I am flustered and sweating. I swipe frantically – right? left? I am unclear. I text Gwen and keep an eye out for my husband. Obviously, this is CHEATING, I am a CHEATER. (Bear in mind that Mike and I just celebrated our….wait for it….EIGHTEEN year wedding anniversary. I haven’t dated anyone since the 90’s. I mean dear GOD.)
Gwen clears up the swiping debacle in two hot seconds. Swipe left = no. Swipe right = yes. I am left-handed so this feels backwards but OK. I can do this.
I discover the magic checkbox that changes my status from ‘men’ to ‘BFF’ and breathe a sigh of relief. A list of women. Looking for friends. Now we’re talking.
I stare at the first photo. I have no idea what to do with her. There’s nothing about the photo that makes me think we’ll have anything in common….but then I immediately feel like a terrible person. What if this women is curing cancer or has a dry sense of humor or a passion for mathematics?? I look for the “ask me again later” button. It doesn’t exist. I call Gwen. “You are over-thinking” she says, calmly. “Just go with your gut. If you think you’d actually like to take time out of your busy day and meet her for coffee, swipe right. Otherwise, swipe left.”
This turns out to be good advice. I decide to swipe left, only to be presented with another photo. Again, I have no idea.
Upon further investigation, I realize that there are multiple photos (swipe up, yo), the last one containing their bio. “Children’s librarian, prone to sarcasm while not at work” got a swipe right from me. As did “avid reader of sci-fi, lover of political debates”. I started swiping left automatically on anyone with an empty bio.
The BFF Search: Round 1
After a few swipes, I was done. “Looks like you’re out of people….” the app tells me. Gwen tells me to check back later. Apparently, everyone I swiped right on will be presented with my profile the next time they log in, and if they also swipe right on me….then they’ll be added to my match queue, where I can start a chat.
I take the time to make sure my profile is completely filled out. I add photos, and update my bio to include a bit about myself, but also about the event I’m hosting with BumbleBFF. In the interest of friendship, I decide to be open and honest about why I’m on the app.
“Hey there! I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of The Mom Edit, and we’re doing a special event in Philadelphia (at Morgan’s Pier, holla) with BumbleBFF on July 13th. I’m putting together a group of smart, fun, badass women. Want to join the fun?? Let’s connect! xo, S”
24 hours later….still nothing. But now I have a few more people to swipe. Upon reading their bios, I realize that none of these women live in Philadelphia. What the heck? And then I realize: I’ve been BumbleBFFing from the shore. One of the ways Bumble makes sure that you are who you say you are is via the GPS locator on your phone. Ohhhhhh. This explains a lot.
Back in Philly, The BFF Search: Round 2
Once we got back from the shore, I started the hunt for BFFs with renewed vigor. And in Philly, there are more women from which to choose. I get into a groove, swiping left, right, right, left. I got this. I am the queen of BumbleBFF. I sit back, waiting for my new friends to come ‘a callin.
But it turns out that waiting is boring, so I start working, forget about the app for two days, then log back in.
“You’ve missed some connections!” the app helpfully tells me. WHAT? I show Gwen. “My connections expire after 24 hours??? I have to check EVERY DAY? Who has time for this???” I demand. “Well…..” Gwen begins, tactfully. “Milennials, I think. It’s pretty easy, Shana – we just, you know….we just keep checking back.”
Then I discover Bumble Boost, a paid subscription for premium service. Bumble Boost allows me to re-match with people I’ve missed (like the two connections that expired), and, best of all, it shows me a short list of people who have already swiped right on my profile. This is good stuff. I can then swipe right on these people, be matched immediately, and start chatting.
So I upgrade. I then see three people in my “matched section”. One never responds (even though I “extended” our chat, in desperation, several times), one responds initially, but can’t make it to the event, and one – a photographer, new to Philly – says she’ll be there!
What I Learned (BumbleBFF Tips)
With the event looming in a matter of days, I reach out to my readers. I mean…thank goodness for you guys. I know it’s somewhat of a tough sell (download this app, try to find me, swipe right once you do….) but Elizabeth, a Philly local, actually does. And because we really do read all comments, Gwen and I recognized her right away. “OMG YAY IT’S ELIZABETH!!!” was the start of our actual conversation. And meeting Beth in person was easily my favorite part of the whole event.
But here’s what I learned through this whole crazy process. Keep in mind that both Gwen (age 25) and myself (age 41) created accounts on BumbleBFF for this event. We also roped in readers Elizabeth and Shannon (who sadly, couldn’t come to the event), but it was interesting to see, ultimately, how easy it was to find each other.
- Give yourself time to get good at the swipe. The app only feels overwhelming to use if you’ve never used a swipe left/right app before. And you do adjust pretty quickly.
- Don’t overthink, go with your gut – Gwen’s advice turned out to be spot-on. While I have trouble, in general, with the quick judgements required of swiping left/right, I’ll acknowledge that it is efficient, and the more I used this app, the more I was able to get a sense of who I wanted to hang out with. And when in doubt, I swiped right.
- Fill our your profile completely and specifically. Pictures are great, but I found myself swiping right on women who had interesting bios. They were either funny, interesting, or mentioned liking the same books/activities I did. I also found it helpful when people described exactly who they were looking for. Many women who sounded great also had a bio that stated, “All of my friends have kids and I’m looking for friends who don’t….” which saved us both some wasted time.
- Need friends now? Use Bumble Boost. If you have recently changed cities, had a baby, gotten a divorce, and are dying for friends (I know I was when we first moved), there’s no doubt that Bumble Boost is worth the cost. I’d probably commit to a couple of months of dedicated BumbleBFFing with boost. And again, spell out exactly who you are looking for, what you are hoping to do in your profile.
- Empty Match Queue? Try this: There are a couple of reasons I kept running into this message. One, because I had the distance set too low (keep in mind that it’s based on the GPS locator on your phone, so if you go to the shore for the weekend, the match queue will change). Upping the distance radius helps. The other reason (and I’m just guessing here) is that most people set their default age range to under 40….and I’m 41. I noticed that a few other profiles on Bumble listed their age as, say, 27, and then in their bio stated something like, “I’m looking for friends to have brunch with…oh and I’m 38, not 27.” Age is just a state-of-mind, and I thought this was a genius way to nudge past someone else’s unintentional bias.
Would I Recommend BumbleBFF?
Hells yeah. Despite my missteps, my false starts, and my misgivings….I remember how flipping lonely I was when we first moved to Philly. And how long – years – it took us to make friends. And how I would’ve killed for a girl’s night in those early days. And while I did struggle to find friends on BumbleBFF during this little experiment…finding friends in general is hard!! And most of the issues I had can be chalked up to being an early adopter of the technology. Swiping left/right isn’t new, but using a dating app to find a BFF sure is. We just need more women (and more women over 40, haha) using BumbleBFF to find friends. Which will come….eventually. And BumbleBFF feels a lot more proactive than my original attempt to find friends in Philly: staring longingly from across the playground at women laughing together.
I mean….nothing beats having the balls to walk up to someone and say, “you look cool – let’s be friends!” But if you’re not quite there….BumbleBFF is worth a shot.
Our Event With BumbleBFF
Of the three women I met through BumbleBFF, Beth was the only one who showed. But she joined a seriously fun group – we all had a blast. Despite the rain (spoiler: it poured), the night flowed with drinks and conversation, the food was delicious, and love and laughter were everywhere.
To my Girls: Thanks for putting up with me and my ridiculous job that hauls everyone out to Morgan’s Pier, in the rain, to have pictures taken for the internet. I mean…that is love, right there. Beth, you are a total rockstar. It was so fun hanging out – everyone is clamoring for you to come back. And Marisa, thank you for being in the Girl Gang, and also for taking the gorgeous pictures. I’m only annoyed that I didn’t turn the camera around on you! Next time.
A huge thank you to Bumble for sponsoring this post! I love your badass, pro-feminist vibe, I
love how you embrace individuality, and I love how you support women supporting women. I
couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with you. I have super high hopes for BumbleBFF, and I feel
so honored to be part of the journey. xoxo
photo credit: the wildly talented Marisa of Redfield Photography