One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when they’re new to online dating occurs during the creation of their profile. Particularly, their profile photo. I know, it’s scary. The entire world (or, at least, everyone on that specific dating site) will see, and judge you based on that one initial photo. Will it be worthy enough to inspire them to scroll through your other photos? Or maybe even read your entire profile? Maybe. If you avoid a few pitfalls.
While setting up her profile for the first time a few months ago, my friend scrolled through her Facebook albums looking for the photo– the one that would catch the eye of her knight in shining armor. Should she use the skimpy dress photo from Vegas last year? Her legs did look pretty damn good. Or what about the duck face photo where she’s throwing up a peace sign? That’s cute, right? Or maybe the bikini pic from Hawaii last summer? She didn’t have the tan or the abs anymore, but that shouldn’t matter, should it? Finally, she settled on a slightly blurry photo of just her face, smirking, and wearing sunglasses. After all, it’d received 57 likes on Facebook.
Most of you are probably rolling your eyes right now. Why would she pick that photo? You would know better. But you’d be surprised how many bad photos are floating in the online dating abyss, garnering no attention, and certainly not any dates.
A few weeks into online dating, I asked how her progress was coming along. She said she’d received a few winks, but nothing major. I, ever the diplomat, said casually, “Remember the photo you posted on Instagram last week? You were on that hike, the sun was hitting your just right and your smile was so pretty! How come you don’t use that photo for your profile?”
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, hemming and hawing around the question. When I probed further, she finally revealed she had certain insecurities about her face (nose was too long, dark circles under her eyes, etc.), as though she were the only woman who felt less gorgeous than Heidi Klum. She thought if she hid those features from her photo, men might find her more attractive. She just forgot one thing: eventually she would have to meet those men in person.
We get so caught up in the idea of online dating, we often forget that it’s just a starting point. Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will go on dates offline. That means, whatever photos you select, or whatever words you post, the truth will be revealed over an awkward and uncomfortable dinner.
We all have insecurities. We all wonder if we’re pretty enough, interesting enough, tall enough, smart enough… But the truth is, we shouldn’t have to be someone we’re not in order to find someone. We should be ourselves, trusting that the right person will love us for all of our flaws as well as our admirable attributes. Sure, you may not want to choose a photo that highlights your receding hairline or scar, but don’t hide them because they’re a part of who you are. And please, please don’t use photoshop!
Bottom line: while crafting your profile, be honest. Don’t post a doctored or misleading photo or write what you think will attract more winks and emails. In the end, it’s not a contest to see who can go on the most dates, it’s about finding someone who fits you. And all it takes is one.
A few examples of photos not to use… hopefully for obvious reasons.