How to Make New Friends in a New City with a Dating App

I've never been very good at making friends. I can still count on two hands the solid friendships I've built and maintained since childhood, and I'm grateful for those people staying close even when we're geographically very far away. When I moved to New York City I didn't blossom into some magical friend-making social butterfly overnight. In fact, it got even more challenging to meet people even though I was surrounded by millions everyday. NYC may be busy, but it's isolating. 

When I complained to my best friend Grace about wanting a life outside of my apartment, she persuaded me to download Bumble. Yeah, Bumble the dating app! She swore by Bumble's BFF feature when she moved out of state and didn't know anyone. She swiped left and right on potential matches, went on a few friendly first "dates", and found herself a friend she could hang with in her new city. 

It took me a full three months to finally download BumbleBFF. Despite my best friend's success story I really didn't believe that I could make friends on a damn DATING app. Who could be that desperate, right? And isn't it kind of creepy? (Sorry Grace.)


Turns out, it's not desperation or creepiness that brings hundreds of totally cool, very normal, likeminded women to the app. When I tapped the yellow beehive icon and setup my BumbleBFF profile for the first time, I was super surprised to see how many potential friends joined the app because they, too, were new to the city and just needed a way to meet new people.

I've never used a dating app before but I was vaguely familiar with the swipe right and swipe left protocol. To be honest, I was a little nervous that I wouldn't get any matches. I wrote and rewrote my bio several times, trying to sound equal parts interesting, funny, and cool. I picked my best photos and made sure to include a shot of my dogs, because they're way better at making friends than me. 

I matched my first few BumbleBFFs in less than 24 hours. I made the first move, sending out messages to my matches, and hoping they weren't too awkward to receive a response. Conversations started flowing, we exchanged numbers, and made fun happy hour plans to meet in real life. 

Last night I met my BumbleBFF matches Elizabeth and Alana at Grand Banks, a schooner-turned-floating restaurant and bar for a few glasses of rosé in 85 degree heat. We all matched each other around the same time (we joked we all have a type) and when we finally met in person, I felt like I'd known them for years. The conversation was easy, they're hilarious and interesting, and I'm super excited to hang with them again. I never would've crossed paths with these women if I hadn't caved and downloaded Bumble during one very boozy brunch. 


Listen, everyone I've encountered on BumbleBFF is very aware that meeting on a dating app sounds kind of odd and they've all got a great sense of humor about it. But when I really thought about it, it's not all that strange. BumbleBFF, or any friend finding app, is just a new way to connect with people who actually want to make new connections! You're talking to a girl who made most of her friends on Hanson's internet fan club in 2004. Using a dating app to make friends is actually more in my wheelhouse than I initially thought.

I'd swipe right on this view from the deck of Grand Banks.

I'd swipe right on this view from the deck of Grand Banks.

Sure, I go to the gym, I've got a few coworkers, and I have friends in the city who could introduce me to their friends, but how many of those people are looking to casually make new friends as they go about their day? We're all tapped for time and energy, and making new friends is a lot of work. At least on BumbleBFF we're all on the same page -- We're new and we need friends. Who cares if we're introduced by an app traditionally used to meet dates?

Want to make new friends? I definitely recommend you download BumbleBFF. But there are a few things you should know before you start swiping right.

Your BFF profile photo is the same as your dating profile.

If you're using Bumble for it's more traditional function (I'll call it the romance function) then it's easy to switch over to BumbleBFF with the dropdown list at the top of the app screen. Just be aware, your sexy profile photo transfers over to the BFF side and sometimes that can be a little odd and intimidating for someone looking to make new friends. Consider posting a more neutral profile photo for that first impression picture. 

Some people are still trying to get dates.

If there's an app, there's bound to be some abuse of the app. I hate casting judgment on anyone but it's pretty clear based on photos and bios who is there to make friends and who is there for a date. Or to eat you for dinner.

If you meet up, meet up in daylight. 

Listen, it's 2018. Stranger sh*t has happened than meeting up with a person from the internet and it turns out they're not who they claimed to be. Don't be a dummy about it. I was 100% confident my new friends were exactly who they claimed to be, not even the true crime fan in me was nervous to meet them. But still, if you're wary, make it a group event and invite more than one of your matches to meet and pick a daylight happy hour, just to be sure.

Cheers to stepping outside the comfortable walls of our tiny NYC apartments and making new friends on the internet. Happy swiping, friends.