Single Dad’s Guide to the Bumble Dating App

It was inevitable. Eventually, the (newly) single dude wants to stretch his sea legs on the open waters of dating. And what better way to make that happen than from the comfort of my own phone.

Along with several other apps, Bumble represents the brave new world of online app dating. Used to be that this type of thing was frowned upon or relegated to the backwaters of the internet.

Not anymore. It’s widely accepted as a way to meet new people. It’s easy and free to use — which is both good and bad. Good in that it’s free, fast and easy and does away with the possible social anxiety of walking up to strangers. But because it’s free, fast and easy to use, there’s little in the way of commitment from people and the whole experience can become very…disposable.

I’ve read several articles on the interwebs regarding experiences on Bumble —but almost all from the woman’s perspective. With hindsight as my guide, I’m going to give you the mid-forties, single dad take. Having spent a few months dabbling on Bumble, I’m confident that I can share some advice for the newbs now on the sidelines.

Before taking the Bumble plunge, I tried out Tinder, because, well, when you’re looking for online dating, that’s where you go first naturally. It’s the most well-known, the most parodied, copied, etc. You go there first. Some stay. I didn’t.

Tinder has a greasy feeling to it. It’s difficult to explain unless you can experience it first-hand. You definitely want to shower after using Tinder.

Then I heard about Bumble through the grapevine and how it may be the “thinking” man’s version of Tinder — or something like that. Bumble does have a more upscale vibe about it and you get the impression that the people are actually real, and actually maybe looking for relationships.

If it’s quality you’re after, then Bumble is a rung up from Tinder, in my opinion. That’s not to say that people on Bumble are after something different than the ones on Tinder. In this guy’s opinion, the women are just more attractive on Bumble. I can only assume that it’s the same with the dudes, though I’ve never checked out the guys. (Not how I roll.)

The main gimmicky difference between Tinder and Bumble is that it’s only the women that can initiate a conversation once a match is made on Bumble. If they don’t “converse” within 24 hours the match disappears forever…or until/unless they’re shown to you again at some point and you can try for a round two. (It happens.)

Once you decide to take the plunge you’ll need to create an account.

Once you download the app and open ‘er up, you’ll promptly be freaked out by having to connect your Facebook account. After all, won’t Bumble then broadcast your new choice of apps to all your friends — and then all of Facebook? Turns out, no. Like with other apps this just replaces the need to create an actual username and password.

No doubt at some point Bumble will use this Facebook info to show which of your friends know potential matches (like Tinder) but for now it’s just a way to login.

If you don’t want to go the Facebook route, Bumble now gives you the option to create a login with an email address.

Next you’ll be prompted to accept notifications from Bumble. Up to you if you want to add Bumble notifications to the constant stream of stuff popping up on your phone. And you’ll want Bumble to be able to access your location as well. This is crucial and the app doesn’t work without it.

Bumble will then ask you if you want to go premium with Bumble Boost. Again, up to you but I recommend just sticking with the free version for now. I’ll cover Boost later on.

BEFORE you start swiping, click on the gear in the upper left hand corner. Then click on the Settings tab at the top and turn OFF the Public Profile for right now. You’ll want to get your profile right before your lame default one gets blasted out to the world.

Now for the settings…

First up is the distance slider. A word on distance: Unless you really live out in the boondocks, you’ll probably want to keep the distance to under, say, 15–20 miles. You’ll be tempted to slide that sucker all the way to 100 miles just in case the woman of your dreams is living like 99 miles away. You’ll be especially tempted to expand the target geography after swiping all the women within 20 miles or so.

While I’ve had matches well beyond the 20 mile radius, it generally doesn’t work. In fact, if you do match with someone that far you’ll probably never even meet them. Here’s the thing: you’re busy, no doubt. Maybe you have kids, a job, and lots of other stuff to do — you know, you have a life. It can be tough to carve out time to meet new people, let alone develop and maintain a budding relationship. The chances that you’ll be able to establish an actual relationship with someone beyond 20 or so miles is slim, when you consider travel time and all the other life obligations you have to attend to. Unless you really have the time to kill, keep it local.

Next up is the Age slider. What ages to search for? That’s really a personal preference, but here are my thoughts: Personally, I’ve felt most comfortable, and had the most initial success, meeting people within an age range of about 3 years younger to maybe 2 years older. You’ll find you have more in common (music, nostalgia, kids around the same age, etc.) with people closer in age to you.

If you’re in your mid-forties like me, you’ll be tempted to drag that slider all the way down to women in their twenties. Don’t bother. They don’t want you.

Next you want to tell Bumble who you want to be shown: Men? Women? Men & Women? Or if you’re just looking for friends (“BFF”) then by all means hit that one. (Though why you would be on Bumble looking for a BFF is beyond me.)

Decide if you want push notifications, app sounds, etc., then go to the Profile tab at the top to create your profile — and establish how the world will see you.

If you used Facebook to create your account, your default pictures will be from your Facebook account — which may not be what you want. In fact, it’s probably not what you want.

You’ll be shown this default version first, with the default pictures. To fix this and add info about yourself either click on your name at the bottom of the screen or on the little edit button at top left. Delete all the offending Facebook pictures and add the ones you want from your phone.

Include at least 2 pictures. You’re in this thing with both feet or not at all, my friend. The first one — the profile pic shown first when people see you — should be one of just your head from a couple of feet away, with you smiling and looking as natural as possible. Also include at least one full body (clothed, obviously) picture. Try and keep the group pictures out, otherwise you’ll leave your prospects guessing which one is you — and they’ll just move on. Seriously, it’s annoying trying to play Where’s Waldo on Bumble. Ditch the shirtless pics as well. Same with the bathroom selfies, blurry pics, “duck” lips photos, or pictures with a tiger (a running joke among the ladies on Bumble) or your rented Lamborghini. These do NOT play well. The more natural the better.

From personal experience, I can tell you that people swipe through profiles quickly. That’s why a good head shot as your first picture will give you the best chance of someone clicking through — if they can see you have enough potential to warrant exploring further.

Be sure to fill in the “About Me” section with as many interesting tidbits as possible. Random (and humorous) facts are great ice-breakers for starting conversations after the match. Keep it playful and humorous but don’t overdo it. For example, even though I’m no plumber, I once fixed a dishwasher that was malfunctioning. I put that in there and was amazed how often it was mentioned in messages — including once by a woman who actually had a broken dishwasher.

Everyone knows you like to laugh, enjoy wine, sunsets, etc. — leave that out, in favor of your more unique qualities. Whatever you do, definitely do not leave this area blank.

Also, don’t put anything as stupid as “not looking for a fling” or “no hookups.” No woman is going to believe that coming from a guy, and it’s just not true anyway.

If you travel often, it’s also a good idea to put your state in your profile so people know what they’re getting into geography-wise before swiping on you.

You now have the ability to connect your Spotify account and have it show your “top artists”. Few women actually do this from what I’ve seen, and it’s not a difference maker for the ones that do. Can’t speak for the guys, but I can’t see it being a difference maker for the ladies either.

You can also add your occupation and education, though if you used Facebook to connect these may be pre-filled.

When finished, click “Done” at the top right and you’re on your way. Go back to Settings and turn your public profile back on.

Now it’s time to get swiping. With your settings in place, the app will deliver the gals (dudes?) within the age range and geography specified. From here it’s easy: Get to swiping. Swipe left for “no thanks”, and swipe right to “like” and hope for a match.

Here’s what will happen next: hopefully a woman on the other end will find you just as attractive as you do her, she’ll swipe right on your pimped out profile, and it’ll create a joyous match. At that point she has 24 hours to send the first message and off you go. (Remember, only women can initiate the conversation.) If she hasn’t messaged within the first 24 hrs. you can “extend” the match for 24 hours (one per day) in the hopes that she comes to her senses and reaches out. However, in my experience, magic rarely happens in that second 24 hrs.

Unfortunately, and for reasons that I can’t explain, some women will match…and then never message. I’ve read differing opinions on why this happens with increasing frequency now: everything from the sheer volume of matches that women have to sift through (really?), to the very expendable nature of the app and the matches themselves.

As a dude there’s nothing you can do except watch your “perfect” match drift away into the ether forever at the end of 24 hrs. of waiting.

If you’ve hit if off with someone and the virtual “conversation” is going well, make a move for a face to face meeting sooner rather than later. It’s easy for even the best back-and-forth conversations to go flat quickly. Remember, she has other potential shiny new “matches” waiting for her and you want to be top of mind for as long as possible.

Don’t “collect” matches. In other words don’t keep matches that have gone nowhere. It’s OK to unmatch with people. Also, don’t be alarmed if people unmatch with you as well — without notice. Far better to unmatch and move on. You may also find yourself getting “ghosted” when she moves on or loses interest. In any case, don’t take it personally.

Think about it: there’s no real investment here, and nothing to lose. Because of this it’s easy for people to lose interest and move on to the next thing.

For these reasons it’s important to keep expectations very low. There’s a high likelihood you won’t find the woman of your dreams here.

If you do set up a face to face, congrats! I’ll assume you know what you’re doing from there and can handle a date with an actual woman.

I’ve personally met 6–7 women using Bumble. I dated one for about two months before it fizzled, so there is possibility there. It’s a numbers game: the more you match with, the more you can meet, the greater the likelihood of finding someone you genuinely connect with.

Another tip: if after a month or so you start to see the same faces over and over again, or if things have gotten a little stale in the match department, think about deleting your account. Start over in about a month. Bumble somehow prioritizes “new” accounts and you’ll get shown to more people — at least that’s my theory. In any case, you do get a boost if you start over after a couple of months.

Note: this does NOT just mean deleting the app off your phone — it means erasing your account with Bumble. To delete, go back to settings in the app and scroll down to the bottom for the delete button. Then take the app off your phone.

Bumble Boost: the paid version. At the time of this writing, for $9 per week ($25 for a month, and so on) you get the “upgraded” Bumble. And for that $9 you get to see who “liked” you before you match with them. Rather than a profile pic encircled in yellow, they’ll show up instead with a green outline. You can then just decide if you want to match with them.

Is it worth it? For the novelty of seeing who’s liked you, probably, at least for a week. If you do choose to go this route, use it right after you create your account when Bumble prioritizes new accounts. You’ll likely see the most potential matches, thereby getting the most bang for your buck.

In addition, Boost also let’s you extend as many matches as you want and “rematch” with expired matches. I hardly think these two additional benefits are worth the $9 by themselves. Like I mentioned above, extending a match rarely turns a lame match into a great one. Same for re-matching with someone who didn’t message the first time.

Important: Keep in mind that Boost is a “subscription” which means it will renew automatically after a week — assuming you’ve chosen the week long upgrade. Unless you want the app to keep billing you, cancel the subscription before it renews. To do this on the iPhone, go to settings, then click on your name at the top, then iTunes & App Store, then Apple ID at the top, enter your account password, then go to subscriptions to manage this.

Good Luck!