Bumble BFF: Expat Adventures in Friend Dating

One of the biggest struggles of expat life, other than language barriers and cultural mishaps, is finding and maintaining friendships. Not every expat enters a country at the same, but most importantly, not every expat leaves at the same time. At any moment one of your closest friends can up and leave and you’re left with some major free time on your hands. Sure, the usual rules about making new friends can also apply as an expat: socialise with your colleagues, join a class, stalk out mutual friends. But with the need to seek out new friendships multiple times a year (particularly in the dreaded summer months), these leads can dry out pretty quickly. Enter Bumble BFF, a new app that is here to change the way we platonically meet other people.

The idea of choosing friends solely online might seem weird to some people, but most of the friends I made in my formative teenagers years came from the Internet, and I met my boyfriend of two years on Tinder. So an app where you essentially judge people on pictures and a short bio didn’t put me off too much. When I heard about Bumble, I knew I needed to try it. If I can handle Tinder in Spain, I can handle anything.

I’ve been using Bumble BFF for about two months now and I feel I’ve got a good idea of what it’s all about. Most importantly, how weird it is to market yourself for friends. I know you can say that your profile is just a natural reflection of you, but that is still marketing yourself. If all of someone’s pictures were taken in clubs, I know we probably wouldn’t get along. So no swipes for them. Not in a judging way, just that I know I’d probably never hang out with them if their weekends are spent in six storey nightclubs and mine are spent in bougie dive bars. So it’s a good way to weed out the people you probably couldn’t form a friendship with.

Over my time on Bumble, I had some good conversations. Some progressed onto WhatsApp and some progressed even further onto actual Platonic Friend Dates. I’ve been on three now and finally think I’ve figured out the best way to navigate the app, because each Friend Date has gone better than the last. I’ve bumped up the age category and said bye to the young’uns (whilst simultaneously accepting that oh god I might be in my mid twenties?) and I know when to tell if the conversation is just normal dull-but-polite pleasantries or a dead end.

Overall, I’m a big fan of Bumble BFF and cutting out the middle man when it comes to making new friends. Using the app pretty much screams ‘HELLO I’M HERE TO HANG OUT WITH NEW PEOPLE’ and I love how unashamed that is. Especially for expats, ’cause we need all the help we can get. Even if, like Tinder dates, some of your Friend Dates don’t go anywhere, you still get a nice time out of it. So far I’ve had ice lollies, after work drinks, and mojito bar hopping; when otherwise I’d be at home watching Degrassi on Netflix. Both are fun, but one is slightly more beneficial to my inner happiness. And it’s not the Canadian high schoolers.

But let’s be real, as someone in a long term relationship, I really just miss swiping people’s faces.

Pros of Bumble BFF:

  • Everyone is there for the same reason
  • Super convenient and not time consuming
  • You can scope people out before you meet (you’re given enough information to sufficiently Facebook stalk)
  • Swiping is fuuuuuuun

Cons of Bumble BFF:

  • You’re putting yourself out there to be judged
  • Not a lot of people are using the app yet (at least in Madrid)
  • There’s still a chance you can be murdered

Verdict: It’s great for expats and people moving cities, but also an easy and fun way for anyone to meet new people. I’m really looking forward to how this concept develops in the future. The Internet has already changed so much about our lives, it’s only time before it starts to influence our friendships too. Yaaaaay Platonic Dating!

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Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

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