I admit, I have an online dating profile on several dating sites. Yes, my wife knows.
No it’s nothing weird or kinky. In order to continue to provide you with the best and most current dating advice, I need to know what’s going on out there in the wild world of online dating.
Sure, I’ve got plenty of personal experience from my own dating journey (not that long ago), but it’s really easy to forget, or block out, those “fun” times I spent scrolling through hundreds of profiles to find the one or two that actually grabbed my attention. So yes, I’m on some of the biggest and most popular sites (with no photo), so if you message someone and don’t get a response, I apologize in advance if it was me.
I recently decided to take a look at the matches that one of the free online dating sites sent me. There were 45 online dating profile photos on the page in front of me. A virtual smorgasbord of potential first dates to pick from.
No one has the time or patience to click through to 45 individual profiles. When I saw the page of profile photos I was initially overwhelmed. I needed to filter through all those photos as quickly and efficiently as possible to find the ones I might be interested in.
Pay close attention to what I did next, because it is exactly what practically every other man will do in the same situation. You need to understand this in order to persuade a man to click on your photo instead of the other 44 vying for his attention.
What about the online dating profile photo caught my attention?
As I scanned the photos one thing caught my eye and grabbed my attention: a smile. Any photo without a smiling woman was immediately disqualified. It wasn’t premeditated. It was just a gut reaction I had.
When I spent a moment thinking about it I realized that as a single man looking for a date, I don’t want someone who’s going to bring me down or make my life more complicated than it already is. I want someone who I can have fun with. Someone who’ll make me happy. The ladies that were not smiling registered in my subconscious as downers. The smiling ladies screamed, “hey, I’m fun and can make you happy!”.
That’s not to say that after clicking on a photo and investigating a bit further I would have potentially dated each smiler. But one thing is clear: I did not pay any attention to the non-smiling photos. They didn’t get the chance to impress me with their other profile photos or essays. I skipped right over them.
How to Grab a Man’s Attention with your Profile Photo
If you want to grab a man’s attention and get him to click on your photo you’ve got two choices.
1. Wear a bikini and show off your smokin’ body (or other imaginative and seductive poses that highlight your assets). Even if you have what it takes to make that work for you, I can think of a few good reasons why, if you’re looking for a serious relationship, you shouldn’t. I’ll give you those reasons in an upcoming post.
I’d go with the smile every time. It tells a man you’re happy and fun. That’s what men want in a date. You’ll have lots of opportunities to drive him crazy once you’re in a relationship.
Your goal now is to persuade the guy to pick your photo out of dozens or hundreds (thousands??) of others and click on it to learn more about you. My simple male mind advices you to smile.
Here’s what I did after clicking on a particular profile photo.
Remember, the reason what I’m telling you here is valuable is because my actions reflect the average man (well, maybe a little above average!) out there, who you might be interested in dating.
I clicked on a photo of a woman with a really nice smile and pretty face and came to her profile page. Different dating sites have different layouts but the basic idea is the same: your profile page has photos, username and basic stats, and answers to questions or essays.
The ONLY thing I noticed on her profile page were her photos.
That’s really all I cared about initially. I didn’t look at her age, height, religion. I certainly didn’t even think about scrolling down to see if she wrote anything witty or enticing. My sole mission was to see her full-sized photos.
“See” is really the wrong word. I analyzed each of her photos as if I was a CSI team member on a high profile murder case. I scrutinized every part of her body (at least those parts I could see) for any clues regarding weight, skin tone, body type, and aging. As soon as I found enough negative evidence (based on my personal standards and expectations) I left the page without bothering to even look at any of the words on the page.
Some of you are in shock, disgusted, enraged by my actions. How can I be so superficial? There’s so much more to a person than her appearance in a photo, right?
Here’s the deal: my mission is to give you an exclusive glimpse into the mind of the single man, and that’s what I’ll do at all costs. You can ignore this information or use it to your advantage. It’s your choice.
Men decide to contact or pass over a woman’s online profile based primarily on her photos.
Only if they’re attracted to the images they see will they bother to read what she’s written. Many men will make contact without ever reading a single word. If they like what they see, they’ll pursue.
Getting back to my own experience, many of the photos I saw had major flaws which turned me off and made me move on to the next profile.
Here are a few dating profile photo flaws I noticed:
1. The subject of the photo was so far away from the camera, I could really make out how she looked. That told me that she’s either trying to hide something about her appearance or she’s just really clueless. Either of those reasons was a no go for me. Next.
2. There were two women in the photo and I couldn’t tell which one I’d be contacting. In one case the other woman in the photo (I could tell based on other photos) was actually prettier than the profile subject. Why should I go out with her when I can try to go out with her better looking friend?
In any case, I don’t have time to start figuring out who the real date is. I’ve got dozens of profiles to analyze. So I’ll just give up and move on.
Your main online dating profile photo should be of you alone, not you and your ex (or current) squeeze, or you and your best friends who happen to be better looking than you. You want it to be absolutely clear that it is YOU who is ready and waiting for your soulmate.
3. Blurry photo. Bad lighting. Hard to see anything. Too much trouble. Next!
Your main online dating profile photo should allow someone to actually see you. That means you shouldn’t be standing a mile away, behind a tree, or with your back facing the camera. If someone needs a magnifying glass to see you, they’ll pass and move on to the next prospect.
Find someone with a decent camera who has a clue about photography to take your photo. Your old cellphone camera is probably not going to give you the best result. In fact, it might make you look really bad. So will photos taken with really bad lighting or with you or the photo taker moving around.
Many conscientious soulmate searchers have their photos taken by professionals. While that is certainly advantageous, I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity as long as you have someone with a decent camera who can take decent photos. If you don’t, or you’re not sure, then spring for the professional photos and be sure that you’ve done your very best.
Now, I’m not saying that a hip, artistic, professional can’t make you look good. I’m sure they can. But if you don’t have, or feel like, spending the money, you can do fine on your own.
One more thing. I’ve read articles and pitches by online dating experts who claim to be able to vastly improve your chances of online dating success by creating usernames guaranteed to attract men. In my humble male opinion, this is nonsense.
Men couldn’t care less about your username, so don’t waste your money. Men care about your photos, period. After you start dating all the other stuff will become important, but for the initial online attraction and contact, it’s all about your photos. If you’ve got some money to invest, you should apply it to getting great photos and enhancing your physical appearance.
BTW — No, I didn’t contact anyone on the dating site!
How many online dating profile photos should you post?
The last thing I want to discuss on this topic is regarding the number of photos you should post on your online profile.
I viewed several profiles out of my 45 matches. Most had, on average, five photos posted. Of those five, at least one was usually less than flattering. Do you think I did the logical calculation and decided that since four out of five photos were winners I’d give her a shot and hit the contact button? NOT A CHANCE.
I did what most men would do when faced with a similar situation. I clicked the back arrow in my browser to try my luck with the next profile.
There’s no requirement to post more than one online dating profile photo. Unless you’re 1000% certain that a photo brings out the best in you, don’t post it. If you’re not sure, don’t post it. If you need a second opinion ask someone who you’re sure will be totally (brutally) objective and honest.
There was one profile I clicked on that really got my attention. She had only one photo posted. It showed her from the midsection up. She looked professional, put together, confident, and she was smiling. There was very little skin showing, but I could tell that she was relatively thin and in good shape. Most importantly, she had a really nice smile. I’m guessing that a professional took the photo.
Now, the reality is that I might not have been attracted to her from the waist down, and had she posted other photos that showed more of her I might have passed on moved on. But she didn’t.
She gave me enough in that one photo to calm my fears and feed my curiosity and imagination just enough to make me want to contact her (even without reading her essays or analyzing her username!).
Guys have amazing powers of imagination. Let them run wild! Some of the other women I viewed could have done the same with their primary photo, but they chose to post additional photos that messed things up.
Is it unethical to hide certain online dating profile photos of yourself?
Aren’t you obligated to give a man every possible piece of information about yourself so that he can make an educated decision? No and no. As long as you are posting an authentic and current profile photo of yourself, you’re on firm ethical ground.
But are you setting yourself up for disappointment when he actually sees you in person?
I don’t think so. Here’s why:
1. He might actually like what you thought you needed to hide.
2. You might look much better in real life than you do in photos (I hate the way I look in photos!).
3. Your impression of yourself might be a lot worse than the way others see you. You might look in the mirror and grimace while other people are looking at you and saying, “WOW!”.
Photos are the single most important element of your online dating profile. Men will either click or not click on your profile primarily based on the photo they see. So make sure to post only your very best photo(s) to spark his imagination and persuade him to contact you.
For tips regarding the written portion of your profile, click here.