We all know the basics of how Bumble works: it’s the app where women take control, with the impetus on them to start the conversation. This twist on the usual dating app set up, and mild twist on gender norms, were intended to create a welcoming space online for women.
If you haven’t been keeping up with things for the last… oh… thirty years or so, quick update: the internet can often be tough or downright hostile towards women. On top of the girl-power aspect of Bumble (that’s a little unfair of me – the company has won awards for its championing of female staff and gives big money to female creators), it allows you to do all the usual things to narrow down candidates in your search for a match.
One of the most fundamental is the age range, a staple of dating sites since the dawn of time. Or at least the dawn of dating sites, so like, the early nineties?
If you’ve been on a dating app or site for more than about a minute, you’ve probably come across a request to set your age range. It’s something Bumble asks you when you sign up, in fact. It’s easy to understand from your own side – you put in a lower and upper age limit, and you only see potential matches whose ages fall within that range.
But what about the bigger picture. How does your age range interact with the age range setting of others? Does Bumble show you to people outside your age range. The short answer is yes, it seems to. Matches would simply be too limited by a whole web of upper and lower age limits otherwise.
So, if you are 30 and you have an age range of 25-40, a 42 year old with an age range of 30-55 might see your profile. You wouldn’t see theirs, though, unless they liked you. The system isn’t perfect, but it results in you mostly seeing potential matches that are within the range you specified with occasional outliers who have shown interest.
Can You Specify an Age Range on Bumble?
As I briefly mentioned above, specifying a desired age range is easy on Bumble. Obviously you can’t look for matches under 18 as there are no users that young, and also, ew. There’s a nominal upper age limit that simply reflects the top age Bumble’s designers think a human might be able to work out a smartphone (100 the last time I checked) but I’m sure users over that age would be welcome if they want to start swiping!
You will be asked to specify an age range for Bumble’s ongoing search when you sign up, but you can change it at any time. As noted above, you may see users who have liked you but are outside your range from time to time. Don’t worry, this is normal and not a bug in the system. If they’re too old or young for you to consider, just swipe left and forget about them.
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How Does Bumble Decide Who to Show You?
As Bumble is a location based dating app, its initial picks for you are based on where you are, who is close to you or falls within the boundary you’ve set, and fits your preferences for age and gender. Further to that, you can choose two advanced features to sort by – including things like smoking and drinking habits, what users are looking for and whether they want kids.
You’ll get a whole bunch of potential matches thrown at you at first, all of whom fit your basic criteria. This may happen in a randomized manner, or it may be based on popularity. Bumble keeps their algorithm pretty low key so it’s hard to know for sure.
Bumble does change the profiles you’re seeing over time, but unlike many of its competitors’ algorithms, Bumble’s background decision making doesn’t seem to be based on things like looks. Some users theorize that Bumble punishes users for too many right swipes, sending them to the back of the queue.
This might be because Bumble fears that they’re bots, but whatever the reason, you’re unlikely to see these profiles (or see them again if they’ve come up in the past). Attractive – or, from the algorithm’s point of view, popular – profiles get shown to a lot of people. That’s what creates the phenomenon of all the hot ones seeming to eventually run out if you swipe for a long time.
Well, that and you actually getting to the bottom of the barrel. Profiles with more and higher quality pictures also appear earlier in your feed, adding to the midnight-still-swiping issue of wondering if anyone attractive even exists within 20 miles of you anymore.
We don’t know a huge amount about the Bumble algorithm, but this is the basics of what it’s doing. We do know plenty about the app in general though, and if you want to know more too then you can have a look at my full guide.
Who Can See My Bumble Profile?
The same rules I just outlined apply in reverse when thinking about who can view your Bumble profile. Basically, if you fall within someone’s search criteria there’s a good chance you will come up on their feed. This is true whether or not they fit yours, and if they like you then you’ll see them too.
Of course, if you’re not into it just swipe left. If you’ve swiped someone left you might eventually see them again and they you, and the same is true if you’ve unmatched someone you’ve lost your interest in.
If you want to guarantee you won’t see another user again, and in turn they won’t see you, then you can block them. This is a move meant to protect from unpleasant behaviour, so don’t use it willy nilly!