"Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with."
Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell was onto something. Good men are hard to find but it's even harder to find good female friends. As we move beyond college, away from hometowns and first jobs, meaningful friendships become far and few between. Sometimes it's more about #squadgoals than #relationshipgoals.
Bumble, the female-friendly app where women make the first move, recently launched its BFF feature where women can now swipe right to find besties.
The idea seems genius. Why can't a dating app be used for platonic relationships too? Well, no. I tried Bumble's BFF app and getting into the friend zone left me feeling totally creepy.
Here's how it works: Click on the Settings to search for friends. Since I'm lazy, I kept my search criteria to a few miles (which in New York City is a lot). I wanted peers, so I limited age criteria to a few years younger or older than me.
Results: The first thing I notice about the results is how many there are. Wow, there are a lot of women looking for friends. The women appear pretty cool. No overt trolls or serial killers. There's fashion designers, lawyers and artistic, freelance types that want a companion for shopping, cocktails or museum-hopping. Here's some press screenshots from PSFK.
How to swipe? The biggest challenge with Bumble BFF is figuring out who to swipe right on. I have a pretty good idea of my romantic type (tall, dark, emotionally unavailable) but friendship isn't so straightforward. Am I swiping based on: job, education, looks? Most of my real-life friends are creatives in the entertainment industry. So, that's my friend type? No, because I know a lot of terrible humans who also fall into that category. What my homies have in common is that they're cool, ambitious and appreciate my wonky sense of humor. How do I explain these nuances on this app? Bumble BFF is based on a photo and short bio—and some people don't even bother to write that. How can something as complex and awesome as female friendship be put into this box?! Can I see myself having cosmos with an architect? Ew. Or, nerding out over The Simpsons with a neurosurgeon? Maybe.
Creep factor: Here's where the creep factor comes in. The photos that show up on BFF are the same photos women are using for dating. Amelia the Financial Analyst seemed cool until I saw her sexy, pouty selfies. I'm sure a guy would love them but personally, I don't need to see my potential friends nude. Sorry, Amelia. It's fascinating to see what photos women use for dating (Lots of Kylie Jenner mouth and group shots) but it's hard not to roll my eyes and swipe left. Something about judging a friend based on looks—whether consciously or subconciously—feels superficial and very #meangirls.
Would you be bffs with Hailey or Kayla?
The guilt: You develop a tough skin dating online. I've never felt bad about swiping left on a guy—rejection is part of the game—but I had legit anxiety over doing the same thing on BFF. I don't even know these women but I just felt bad. You can tell a guy he's not your type but how do you tell a woman you've never met, that she's a terrible friend? I ended up swiping right on pretty much everyone out of guilt.
Overall: Back in the old days, MySpace, Yahoo chat rooms and Friendster were places to find likeminded people online. Then came Meet Ups and Facebook groups. A friendship app can work—and there's clearly a need for it—just not on a dating platform. The creepy, psychological stress is too much. I'm all for multitasking but true friendship is way more than skin deep.