I uninstalled Bumble this morning.
It’s been a long and prosperous two-month career. I’ve gone on five first dates in two months. I’m so good at first dates now that I don’t even want a second date anymore. Why would I want to break my professional streak?
Initially, I resisted the persuasive arguments of my friends to join Bumble but after a while, it became increasingly obvious that no one wants to meet their next romantic liaison in real life anymore. They want to mutually swipe right and pretend that 95% of the reason they swiped was not because of looks alone. They want to suffer through some painful attempts at wit before meeting in public and hugging awkwardly for the first time.
In a moment of weakness, this seemed like an appealing option to me and I created a profile.
The first person I chatted to was 195cm. Within 24 seconds of being on Bumble, I’d learned that height was of the utmost importance and began to absorb by osmosis this very ideal. Why else would 85% of male Bumble profiles include their height? 6ft if that matters. 6’3, I can be your big spoon. 6’9, I can reach the highest shelves. 7’11, I’m a genetic mutation.
195cm guy had a dog filter over his face in his first picture and was partially obscured in the rest. Naturally, I assumed he had some kind of facial disfigurement. We began chatting. I wouldn’t call him a scintillating conversationalist but he made very few spelling or grammatical errors and seemed to understand the basics of sentence structure. I was very impressed.
“Hey, want to come over tonight?” he asked me on our 42nd hour of chatting. Presumably not for a game of Uno or slice of cheesecake.
“No,” I said.
“Okay, how about coffee?” Coffee seemed like a better way to meet someone for the first time and with less risk of contracting a venereal disease. Admittedly though, I was a little disappointed by his lack of persistence.
By this time, I was swiping with a vigor known only to teenage boys discovering masturbation for the first time. It felt like the world or at least the male population of Perth was at my fingertips. I was being sucked into a vortex. Riding on this wave, I set up my very first Bumble date with 195cm guy.
In the meantime, I went on a date with someone else. I told you; I was a machine at this point. He was German. He invited me to his university dorm for lunch. I briefly wondered how he would choose to dispose of my body.
“You should go,” said my housemate when I consulted her with my impending mortality. “It’s a lot less boring than a coffee date.”
“Hey, he’s 195cm, okay? He doesn’t have to be interesting,” I said.
I went. German guy cooked salmon pasta. I observed him with the eye of a practiced voyeur. He was very precise about how he cut the garlic and onion. I wondered if this carried over to how he liked to cut up the bodies of his victims. We sat to eat together in a strangely intimate meal between two strangers.
He didn’t murder me but he did nearly kill me with the amount of lactose he used in his cooking. How does one tell a complete stranger that the food he’s serving you is likely to cause you severe abdominal pains and explosive diarrhea in a couple of hours? The answer is you don’t. I would later pay the price.
Imbued with the relative success of my first date, I went to get coffee with 195cm guy the next day. We met outside a bookshop where I discovered he had no facial disfigurements nor a permanent dog filter over his face. He was an actor and budding comedian. He tried some jokes on me. They weren’t funny. At least he was tall.
“Tell me about your job,” he asked. I told him some medical related things. We got onto the topic of psychiatry.
“I’ve been a psych inpatient before,” he said. I looked up at him and tried to tell if he was the schizophrenic patient or the major depressed.
The funny thing was, I could swear he’d just been telling me about the Bumble date that he’d had the night before. It had been a big night, he was a bit hungover and apologized if he wasn’t really making sense.
“This has been really lovely,” I said to him at the end of my one-hour parking ticket. “It was nice to meet you.”
He messaged me later that night about a play he was performing in. Ruthlessly, I decided to unmatch with him. 195cm was just too tall.
The next date I went on was with a Jewish engineer. We had electric conversational chemistry over the app. He taught me what the word esoteric meant and we discussed how to avoid spaghetti bolognese stains. We met for a drink after work after one day of matching.
“You’re so jaded,” he said after five minutes.
“Excuse me?” I was three Bumble dates in and had already apparently lost my starry-eyed naivete.
“You just seem like you don’t care that much.”
Maybe I really didn’t care. This whole online dating thing seemed pretty free of consequences. I could say whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted to be and never have to see or talk to the person again if I chose not to. It was frankly liberating.
Jewish engineer and I continued to have electric conversational chemistry in person. We talked about his international romantic conquests and dreams of being a ski instructor. But sadly, I didn’t feel a romantic connection. I wanted to talk to him about his past romantic conquests but didn’t want to become one.
“This is one of the best Bumble dates I’ve been on,” he said. I could now see myself being best friends with this person. “I want to see you again.”
We parted ways. The next day, we decided to be friends. I have pre-emptively declared this to be the longest lasting relationship I get out of Bumble.
My fourth Bumble date was with a Ph.D. student studying beetles. I was losing steam at this point. I was great out of the gate but lacked dating stamina. But Beetle Boy, as I came to fondly refer to him, seemed like an authentic personality. First of all, he was studying beetles. Second of all, his profile was completely devoid of any repetitive, unimaginative Bumble trope. No mention of dad jokes or doggos.
We decided he was going to show me his beetle lab. We met on a Friday evening. He led me down a white corridor with plastic tubs encrusted with dung beetle excrement. This was turning out to be a very romantic encounter. His lab was a tiny room with shelves filled with hundreds of containers filled with beetles. He put a male and female beetle into the same vial and we watched them mate.
“During mating, the male penis permanently scars the female reproductive tract,” he explained.
“Oh,” I said.
Beetle Boy really was an authentic personality who didn’t seem to abide by general societal norms. But there was no chemistry and we were very different people. He was a beetle boy and I was a human girl. Genetically speaking, it would have never worked. I was also 95% done with Bumble and wanted to return to the real world of awkward in-person flirting and solitary womanhood.
Perhaps it was unfair to my fifth Bumble date that I went in with this attitude. He was a student teacher and “occasionally on the radio.” We got pizza together on a Thursday night.
“How long have you been on Bumble?” he asked me over truffle-infused ricotta and rocket, my least favorite of all edible leaves.
“About two months. I’m thinking of stopping soon.”
“I think 2-3 months is the limit for most people.”
Strangely, it was what he said that really cemented my decision. I’d been losing interest but it had become a sort of compulsion. Sometimes I found myself swiping before I was consciously aware of my actions. That was probably a sign I should stop. My fingers had better things to do.
I uninstalled Bumble shortly after.
I won’t lie, I have felt slightly bereft without the thrill of a new person to stalk on Facebook. However, I’m sure that will soon pass and I’ll be left with only the memories, experiences and lessons I’ve learned. Through Bumble, I’ve learned that China only has one-time zone, that Stalin liked to put tomatoes in people’s pockets and what the “polter” part of “poltergeist” means in German.
As it turns out though, Bumble doesn’t just teach you facts that might come in handy for a pub quiz. It also teaches you valuable life skills. I went into this thinking I would spend 24 hours avoiding dick pics then leave. Instead, this experience has taught me to foster a less self-conscious attitude, to speak my mind more and that strangers don’t have to be scary.
I recently interviewed for a new job.
“This is like the ultimate Bumble date,” I said to my housemates as we sat around eating smoked cheese and instant ramen.
“All those dates have been the perfect practice for this interview,” they agreed.
Swiping right has exposed me to a whole range of human specimens I wouldn’t have encountered in my everyday life. I’m thankful for the experiences and conversations I’ve had but at least for now, I’m swiping left.