Your Dating Site Photo Probably Sucks (And Here’s How to Fix it…)

Online dating is breeding a new trend: tasteless, off-putting profile photos. As an avid online dater and social networker I’ve seen my fair share of misguided photos and I’ve decided as a public service I’m going to offer the digital universe a few fool-proof tips to help improve profile pics and dating opportunities. Constructive criticism is a good thing, people. Take heed.

Problem #1: Posing with an object

Dating Site Photo

Solution: Pose alone…full body or just a headshot and don’t have anything in your hands

In theory, it sounds like a great idea. All the most famous statues and paintings feature subjects posing with objects: an apple, a sword, a three-point buck, etc. Not so for dating site photos. A few of the more common picture-hogs I’ve come across are cars (we get it…you can afford a car, congrats), pets (one dog is cute…four cats is not), and some sort of trophy (if it’s not the actual Stanley Cup, it’s a bad idea.) The thing about sharing your photo with an inanimate object is that people instantly stop looking at you and start looking at the item – where did she get that? Why is it so important to her? Doesn’t that hurt? You want singles to notice you and your lovely smile not wonder why you don’t have enough confidence to take a photo solo. And if you absolutely must share the spotlight please, for the love of all things holy, don’t share it with your child. Babies are cute but also terrifying for many singles and they have no place on a dating site. Unless the site is

Problem #2: I’m Too Sexy for my… Everything

Put some clothes on

Solution: Dress like your mama’s watching

Ladies, this one goes out to you but, gentlemen, don’t think I haven’t noticed a disturbing rise in the number of high-cut jorts popping up on the webs. The simple message here is that dating sites are not porn sites. Nope, not even the soft-core kind. My rule is, if you wouldn’t wear it to a park or a family restaurant don’t pose in it for a dating site photo, Ms. November. The kind of singles who are enticed by a photo of you showing embarrassing amounts of side-boob or butt cleavage (if you don’t know what that is, Google at your own risk) are the types of singles you’re sick of meeting in real life. This doesn’t just apply to clothes, either. It’s equally disturbing when you’ve got that “come hither” look in your eye, well, the one eye I can see, staring at me from behind a curtain of flowing hair. Trying too hard isn’t sexy – it’s desperate – so if you’re not walking around in your everyday life looking like your dating site photo, something’s off. And if you are and you still relate to this paragraph, well, I think we’ve found your problem.

Problem #3: Too Artistic for Your Own Good

Don't be a hero

photo credit: Beard of Beez on Flickr

Solution: Beating a dead horse here but ALONE, NATURAL, HEADSHOT. That’s it.

Most dating sites do a pretty good job of weeding this kind of stuff out but social networking is a different story. If your profile photo is a cartoon, a black and white sketch of what you think you look like or for Pete’s sake, your “celebrity doppleganger” ur doin it rong. And don’t even get me started on Instagram. The whole purpose of profile photos is to show other singles what you actually look like – they’re not an extension of your profile information and they’re certainly not the best place to make a statement – keep it simple and about six levels less Emo than your gut tells you to. Photos that actually aren’t photos at all make a page of singles matches read like an Amazon CD Search for “David Bowie” so make it easier on everyone including yourself by being confident enough to really put yourself out there. And if you’re worried about security or anonymity, well, perhaps you shouldn’t be reaching out to strangers online.

Problem #4: Old Timey Photos are Best at the State Fair


photo credit: jimbeauphoto on Flickr

Solution: A photo taken since the advent of digital cameras would be nice…

Last but not least, let’s talk about the big pink elephant in the room. You’ve gained a few (hundred) pounds since college and you’re not as proud of your hair as you were before it, you know, went away. But here’s the deal: if you post a photo taken in 1997 and try to pass it off as recent one of two things is going to happen: The first is that people will notice it’s old and avoid you like the plague (which they assume you actually have since you’re hiding you’re real likeness) or they’re going to TOTALLYBUYIT! Which is all well and good until your first date when you show up and they either throw a drink in your face or phone-in the whole evening since they’re not attracted to you. Here me now, online daters: you are not unattractive. Someone out there will like the way you actually look…seriously. That’s the beauty of online dating – with millions of singles on the prowl you won’t be lonely long. The key is to be yourself and love will find you. What a novel concept, eh?

Online dating is all about being honest. There’s never been a dating format that makes it easier to hide some aspect of your personality or appearance and yet time and time again you hear about couples who only found each other once they started being brutally honest. The secret is, everyone’s a little nervous to put themself out there but in the end, you’ll look much worse trying to hide some nonexistent flaw than showing it off – it’s like putting a band aid on a severed arm (or some other more applicable, less gory metaphor.) Fix your photo and get more dates – it’s that easy – and if you’ve heard one thing I said, it should be that thing about butt cleavage. Oh wait, no, it should be to keep it simple. Yeah, that’s it.


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