Women fly first on Bumble: How app’s features offer potential change to dating game

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Arts and Culture editor Robby Poffenberger and I recently looked at the dating apps Tinder and Mutual. Though these studies were not scientifically rigorous, we did find some interesting trends. This week, we looked into Bumble. This app has a distinct difference—women message first.

Alec Osborne, a Bumble user in the area, explained why he likes women messaging first.

“I love the idea of it as I’m someone that prefers to be hit on first,” Osborne said. “I’m bad at it and often too shy … I also appreciate it instead of sending a lot of messages and never getting a response back, so I’m not wasting all my good charm and wit into someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Emily Shaw, a junior English major, pointed out that this feature is only available for “opposite-sex matches.” For men seeking men and women seeking women, anyone can message first. Across all gender matches, the messages will go away if no one messages back in the first 24 hours.

“[This feature] makes it a lot easier to avoid the disgusting and unwanted messages you would get on apps like Tinder,” Shaw said.

This is certainly the kind of message Bumble pushes in their own marketing.

“There’s no equality without respect,” the Bumble website explains. “…that’s where all healthy relationships start. To challenge outdated heterosexual norms, women make the first move on Bumble.”

Whether or not Bumble succeeds in this endeavor is up for debate. A potential mark of the respect the app purports having is fewer provocative photos in bios. From our (admittedly unscientific) survey of Bumble profiles, there is a much lower percentage of people with provocative photos—6 percent compared to Tinder’s 21 percent.  

Bumble also has several more features other dating apps do not, including account verification to prevent spam accounts. Additionally, you can add “My Move Makers” to your profile, questions you can ask yourself and answer as part of your bio. Among these prompts are “Netflix or Nightclub,” “I quote too much from…” and “If I could have a superpower it’d be…”

Certain icons or tags can also be added to a bio with modifiable elements. For instance, you could add a wine glass icon to your profile and then add “never,” “sometimes” or “frequently” to show if you drink alcohol or not, and how much.

These tags may account for higher numbers in some of our categories. Over 80 percent of people listed their height (12 percent on Tinder, required on Mutual) and more than 60 percent accounted for whether they worked out (5 percent on Tinder, 11 percent on Mutual).

Even with these additional features, some remain unimpressed. Branden Van Wagenen, a junior Computer Science major, explained that these apps take a lot of battery life, so he wanted to keep as few on his phone as possible.

“I don’t think it offered anything noticeably different from Tinder for me, so I stuck to the more populated app,” Van Wagenen said.

Though we do not have any data on how many people in Utah Valley are using which of these apps, it seems like there are a lot of people out there waiting to match with you. Dating is complicated, scary and messy. While it doesn’t seem like the apps are changing that significantly, hopefully, you can find an app that fits your comfort level and maybe find some love as well. 

Arts & Culture Editor Robby Poffenberger contributed to this article.