#bumble | #tinder | #pof The highs and lows of Bumble BFF-ing in a pandemic

There were a lot of things no one told me about adulthood when I graduated from college. I didn’t know much about insurance or 401Ks or how to properly clean my stovetop.

I figured all that out, but one unexpected challenge still vexes me: How to actually make friends as an adult.

I managed pretty well right after graduation and made a close group of friends. But then a global pandemic hit, I started a new job, and I moved to a new city.

Therefore, I’ve been spending a lot of Friday nights alone lately — not that that’s unusual right now. 
 
But as a non-coronavirus future looms (hopefully), I’m starting to get worried weekends with my dogs aren’t exclusive to pandemic life. With months of being stuck at home without friendships already established, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage when the time comes to get back out there and have a social life.


I’m luckier than some. I have family in the area, an old friend from high school nearby (who is sadly moving before the pandemic’s likely to end) and I’ve made a distanced dog park friend. And I have my boyfriend, though he often works nights and weekends. But I’m still hoping for some close friends like I had back in Austin.

And where do lonely, bored people meet other lonely, bored people nowadays?

On the internet, of course.

I turned to my phone and signed up for Bumble BFF, the platonic equivalent of the dating app. Online relating isn’t all new to me. I met my boyfriend on a dating app not long after graduating from college, so digital connections have worked well for me thus far. Plus, it gave me some prior knowledge of how to create a “winning” profile. And I know a couple of people who have had great success with such friendly endeavors before.
 
I added blurbs about my favorite movies (“Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Legally Blonde”), answered a few superficial questions (Yes, I’m a night owl, if you must know) and linked my Spotify account (I’m hoping the Bumble higher-ups send me a friend with similar taste). I swiped around a bit, feeling a little silly and desperate to have gotten to this point.

Quickly enough, someone else’s profile admitted what I’ve felt for months: “No one told me how hard it was to make friends as an adult.”

In normal times, I might have been even more embarrassed to sign up for an app to make friends. At first, it feels like admitting I didn’t know how to socialize in real life, with real people. But the pandemic and resulting universal loneliness has formed a fragile bridge between us while isolated. Even with the inherent chill that comes with only communicating through screens, there’s a strange warmth in knowing everyone else is in a similar place.

It’s not just me—it’s hard to meet people, especially right now. There’s nothing desperate about admitting that.

The best part of turning to a relational middleman during a global experience like a pandemic is realizing how many others have the same goal of connection. I don’t know when it became so nerve-wracking to befriend someone without months of slow-burn conversations at an office or dog park, but it may be the worst thing about my 20s.

Instead, much like a dating app, we’ll get to skip the awkwardness and insecurity that comes with asking a potential friend to get a coffee or a beer, because that’s exactly what we’re all hoping to accomplish — when we can actually meet up, that is.

The pandemic is still at least a few months away from its end, and I’m not quite sure how my Bumble BFF experiment is going to go.

I’m now a few days into my foray into digital friendship, and it’s going mostly as expected. I’ve been messaging with a few women around my age, exchanging the usual pleasantries about how long we’ve been in Houston and how we like it and what we do. And sometimes it has felt a little stiff — but I’m hopeful.

It’s only been a few days, and I’ve got plenty of time to get to know people, even if it is over the internet.


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