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Interview of Lucille McCart by Freya Bennett

Navigating the modern landscape of dating, where the majority of connections are forged through a screen, can be overwhelming with its abundance.

In a world where swipes and clicks have become the currency of courtship, and heartfelt conversations unfold through technology more so than in person, finding love (or casual hook-ups) has taken on new dimensions.

We asked you, our Ramona readers, your biggest questions and concerns when it comes to online dating and we have put them to Bumble’s APAC Communications Director Lucille McCart to answer.

Photograph of Lucille McCart

How can I safely meet up with someone in person? 

Firstly, remember that your safety is more important than anything else and you shouldn’t ever meet up with someone in person before you feel comfortable or if the vibes don’t feel right. There is no set timeline you should follow in terms of how long you should talk before taking things IRL because every conversation moves at a different pace – generally you should just trust your instincts on whether you feel excited by the prospect of a date with your match, or if you feel like it is too soon.

Once you have decided that you want to meet up, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep personal information to yourself at the start – it’s okay to be careful what you share about yourself. Things like your home address or exact place of work are good to keep private, and you might be grateful for this should you decide you want to take a step back after your date. You don’t even need to share your phone number, as you can call and video chat through the Bumble app.
  • Do background research –  Get your detective skills on and check social media to verify your match is who they say they are. This might reveal some red flags you weren’t aware of from your chats with them.
  • Agree to meet in a public place – this carries fewer risks and is usually more fun for a first date anyway. Tell a friend where you are going and who you are meeting and let them know when you get home. Meeting somewhere with staff (for eg a bar) also means you can ask for help if an uncomfortable situation arises.
  • Above all trust your gut and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to end a date early.

I use dating apps for both hookups and relationships, should I be using a different approach when after different things? 

The best Bumble bio I have ever seen that captures this exact sentiment stated that the person was “casually looking for something serious”. I thought that was so good that I wanted to copy it for myself!

In terms of whether you need to change your approach based on what you’re looking for, that depends on how often you switch between looking for a hookup versus a relationship, or whether you are looking for both at the same time, like the bio I mentioned above was.

Typically, our advice is to lead with your intentions. For example you could use our Badge that indicates what you are looking for – ‘relationship’, ‘something casual’, or ‘don’t know yet’. You can then use Filters to match with people who have the same intention as you. That way you aren’t investing in getting to know people who are only looking for something casual if you want something serious.

However, if you don’t know what you are looking for (or it changes with your mood), then the best approach would be to try and be as honest and authentic as you can be in your bio and Profile Prompts, so that then you are attracting matches that are compatible with your personality – from there you can work out if they have short term or long term potential!

What is a non-cheesy way to start a conversation? 

On Bumble, women make the first move in heterosexual matches, which means that for a lot of women, they are responsible for starting the conversation – so we get this question a lot!

All of our data and insights tell us that pretty much anything is better than just saying “hey” or “hi”.

Here are some tips:

  • Use your matches name in your opening line, it makes things feel more personal
  • Read their bio, look at their Interest Badges, check their Spotify top artists and see if there is anything that stands out to you in their photos. Bringing up something they are interested in is a great way to show you’re  paying attention, and is more likely to get a response (this is also a case for why YOUR profile should have some of this info!)
  • Ask questions – if you are stuck for ideas, use the Questions Game feature that has them pre-loaded and makes the process fun by only revealing the answer when you have both responded. My go-to question is “what’s your favourite Arnott’s biscuit?”
  • Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheesy! Sometimes you need an icebreaker, and if you stay true to your sense of humour your match will probably find it endearing. Beyond that, the world is your oyster!

I really want a serious relationship but I don’t want to come across as desperate. How can I be honest without being too full on? 

Firstly, it is not desperate to want a serious relationship. Seeking connection is normal and natural, and wanting to be in a relationship doesn’t mean that you aren’t okay being single. Unfortunately, being part of a patriarchal society means that there is a stigma attached to saying openly that you are looking for a relationship, and women fear being branded desperate, crazy or a ‘stage five clinger’.

This is tied closely to traditional gender roles in heterosexual relationships, and it benefits men in circumstances where women ask less of them in the dating stage of a relationship, and gives them the power over when to advance the relationship to exclusive or more serious. Personally I think it is time that we move on from these old tropes and start asking for what we want.

You shouldn’t need to worry about being “too full on”. In fact, the more open and honest you are about the fact that you are dating to find a relationship, the more likely you are to weed out the people that don’t share that goal. The guy that runs for the hills when you say you want a relationship, probably isn’t your future husband.

That’s not to say you need to share your five year plan on a first date, but you can do things like add the ‘relationship’ badge to your Bumble profile, talk about some of the things you are looking for in your bio, and make the effort to match with people who look like they have similar intentions.

One of the first things I always ask my matches is “what are you looking for right now?” – even asking that simple question is a pretty easy way to work out if someone is compatible with your goals, based on their response.

When writing your bio and building your profile, think about what you can include that will bring in people who are compatible with you. If you love getting out of the city on a weekend and going for a bushwalk, include photos of you doing that and mention it in your bio. Likewise if your passion is music festivals or dance parties – be open about who you are!

The best tip is to keep it simple and positive – for example, ‘looking for something meaningful’ will be more well received than ‘if you aren’t looking for commitment keep swiping’.

Photograph by Giorgio Trovato

If I’m just interested in hookups, should I be upfront from the start? 

They do say that honesty is the best policy. For this one it comes down to striking the balance between maintaining your privacy (you don’t need to tell everyone everything) and being respectful of other people’s time and upfront about your intentions. If you just want to hook up and they want to date more seriously, it is better to get on the same page about that early on.

In the same way that we spoke about building a profile that reflects that you are looking to date for a serious relationship, and to attract people who want the same thing, you can do the same for casual dating. Only in this case, instead of using the ‘relationship’ badge you’re using the ‘something casual’ badge, and instead of focusing on creating a profile that talks about your goals and passions, you can build one that is more lighthearted and fun and flirty.

How can I filter out the fuckboys? haha!

Unfortunately we don’t have the technology for this yet! I also think that what defines a f*ck boy can be a little bit subjective depending on what you are looking for. It really comes down to your swiping behaviour. If you are fed up with matches that ‘only want one thing’, pay attention to your swiping habits – are you swiping right on the same types of profiles and not finding what you are looking for? Maybe it is time to broaden your horizons and start matching with people outside of your usual type.

I know that personally I am guilty of swiping right on profiles that have all the red flags of a f*ck boy (for example an empty bio, or worse, a bio that says ‘I’m an open book, just ask’) because I get swept up in piercing blue eyes or a just-got-back-from-Italy tan. But don’t fall for it! If you’re in a season of your life where f*ck boys aren’t welcome, it is time to be more discerning with your swipes.

Ideas for low-cost dates? 

Right now all of the data from our Bumble community is telling us that the cost of living pressures have crept into our romantic lives, meaning that low-key dating is on the rise. This means getting a coffee with someone before you commit to dinner and drinks, or doing things like a bushwalk or a free art gallery visit as a fun first date idea. These kinds of activities are also better ways of getting to know your match than just sitting in a pub.

Other low-key date ideas include hitting up your local happy hour, introducing your pets on a morning dog walk, or as the weather gets warmer, a trip to the beach or sharing an ice cream.

The most important thing to remember is that EVERYONE is feeling the pinch right now, so don’t be afraid to say that you’re on a budget or not in a position to spend a lot of money – in fact, our recent research said that 81% of single Australias are conscious of their partners budget when suggesting a venue for a date.

Photograph by Masha S

I’m interested in both men and women but I really want a serious relationship with a woman and not a man, should I be upfront with the men I’m hooking up with? 

You aren’t obligated to share deeply personal information about yourself with someone you are seeing very casually or just hooking up with (for example, details about your sexuality or gender identity).

However, the general rule of thumb is to treat people how you want to be treated yourself.

If you were hooking up with someone and they had made the decision it was never going to get serious but they didn’t communicate that to you, would you feel hurt? It is likely that the guys you are hooking up with will be totally okay with keeping things casual, but if you know that it is never going to go any further than that, the kind thing to do would be to have that conversation with them so that they have the choice to opt in or opt out once they know the facts. If they opt out, you carry on your journey, if they opt in, you can keep having fun with them until you meet the woman of your dreams!

Is online dating safe? 

At Bumble we are committed to helping people create safe and healthy relationships. That doesn’t mean that online dating doesn’t come with risks, and it is important to be aware of those so that you can keep yourself as safe as possible.

Bumble has a wide range of safety features to keep our community safe, and our Safety and Wellbeing Centre is available within the app for more safety advice. Some of our top features include:

  • Block And Report  we ask our community to report any behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to us so that we can take action. Reports are always kept confidential so that the reported individual doesn’t know who reported them, and we encourage our community to use this function. This feature is easily accessible during any point of your dating journey within the app.
  • Photo Verification and Video Calls – we employ a number of additional tools and features to prevent abuse from occurring at the first instance, including photo verification, in-app audio and video calls (which reduces the need to share personal details like phone numbers or email addresses before you are ready and comfortable), and strict policies around harassment, fetishisation or body shaming.
  • In 2019, Bumble introduced Private Detector,which is an industry-first feature that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and blur lewd images, giving the recipient agency to decide if they want to view the image, delete it, or report it to our team. This significantly reduces the ability to share unsolicited nude images on Bumble.
  • Unmatch We know that a concern of victim-survivors is being unmatched by perpetrators of abuse or harassment after an incident has occurred. Bumble’s Unmatch feature has been specifically designed to provide a guardrail against this type of behaviour, as it preserves a conversation for our moderators, should the victim-survivor wish to make a report to our team. So victim-survivors who have concerns about the removal of evidence should know that this is protected against on Bumble.
  • Bloom for Sexual Assault Survivors: Online Trauma Support Program – In 2021 we announced an industry first partnership with Bloom run by gender-based violence nonprofit, CHAYN, to provide complimentary online trauma support to members of our global community who experience sexual assault or relationship abuse. If someone within our community reports sexual assault or relationship abuse to our feedback team, they will receive a code for free access to support.

How can I protect my identity online? 

The best way to protect your identity online is to be wary of what information you share, and to be on the lookout for unusual requests for personal information from potential scammers. For example, you can make phone calls and video chat through the Bumble app, so there is no need to share your phone number or email address right away. You can link your Instagram account to share more photos of yourself, so you don’t need to share your handle if you don’t want to. You can add your profession to your profile, but you don’t need to say exactly where you work. It’s also wise to choose photos that don’t give away the exact locations that you frequent or exactly where you live. So there are ways to let people get to know you without giving away personal details.

Also remember that there is never any reason that someone you have met on a dating app should need information like your bank details, passwords, information about your family, or anything else that might be suspicious – always trust your gut, and if it feels wrong don’t be afraid to block and report someone and move on.

Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and editor from Dja Dja Wurrung Country who loves grey days, libraries and dandelion tea. You can follow her on Instagram @freya___bennett

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