When I first downloaded Bumble in January this year, I wasn’t even looking to date. In fact, I was stuck in a hotel room, serving my mandated 14-day quarantine after returning to Singapore from overseas. My solitary confinement is simply a microcosm of how we have all been stuck largely indoors and denied regular human interaction during these socially distanced times. However, it did give me the perfect incentive to start looking for meaningful connections online.
Prior to downloading Bumble, I have had little experience with meeting people virtually. I was initially rather reticent about dating apps because the whole idea of relying on algorithms for human relationships just seemed so clinical to me. However, Bumble’s interface immediately put me at ease. Its cheerful yellow palette injected a dosage of much-needed warmth into this uncharted and what is, frankly, rather intimidating territory for me.
“Combining the best of the digital and real world, Bumble gave me the heady rush of excitement I’ve been craving for the past two years since the pandemic began”
And I say intimidating because Bumble’s requirement that women make the first move subverts dating conventions. As an introvert, I used to rely on the antiquated notion that the guy must take the lead as a safety net, even if that means I might miss out on meeting some great people due to my lack of initiative. However, Bumble’s moda operandi helped me overcome my worries that two years of social distancing might have eroded my social skills, step out of my comfort zone, and put myself out there.
My male friends tell me not having to drive the conversation for once is a welcome change for them. But I have come to realise that being in the driver’s seat also makes me much more cognisant of what I want. Now that I’m no longer merely a passive recipient of pick-up lines but must actively reach out to people, I am more comfortable with establishing my boundaries, and also more thoughtful about what I am looking for in a partner. I find myself scrutinising men’s profiles—particularly their About Me write-up and prompt answers—much more carefully than I have done in the past on other apps.
Bumble encourages users to take the plunge immediately instead of hemming and hawing for days or weeks. After all, what’s dating without a bit of spontaneity? It is the ambiguity of the situation—the potential within—that makes romance truly magical. On Bumble, the match disappears if the woman doesn’t initiate contact within 24 hours, and it also expires if the other party doesn’t respond within the following day. Of course, the app understands life can get busy. Therefore, users who subscribe to Bumble Boost or Bumble Premium can choose to extend a match by 24 hours or re-match with someone if the match expires before you two can strike up a conversation.
That said, it does take me some time to get warmed up after matching with a guy, which is where Bumble’s in-app icebreakers come in extremely handy. My favourite feature for kick starting conversations is the Question Game, where my match and I take turns to answer the same prompts, like “What is one misconception others have about you?” or “When do you feel at your sexiest?”
One of my best dates came within a mere 20 minutes of me matching with a guy. We both responded to the prompt “When did you last stay up all night and why?”, which sparked off a conversation about a night dive he once did. This then led to us spontaneously driving to the beach at 11pm, where we chatted about anything and everything while bundled up in blankets. Time just flew by, and our seven-hour-long date concluded on a perfect note with the most magnificent sunrise.
Combining the best of the digital and real world, Bumble gave me the heady rush of excitement I’ve been craving for the past two years since the pandemic began. It is an intoxicating flutter of butterflies which can come only from taking a step into the unknown, hoping that it might just be the beginning of something real, something much more. And beyond finding love online, I also see Bumble as a safe space for brushing up my rusty conversational skills and dipping my toes back into the social scene, as the world gradually comes to terms with a new post-pandemic reality.