In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. It is cuffing season after all.
For nearly 15 years I’ve had an incomparable, glorified, admittedly ridiculous crush on the same man. He has a remarkably goofy sense of humor, a gorgeous head of hair, and one of the most contagious smirks I’ve ever seen.
The guy has some major qualities I’m looking for in a partner, but it’s unfortunately never going to work out. For one thing, he got married in 2009. And for another, he’s Jim Halpert from The Office — so, crucially, not a real person.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never meet the Jim Halpert from my television screen in real life. But apparently, if I download a dating app, hundreds of Jim Halpert posers will be right at my fingertips.
Over the past few years, an increasing number of people have started using their dating app bios to broadcast their favorite fictional couple, which, in many cases, is The Office’s Jim and Pam.
The Office has been off the air since 2013, but a Netflix resurgence has garnered even more new fans. There are now hundreds of self-proclaimed Jim Halperts out there with the phrase, “Looking for the Pam to my Jim,” in their bios, and, conversely, a fair share of people looking for the Jim to their Pam. There are Leslie Knopes looking for their Ben Wyatts, Ross Gellers looking for their Rachel Greens, and occasionally a couple reference that cuts a bit deeper, like a hilariously layered “Shiv Roy looking for her Tom Wambsgans.”
The trend of name-dropping fictional couple goals in dating app profiles has become so common that it’s sparked memes, parody articles, and tweets from fed-up dating app users desperately searching for partners with originality. But in the face of hate and mockery, these Jim and Pam bios prevail.
The Jim and Pam die-hards
“I really like that they were friends first. I am of the opinion that the strongest relationships are often built on a foundation of friendship, and I think they are a lovely example of that,” she explained in a Twitter DM (she asked not to use her last name because of her job).Though Courtney didn’t include the couple in her bio, she admitted she’s reached out to people using Office-related pickup lines, and has even had a match tell her that he was “looking for his Pam.”
“We met on the app Bumble, where the girl has to make the first move,” Courtney said. “I HATE making first moves and am very awkward about it, and in this case I kind of used an Office-inspired quote as a pickup line.”
After Courtney messaged a match, “Are you from accounting? Because I was ac-counting on hearing from you later,” he replied, “I was hoping you’d say hi, because in your picture you look like Pam and I’m looking for my Pam.” The two ended up dating, and though they’re no longer together, “Jim and Pam” references were made frequently during their relationship.
When asked if Jim and Pam bios are still going strong, a representative from the dating app confirmed that “the use of ‘Jim and Pam’ in profiles has increased by 44 percent in the past year (as a proportion of total profiles).” A rep from also shared that profile mentions of The Office increased on their app more than 300 percent from January 2017 to January 2018, and mentions of Jim Halpert and/or Pam Beesly specifically increased 244 percent.
The analytics team at , an online dating service that’s been around since 1995, even found that The Office duo is mentioned in profiles 6.5 times more than their second most popular couple, Ricky and Lucy, who were solely referenced by people over the age of 40. (None of the dating companies would provide the raw data.)
Setting yourself apart from the crowd
It’s clear that Jim and Pam are still being excessively referenced in bios, but as their popularity continues to grow some TV fans have decided to put their own twist on the trend.
When 27-year-old Kally Lavoie, who works in Public Relations in Boston, first downloaded Bumble in August 2019, she said she was overwhelmed with the number of Jim and Pam bios she saw. “I eventually deleted the app, but that reference stuck in my mind,” she explained over email. “When I re-downloaded Bumble [in October 2019,] I picked Ben and Leslie from Parks and Recreation.”
“Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, so I thought it would help me stand out in a crowd of The Office references and be a great talking point,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Jim and Pam. I’ve had a work crush on a ‘Jim’ that I wish would have led to a ‘Casino Night’ declaration of love (which is exactly why I think this crush-turned-romance makes it so universally loved on dating apps), but the Parks and Rec relationship is more relatable,” Lavoie said. “I see myself as a Leslie — highly organized, ambitious, a little weird, anxious about dating — and would love to date a ‘Ben’ — someone equally as ambitious, smart, nerdy and kind.”
While Ben and Leslie aren’t referenced as frequently as Jim and Pam, it turns out they’re not as innovative a choice as one might think. Profile mentions of Parks and Rec on OkCupid increased 150 percent from January 2017 to January 2018, and mentions of Ben Wyatt and/or Leslie Knope specially rose more than 450 percent that year. So if you really want to set yourself apart from the crowd, you’ll have to choose a less mainstream couple, like 27-year-old Lila T., a therapist based in New York, did.
“A few months ago, during the height of the second season of Succession, I wrote on my Hinge profile that I was looking for the ‘Tom to my Shiv,'” Lila said in an email (she asked not to use her last name because of her job). “I thought it would be funny, because Shiv has all the power in the relationship, and Tom is this loyal-to-a-fault partner; the ultimate cuckold.” However, as Tom and Shiv’s relationship grew more complex, the bio took on a whole different meaning and Lila changed it.
For 28-year-old Alex Kack, who you may remember as one of 2019’s most eligible bachelors, “,” the thought of referencing a couple in his profile seemed a bit too “cheesy.” Instead, he compared himself to a single New Girl character to communicate that he’s definitely not perfect, but is still a good dude.
While Kack admitted that his ideal type is “goofy, smart, with glasses, and out of my league,” (much like Nick Miller’s partner, Jessica Day,) he simply wrote, “A nick miller type” in his bio after a friend said he reminded her of Nick. “I thought about it and realized it’s true,” he said in an email. Kack joked that the bio could definitely be seen as a “a red flag” for people who are familiar with Miller’s shortcomings, but ultimately, he feels the bio is honest and relatable. “Nick’s overall a good guy, but he’s a mess, he’s totally stunted and that really hits close to home.”
The case against popular couple bios
Jim and Pam references have become so ubiquitous that people are starting to view the bios as painfully unoriginal crutches.
The couple’s slow-burn relationship is so romanticized and heavily commercialized that nearly 15 years after The Office first aired, the internet remains full of Jim and Pam merch. While some fans of The Office may want to honor the couple in their bios, for others, seeing Jim and Pam referenced ad nauseam has caused the couple to lose a bit of their magic.
It’s truly alarming how many boring ass people are looking for the Jim to their Pam
— It’s Georgia Now 💕 (@ItsGeorgiaNow1) February 3, 2020
If I see one more dude on bumble put in his bio “looking for the Pam Beasley to my Jim” I will go fucking join a convent the next day
— Jellicle Bitch (@carolinezigrang) January 10, 2020
bless me father for i have sinned (swiped right on a jim looking for his pam)
— dirt prince (@pant_leg) August 8, 2018
I saw my ex’s profile when I was briefly on Bumble and the first thing on his profile was that he was looking for the Pam to his Jim and that was the moment I knew divorce had been the right decision for us
— Cari Hernandez (@eatinginmycar) January 17, 2020
No matter how much Radhika Menon, a 28-year-old from Michigan who’s currently living in New York, loves a show, whenever she finds a bio that references a popular couple like Jim and Pam she sees it as “a red flag that screams ‘ya basic.'” In a Twitter DM, Menon explained, “I feel like it’s just such a popular show that it shows you’re not even trying.” She did, however, say that she gives “bonus points” for bios with “deep cut TV show” references, or references from shows that she thinks are underrated and are not overwhelmingly present in today’s pop culture discussions. “I’d for sure swipe right on someone looking for their Tami Taylor,” she said, referencing the 2006 football-centric drama series, Friday Night Lights.
Aside from being too conventional, another disadvantage of TV couple bios is that they can be isolating. There’s always a chance someone hasn’t seen the show you’re referencing, which could make them feel self-conscious or hesitant about trying to connect with you. Lavoie has seen a few bios mention people or couples she didn’t know, and it’s impacted her desire to engage. “I always figure that if I don’t understand the reference, I probably won’t get along with that person,” she said.
Similarly, if someone dislikes the couple you reference in your bio, they could prematurely disregard you as a potential partner. Courtney has seen her fair share of couple references on apps, and said she doesn’t pay them much mind unless it’s a couple she greatly dislikes. “I don’t think I would message someone who saw Ted and Robin as something to aspire to,” she admitted, because she personally thinks the How I Met Your Mother pair is “terrible.”
Rachel DeAlto, ‘s chief dating expert, emphasized that referencing niche shows specifically appealing to certain fan bases is tricky. “There’s nothing wrong with referencing your favorite TV shows in your bio, but I’d avoid declaring yourself a ‘Pam looking for your Jim’ unless you are a die hard fan of The Office and ONLY want to date other die hard Office fans,” DeAlto said in an email. “First, if you reference a show they aren’t familiar with, you’re confusing them from the start — not the best first impression. Second, unless your character traits mirror that TV character, you may be giving them the wrong impression of you — maybe they aren’t into Pam, Ross, Rachel, or Khaleesi.”
Another serious concern is that because couples like Jim and Pam are so widely and openly beloved, some of the many bio references may not be entirely sincere. Several people on Twitter have complained that men who’ve self-identified with Jim Halpert proceeded to send them crude messages that didn’t align with the character’s personality, while others have encountered people with Office references in their bios who didn’t appear to know much about the show at all.
every guys tinder bio: just a Jim looking for his Pam
every guys first message: “lol wanna hook up”
i am CERTAIN this is NOT what Jim said
— Malin (@malin_peterson) May 31, 2017
Guys say “I’m looking for the Pam to my Jim” then act like Ryan
— mags (@Magggieprobs) January 27, 2020
Real question: why is it a trend for straight white boys to post pictures of their BARE ASS on tinder? I did not sign up to be mooned by 4 Kyles in a row all with the bio “just a Jim looking for his Pam”, JIM HALPERT WOULD NEVER
— Riley Dixon (@rileyndixon) December 18, 2019
I find it really hard to believe that every guy on every dating app is Jim Halpert?
— Marie Lance (@marie_em_lance) December 7, 2018
If you’re looking for your very own Office-inspired romance these bios can be charming, but be sure to weed out the real Halperts from the imposters. As Dwight K. Schrute would say, “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim.”
Put in the effort
For people who consider television an important part of their lives, references are not only seen as endearing, but as a helpful way to determine potential compatibility.
Bumble’s Vice President of Strategy, Priti Joshi, is all for referencing TV couples in bios, because she feels that profiles are an “opportunity to show off your sense of humor and let your potential match get to know a little bit more about you.” She also admitted that “there’s something special about referencing an uncommon TV show and matching with someone who gets it, too!”
Joshi did, however, note that people love unique profiles, so if you’re going to name-drop a couple, try to make it a remarkable one. Reference a pair from another Mike Schur show, like The Good Place‘s Eleanor and Chidi or Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Jake and Amy. For a throwback, consider Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World. And instead of Jim and Pam, why not reference another Office couple like Holly and Michael, or a real-life romance like John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s?
If the ability to appreciate quality TV shows is something you’re looking for in a significant other, by all means, drop a couple reference in your bio. Anyone who hates on it probably isn’t a good match for you, so who cares?
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