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How to Make Friends on a Dating App: The Complete Guide

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
a couple of women sitting at a table with a cell phone
Navigating the world of dating apps isn't just about finding romantic sparks anymore; it's also a viable way to form meaningful platonic relationships.

Take Margaret for example—a 30-year-old who moved from bustling London to tranquil Devon for a lifestyle shift. While she was no stranger to using dating apps for romance, she discovered the untapped potential of features like Bumble BFF to find new friends in her new environment. As she adjusted to her surroundings, she found that these apps helped her overcome the awkwardness often associated with making friends as an adult.

If you're in a similar situation or simply looking to expand your social circle, you're in the right place. Welcome to "How to Make Friends on a Dating App: The Complete Guide," where we'll delve into effective ways to use dating apps for friendship, navigating this digital landscape with ease and safety in mind.

Exploring Friendship-Focused Dating Apps

In the pre-internet era, friendships blossomed through activities like group hobbies, workplace interactions, and religious gatherings. Fast forward to today, the digital age, where most adults are more likely to be scrolling through their phones than engaging in face-to-face interactions.

This shift has led to a decline in organic social connections, but it has also paved the way for a new solution: friendship-focused dating apps. These platforms offer a convenient and efficient way to connect with like-minded individuals, filling the social void many of us experience.

The Art of Making Friends Online

Navigating the world of friendship apps may initially seem daunting, but with a strategic approach, you can significantly increase your chances of forming meaningful connections. Consider the following strategies to enhance your online friend-finding experience:

  1. Clarity is Key: Right from the beginning, make it evident that you're on the hunt for friends, not romance. Ensure your language is direct and non-flirtatious.
  2. Photo Selection: Choose pictures that exude friendliness. Include one of you engaged in a solo activity and another showcasing a fun moment with friends.
  3. Stay Authentic: Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. Be genuine about your interests, values, and what makes you, well, you.
  4. Align with Interests: If you're hoping to find a tennis partner or a book club buddy, articulate that clearly in your profile.
  5. Detailed Descriptions: A detailed profile isn't just about length but about the richness of content. Highlight what kind of friend you are and what activities you hope to share, making it easier for potential pals to strike up a conversation.

Making the Leap from Screens to Real-Life Friend Dates

Anxiety is common when beginning any type of relationship. To start the conversation, carefully read the person's profile and find something to ask about or comment on. Ask questions to keep the conversation going. The more interest you show in the other person, the easier it will be for them to engage.

It can be challenging to tell if someone will make a good friend just by reading their profile. But, if the profile piques your interest, this is a good place to start. After a few conversations, you'll have a better idea of whether you want to continue the friendship outside of the app.

The easiest way to transition from online to offline meet-ups is to invite the person to an event or activity that you are already planning on attending. Having an activity to focus on can help to reduce the initial anxiety of a first meeting.

After participating in an activity together, consider scheduling a meeting where you can talk more to see if the friendship might have more depth. Balancing online and offline activities can be challenging because many factors influence time spent in real-life meetups, such as geographical proximity and scheduling. But you can overcome this by prioritizing your commitments and setting boundaries.

Overcoming Common Hurdles on Friendship Apps

1. People are only looking for sex and relationships

Even when you are on friendship apps, people will still send you messages highlighting a desire for sex or romance. To deal with this, do not engage. Any type of response to these messages is an invitation for further contact. If you don't engage, the person will stop contacting you.

2. People don't respond to my messages

Just like on dating apps, sometimes people will not respond. The best way to manage this is to move on. Not everyone will be good friend material.

3. People ghost me after a couple of messages

Rejection is difficult regardless of the medium or situation. One way to manage this is to remember that you don't want to spend energy or time on someone unwilling to do the same for you. Reciprocity is the key to rewarding and sustainable friendships.

4. Moving past the online stage is difficult

Meeting up in the real world can be challenging for many reasons. If safety is a concern, meet in a public place and have a time-limited first meeting. For example, you can meet for coffee or to walk around a gallery during your lunchtime hour. If someone is finding it impossible to meet up after a while, consider whether you want to put the online energy in or whether it is time to end the friendship.

5. I have not managed to make any friends

Building relationships is often a lengthy process, whether it is a friendship or a romantic relationship. It is important not to personalize the lack of connection you find on an app. Sometimes, it is the wrong app, and other times, it is just bad timing. If you aren't connecting, try a different app.

Group Activities on Friendship Apps

Another avenue worth exploring is the concept of group activities on friendship apps. These platforms are not just about one-on-one connections; they also offer the unique bonding experience of participating in group activities.

Engaging in group activities provides diverse social interactions, allowing you to connect with multiple individuals at once, offering varied perspectives and experiences. Additionally, the group setting can alleviate the pressure of direct interactions, making it easier to strike up conversations around shared activities or interests.

These group ventures often revolve around common passions, ensuring that participants already have a foundation for their interactions. This dynamic approach to digital friendships broadens your social circle in a more relaxed and organic manner.

How to Leverage Group Features on Friendship Apps:

  • Join Existing Groups: Many friendship apps have existing groups based on interests. Browse through them and join the ones that resonate with you.
  • Create Your Own Group: If you have a unique hobby or interest, consider creating your own group. This will attract like-minded individuals and give you the opportunity to lead and organize events.
  • Participate Actively: Merely joining a group isn't enough. Engage in discussions, attend meet-ups, and contribute to the group's activities. Active participation increases your visibility and chances of forming meaningful connections.
  • Safety in Numbers: Meeting new people as a group can be safer than one-on-one encounters, especially if you're meeting in person for the first time. Always choose public places for group meet-ups.

Are apps the key to making new friends as an adult?

Apps may not be the answer, but they are a helpful tool for making new friends. If you are looking for intellectual people, EliteSingles is one possibility to try. BumbleBFF is specifically focused on forming friendships, so this is a good choice if you are looking for friends as an adult.

Trying different apps like Hey! Vina which is for women, will give you access to different potential friendship groups.

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, a GSRD therapist, psychologist, and expert contributor to, specializes in sexuality, gender, and relationship diversity understanding. She guides individuals and couples toward fulfilling intimate relationships, drawing from her trauma-healing expertise since 1987. As a relationship therapist on "Open House: The Great Sex Experiment" and host of "The A To Z Of Sex®" podcast, she fosters open dialogue about intimacy and self-expression.