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Those who are somewhat familiar with online dating have probably heard of popular apps like Tinder, OkCupid, eHarmony and Match.com. But what is Bumble, and why has it become such an attractive choice among single women?

Bumble is a dating app that puts women in the driver’s seat. Many women who have used other dating apps get frustrated when men immediately send them inappropriate messages after matching with them. On Bumble, the woman has to send the first message.

Launched in 2014 by a Tinder co-founder, Bumble currently boasts more than 55 million users in 150-plus countries. Here’s what you need to know about using this dating app.

Inside the Bumble dating app 

Like many of today’s dating apps, Bumble relies on geolocation to help its users find potential matches in their area. It borrows Tinder’s “swipe left, swipe right” functionality to help you sort through other users’ profiles, and sends a notification when you and another user have both swiped right on each other.

You can sign up for Bumble using a Facebook account or a phone number. Once you’ve input your name and age (which will be auto-filled if you sign up through Facebook), you can then begin filling out your profile.

  • Photos: Upload up to six unique photos, either directly from your phone or imported from Facebook. Bumble recommends avoiding group shots, blurry photos and selfies taken in a mirror, in a car, or without a shirt.
  • Bio: Here, include a brief description (300 characters or less) of yourself and any other important information you want other Bumble users to know about you. According to Bumble data, profiles with completed bios are 27% more popular than those with incomplete bios.
  • My Information: Specify your job, your education and your gender.
  • Linked Accounts: Bumble lets you link your Instagram and Spotify accounts to give potential matches a better idea of who you are. Your username will not be displayed.

You can also answer up to three Move Maker questions to display on your profile. These questions are designed to spark conversations: For example, you might share your childhood celebrity crush, your dream dinner guest, your most recent act of kindness, whether you prefer nightclubs or Netflix, and more.

Once your profile is complete, begin browsing and swiping through other users’ profiles. If you accidentally swipe left (dismiss) someone you meant to swipe right on, shake your phone to activate Bumble’s Backtrack feature and go back to the last profile you viewed. You can only Backtrack three times, but each Backtrack is restored three hours after you use it.

What makes Bumble different from other apps?

As mentioned above, Bumble requires women to make the first move when they match with men. This is a huge perk for users like 31-year-old Jessica, who likes that the app “allows women to be in control.”

“On other apps, I was inundated with messages, but on Bumble, I was in control of how many conversations I wanted to start,” explains Jessica, who used a variety of other online dating options before meeting her current partner on Bumble.

If a woman sends a message, her match has 24 hours after that to send a response if he wants to continue the conversation. If either party fails to take action, the match disappears forever, unless you opt to use the paid “Daily Extend” feature (more on that below).

Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd explains on the app’s website that she included this feature to turn “outdated” gender dynamics of romance and dating on their head, so women who use it can stop waiting around for the right guy to ask them out and instead take control of their own love lives. Bumble, their homepage notes, “is a platform rooted in kindness and respect,” designed to encourage a “safe online community” to establish new relationships.

While most women on Bumble love this messaging feature, men have some mixed reactions. In a Reddit thread, several male users chimed in to respond to a female user’s question about their experience on the app. Many of them complained about a lack of matches and even fewer messages from women.

“I still get at least some matches on Tinder, almost every day if I try,” says Reddit user AmazonExplorer. “Granted most never reply back, but it’s better than my odds on Bumble.”

Others have seen their success rate increase only after using paid Bumble features like SuperSwipe. According to Reddit user DeadPukka, he got seven matches in a four-day period with women he’d swiped on before but never matched with, after using this feature.

It’s important to note that the “ladies first” rule only applies to heterosexual matches. For users interested in same-sex relationships, either person can send the first message within 24 hours of matching with someone. As with male-female matches, the other person must respond within 24 hours to keep the conversation going.

Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF

Once you sign up for a Bumble account, you can also take advantage of its other services: a professional networking app called Bumble Bizz and a friend-finder app called Bumble BFF. These platforms work just like Bumble’s dating app, but instead of looking for a romantic partner, it matches you with business connections, career mentors, workout buddies, travel companions and more.

To use a different Bumble service, simply click the logo within the app or on the website and switch to the one you want to use. Either half of a match can send the first message (but you still have just 24 hours to do so). You will also need to create a separate profile on Bumble Bizz or Bumble BFF to make better business or friend matches. In other words, the information in your dating profile won’t show up on either of the other services.

What information does Bumble collect?

According to Bumble’s Privacy Policy, the app collects and stores the following data on its users:

  • Name
  • Username
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Gender identity
  • Date of birth
  • Sexual preference
  • Photographs
  • Location
  • Login information and friend lists for social media accounts connected to your Bumble Account

Bumble discloses that these details may be shared with third parties for purposes relating to, for example, any of its loyalty programs, sending gifts or delivering merchandise. The app may also collect additional information in connection with your use of Bumble’s messaging function.

Bumble encouragers users to think carefully about the optional information and photos they provide, especially if it involves sensitive personal details.

What does Bumble cost?

Don’t want to pay to find love? You’re in luck: Bumble’s basic services don’t cost a penny. However, if you want to enhance your Bumble experience, you can opt to pay for two premium services: Bumble Boost and Bumble Coins.

Bumble Boost unlocks additional features, including seeing a list of users who have swiped right on your profile, re-matching with expired connections and extending your matches for an additional 24 hours. Monthly subscriptions start at $13.33 per month (for a six-month subscription), or $8.99 per week if you don’t want to commit to a full month.

Bumble Coins can be purchased and spent on SuperSwipes, which shows someone you’ve swiped right on that you’re really interested in them. Bumble Coins also activate Spotlight, which temporarily highlights your profile to users of your preferred gender and maximizes the number of views you get. Individual Bumble Coins cost $1.99, with discounts for purchasing in bulk.

Is Bumble safe?

As with any dating app, there is always an inherent risk in meeting and connecting with a stranger over the internet. However, there’s nothing about Bumble that makes it less safe than other apps—in fact, because women have to message men first, it might make it a little easier to avoid unsolicited, “sleazy” messages and harassment.

Another feature that helps weed out would-be catfish and bots is Bumble Verification. Bumble is the first U.S.-based dating app with “catfish-catching technology,” and aims to detect fake profiles by having users submit a series of selfies in specific poses. A real Bumble team member reviews the photos and verifies the account in real time. If the profile photo doesn’t match the submitted selfies, Bumble shuts down the profile.

If you do decide to meet up with someone you match with on Bumble, reduce your risk of ending up in an unsafe situation by following these tips to protect yourself:

  1. Vet your match by looking them up on social media and running a people search on them. This may help you confirm some personal details they’ve shared with you.
  2. Plan to meet your date in a well-lit, busy public place with lots of bystanders in case something goes wrong.
  3. Tell a trusted family member or friend where you’ll be and when you expect to be home. You may want to ask them to check in on you if they don’t hear from you by a certain time.
  4. Take your own form of transportation to and from the date and never agree to go to another location if you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.

If you’re looking for a free dating app that promotes genuine connections and empowers women to make the first move, Bumble might be the right option for you.

With a 24-hour window to message a match, Bumble encourages women to seize the moment and reach out right away if they want to get to know someone. While a man on Bumble may not be able to message women first, he at least has the advantage of knowing that anyone who messages him is already interested in him.

Whether you choose to use Bumble or another dating app, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you want from the experience. Set your expectations and boundaries early, take your time getting to know someone before agreeing to a date, and most importantly, be your authentic self.