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Dating profile photos that work

dating, online, digital love, relationships, fifi

If you’re using a dating profile app, you’ve noticed that people swipe first and ask questions later. What people notice first online is your photo. Think of it as your hook, just like the chorus of that song everyone loves. As shallow as it may be, no one is going to notice how much you love Thai food, or whether you’re a cat person or dog person, if your picture turns them off.

Your profile photo doesn’t have to be a professional shot, or taken by another person. Everyone who’s ever taken a selfie knows the painstaking process of finding the perfect angle that doesn’t make you look like you have a big nose or a double chin. It just needs to be an accurate representation of the way you really look, so that no one will think you’re catfishing them when you meet for your first date.

There are a few rules that matchmakers and successful users of dating apps agree on, and the most important one is that the photo should be no more than two years old. Everyone’s look changes over time, even if you don’t feel you look any different from how you did in 2012. And for the sake of those who like hair of a certain color or length, make sure your hair in the picture and your current coiffure aren’t drastically different.

“Your profile photo doesn’t have to be perfect, but it needs to be accurate,” says Adriana, a friend of fifi who finds dates on Tindr every week and has yet to settle down, simply because she’s having too much fun. “I went on a date with one guy who used a picture from the year 2005, which he admitted after we were already at the coffee shop. His hair is significantly less dark now, which wouldn’t have bothered me if he had been honest about it. I like a silver fox, but I’m not into dishonesty. We didn’t have a second date because I figured if he was pretending to be a much younger guy then he was probably not honest about other things.”

Adriana continues: “The picture on my profile is from a beach vacation, but I’m not posing in a bikini, I’m wearing a sundress. My hair is wavier than I normally wear it from drying in the sun after a swim, but I’m still a brunette with long hair. I’m in the sunlight, I’m smiling, and the picture is just six months old.”

Jenny, a friend who just got engaged to a guy she met online, has similar advice. “I took a selfie before I went out with the girls one night when I thought I looked cute. That picture sat on my phone unused for almost a year before I started using a dating app. My best friend helped me pick a photo for my profile. I’m in natural light. My makeup isn’t too heavy but it’s a little darker for night, like it would be on a date. My dates all said they were relieved to find out I looked like my picture. And the man that I’m going to marry told me he liked that I wasn’t trying too hard, but I looked nice and put together. So did he, by the way. He was one of the only guys whose picture looked like it was from the past year or so.”

It turns out that what guys like in a picture and what women like are pretty similar. You don’t have to look like Ryan Gosling, dudes, if that’s not actually how you look. Women—and men—don’t want you to pretend to be 30 when you’re 40. Make sure they can see you clearly and that you look approachable.

In short, who you are in the photo should be who your dates are going to meet.