By Amanda Gabriel And Dan Teano
Elm Staff Writer and Lifestyle Editor
Over the past week, The Elm’s Social Media Editor, Brooke Harig participated in the mobile app Bumble. She then responded to the following questions regarding her experience.
AG: For someone who is unfamiliar with Bumble, can you explain the general concept and how it differs from other dating apps?
BH: “Bumble is a mobile dating app that lets you find single people in your area. You can tailor it to your personal preference by adjusting things like age, gender, and distance from where you are. It is very similar to the dating app Tinder, but differs in that only females can message any matches first. Once you have matched with someone, meaning you have both said yes (swiped right), then females have 24 hours to initiate a conversation or the match goes away.”
AG: Which did you enjoy the most about Bumble?
BH: “What I enjoyed most about Bumble was the profile viewing option. When you want to view someone’s pictures you can do so easily by swiping up. You don’t have to manual click on their profile like you do for other apps. This simple feature made Bumble very easy to use.”
AG: What did you enjoy the least/what would you change?
BH: “What I enjoyed the least was having to be the one who initiated the conversation, which is basically the aspect that separates Bumble from other dating apps. As someone who is not very forward this made starting conversations difficult.”
AG: Overall, how would you describe your experience with the app?
BH: “Overall Bumble was not my favorite dating app. I do not like that I am the only one who can start the conversation. Not only does that put a lot of pressure on me, but it also limits the number of people I talked too because I did not always start conversations with everyone.”
AG: Will you continue to use it?
BH: “I will not continue to use the app. I am not very big into dating apps anyway so if I did use one, it would be Tinder because I like it better.”
Harig’s answers led me to an interesting thought, why does an app need to be devoted to only having women initiate conversations? Social norms lead people to believe that men are supposed to begin conversations with women, and as a result, many women are too timid to ask a guy out or tell him he is handsome. Then, on the flip side, if a woman does start talking to a guy first, especially on multiple occasions, she is seen as pushy and needy; she is said to be coming on too strong. This double standard contributes to society’s expectations of men and women because if a man were to do the same thing, he is worshiped by the girl since this often signifies a strong interest on his part. I personally do not understand how today’s dating culture works. I despise the game that needs to be played before a couple can be exclusive. There is no set number of times a women or a man should initiate, yet I find myself questioning my actions if I ask a guy to hang out more than once in a row. If you want to be with someone, you should be able to speak your mind and be forward with that person, not hide behind cultural norms or be made to feel like you are committing a crime.
Perhaps the hardest part of online dating is making the first move. On dating apps like Tinder, swiping for a match is easy, and admittedly, entertaining. While you can swipe right or left all day, the true test of courage lies in initiating conversation. Though people typically compile a long list of matches, most of those potential partners are left in silence.
Similar to the real world, striking up a conversation online can be daunting. Since the best conversations are unforced and easy going, introducing a flirtatious element complicates the entire encounter. Culturally, there is an imbalance in how these conversations are supposed to begin. In our Western society, guys are raised to believe that they are solely responsible in making the first move. However, this is no longer the case. Today, guys do not have to worry about breaking the tension and bearing the awkwardness. By installing the new dating app, Bumble, men and women can enter a whole new realm of rules and norms. Like Tinder, matches are made by swiping; but unlike Tinder, only women can start the conversation.
In an interview with Andrew Chirico, The Elm’s sports editor and frequent Bumble user, Chirico said that he finds the concept “pretty interesting at first.” While the counter-cultural rule is fascinating, it does not quite work. Even when you match with numerous people, conversations are still never carried out. Interestingly, when you shift the burden of conversation to the other party, the results remain unchanged. Ironically, this is what allures guys to Bumble in the first place. Supposing that the woman will dominate the conversation, they believe that they have no need to maintain a sense of humor or express interest. Just because the woman starts the conversation, the guy is not automatically absolved from proving himself as an attractive person.
What’s all this to say about our current dating norms? Personally, I am beyond elated that the pressure of approaching and introducing is now a shared responsibility. However, this is only an app in a virtual matrix and has little to zero influence in the real world. Although it hardly happens, it is not socially unacceptable for a girl to make the first move. Maybe if society reduces the pressure for men to initiate conversations, more women will feel comfortable doing so. While some men and women may feel liberated by apps like Bumble, the same people might harbor resentment towards it. Do women really need a man-made online platform to express themselves? Why can’t they just strike up conversations openly in the real world?
While we could reasonably argue for equal gender roles all day long, we should not overstate the importance of who makes the first move. Regardless of whether the guy approaches the girl or vice versa, the dynamic of the ensuing conversation does not change. What matters most, and what will be most remembered is the conversation itself, not how it began.