Bumble helped me escape the 'Seattle freeze' and weather an antisocial pandemic

Holding a smartphone with the Bumble logo
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

I'm a pretty introverted guy, so meeting people can often be difficult. It's especially difficult after moving to a new town or city where I hardly knew anyone. That was the case nearly four years ago when I moved from my sunny hometown of San Diego to the wet, grayness of Seattle. As lush as the Emerald City is, it has a reputation for not being the most sociable environment, which is understandably off-putting for some. Despite that, I've managed to make some great connections while living here, and it's mostly thanks to Bumble.

While I'm probably on just about every gay dating app there is, I don't actually use Bumble to date. Instead, I use it to make friends. Interestingly, I find that many of the people I come across aren't actually aware that Bumble has different "modes" that let you choose what you want to get out of the app. Aside from dating, Bumble also has a networking mode (which I don't use) and a "BFF" mode.

Bumble's different modes

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Now, something to know about Seattle is that it's famously known for the "Seattle freeze." It's not referring to the weather (although it gets pretty chilly) but instead the overall demeanor of the residents that live here, as they come off as cold, distant, and standoffish. Apparently, making friends here is quite difficult.

To be honest, I don't believe in the Seattle freeze; I just think it's generally harder to make friends as an adult. I feel like the working world doesn't often grant people as many opportunities to make new friends as when you're at school, where you're pretty much forced to interact with others. It's admittedly one of the things I miss so much about being in college, but I digress.

Having heard about this Seattle freeze phenomenon and knowing how much of an introvert I am, I decided to download Bumble almost as soon as I arrived.

It works similarly to the dating side, where you can swipe right or left on a profile you find interesting. When creating a profile, you can fill out various prompts to help people get to know you better. Upon matching, anyone can make the first move to initiate a conversation, but you have 24 hours to send a message, after which another 24-hour timer begins. If the other person doesn't respond within that second 24-hour period, then the match expires, and you can no longer contact each other.

It's a pretty neat way of weeding out those that are just swiping without a second thought from those that are actually serious about making connections. And, for those of you that may have forgotten to send a response in time, you can sign up for the Boost or Premium subscriptions, which allow you to backtrack or extend matches.

I personally don't subscribe, but there are plenty of times when I wish I had. If you do, you also get to see the list of people who liked you for even faster matching. And for those of you on Android phones, Bumble will soon begin offering choice billing through a partnership with Google, so you can subscribe through the Play Store or via Bumble's billing.

My first match was admittedly a bust, and we didn't hang out again after our first meeting. In hindsight, I think the gym was probably not the best place to meet up. Like any app, not every match works out, which is fine. However, many of my following matches have turned out to be great, and I've managed to make so many new friends since I moved to Seattle. It's nice because, unlike dating, there are really no expectations with Bumble BFF, and I get from it what I put into it.

It was particularly useful during the pandemic, which hit almost exactly a year after I moved to Seattle. Everyone was super cautious about being around other people, but Bumble still made it possible to make friends virtually. The app eventually added a vaccine badge to help ease the minds of users that wanted to try meeting people in person. It was nice being able to go on hikes and be somewhat social during a time when it felt forbidden.

In fact, doing so helped me come out of my shell little by little, and while I'm still fairly introverted, I've become a lot more social over the past year, going out to bars, clubs, concerts, and even doing karaoke. These are things that I would rarely want to do pre-pandemic (let alone leave the house), but growing my social circle has opened my eyes to a world outside my apartment.

Don't get me wrong, I still very much prefer the comfort of being home. But now I'm much more willing to go out and experience new things or meet up with friends or new matches if we click well enough.

Bumble BFF has been a staple of my life over the past few years while I settled in as a Seattle resident. If you're moving, just moved, or maybe just looking to expand your horizons and friend circle a bit, I would suggest checking out Bumble BFF for yourself. Making friends as an adult can be hard, be it doesn’t have to be.

Download: Google Play Store (opens in new tab)

Bumble

Bumble is a great app for not just dating but also networking or just for making friends, thanks to the different modes you can switch between. It's free to use, but you can subscribe to get the most out of the app and improve your chances.

Download: Google Play Store (opens in new tab)