Dating apps are entering uncharted territory — the purposeful friend zone. Bumble, the mobile dating tool that was already innovative in its female-first approach, is now disrupting the dating space again. This time, it’s with the introduction of the BFF mode. Rather than swiping to find potential romantic prospects, this new mode lets women find platonic relationships as well. Because let’s face it, as hard as it is to find a significant other in this day and age, finding a dependable entourage may be even more difficult.
So how does it work? BFF mode does operate on the rather antiquated presumption that when you’re looking for friends, you’re looking within your same sex.
So in Bumble, when a user departs from swiping for dates, they’ll just be swiping for other damsels if the user is a woman, or gents if the user is a man. The same algorithm will be applied, so just as you’d see potentially compatible relationship matches, you’ll see suggestions for good friends. If a friend catches your eye, you’ll swipe right, and if the respondent agrees, you’ll be connected. From there, you’ve got 24 hours to strike up a conversation and see if you can really pick friends based on looks alone.
I mean, it’s almost like rushing a sorority or a fraternity.
— Bumble (@bumble_app) March 4, 2016
To keep you from confusing your friend conversations with your potentially boyfriend conversations, your BFFs will appear in green, while the romantic prospects will be highlighted in yellow.
It’s a daring move for the app, founded by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe in December 2014. It marks the first time that a dating application has purposefully moved into the friends-only space, though research shows that an increasing number of users are using the apps for that purpose already. And given Bumble’s rapidly growing user base, having this friendly approach may make the world of online dating seem all the more palatable to those looking to first dip a toe in before taking the plunge. With 1.5 million users added since January alone and 100 million messages exchanged in the last three months, Bumble has a loyal fan base just waiting to try something new.
And that something new is the digital search for your next BFF.