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How to Choose a Photo for Online Dating Profiles

Updated on November 18, 2013

No Pic, No Chance

First let me just start off by saying it bluntly, if you have no pic on a dating website then your profile might as well not even exist. No one, and I do mean no one, looks at the profiles that have the default silhouette (the one that means no pic has been uploaded). Everyone skips these profiles and won't even read the information about you, no matter how great of a person you are. You can be a total package and they still won't bother even looking at what you wrote down about yourself. That is how important it is to post a pic.

A Bad Photo is Better Than No Photo At All

You might be thinking that you are far from attractive and that if anyone were to see your picture, they wouldn't date you. Newsflash: they will eventually see you anyway if you are serious about dating, so you might as well post it. A less than flattering pic of yourself will get people to browse your profile and find out what a great person you are instead of skipping over your entire profile entirely.

By simply posting any photo, you will get more people to look at your profile, and in turn someone might like what they find out about your personality. If you have no pic, you will be skipped over and not given the time of day. Also, it is better to let people see what you look like than imagine the worst.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see a profile with no photo? If you actually pay any mind to the profile at all, then you probably think that the person has something to hide. For example, their hunchback, google eye or snaggly teeth. It is far too easy to imagine the worst possible reason why a person chose not to include a profile pic. The majority of profiles without photos get completely skipped over by potential suitors or pushed to the very end of the dating site's search results. By the time someone has browsed all the attractive matches with profile pictures, they don't bother even looking through the pictureless profiles.

Worth a Thousand Words

When daters are looking for potential mates, they tend to focus, first, on the picture and whether they find the individual attractive, and then read the rest of the information in the profile. There are two things that the picture tells them. The first is how attractive you are in looks, and the second is your personality.

By personality, I mean facial expressions, clothing, background scenery etc. For example, don't ever show a cluttered, filthy room in the background of a dating profile pic. Nobody wants to date and outright slob. That is exactly what a photo taken in a dirty house screams—slob. Using a head shot with a natural expression on your face will eliminate the need to worry about any of that though.

Tips for Women:

Include photos that represent what you look like normally. Pictures where women have had makeover sometimes look overdone and as if you are trying way to hard. Can end up hurting you more than helping.

Tips for Men:

Spruce up your profile pics by letting another woman friend help pick out the best out of a selection of photos. Listen to advice from a woman's perspective on how to dress and the best look for the pic because it's coming from a different perspective

Women's vs Men's Efforts

Studies have shown that women tend to put in way more effort than men when it comes to preparing to post a dating profile pic. Some women go to the extreme of having a makeover and professional photographer take the pic. While this woman is simply wanting to look her best, she doesn't look like this everyday. Men on the other hand slap any picture they can find up whether it is flattering or not. This could turn out to be a good surprise for the woman who chooses to date him.

A valuable lesson that can be learned from this is that women should include some photos of how they look on a regular day-to-day basis in order not to be entirely misleading. Men should upload photos of better quality so they don't get overlooked for appearing slouchy or just too average.

What type of photo do you tend to put on your dating profile?

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Choosing the Photo: Dos


Show your real face. This is the main thing people want to see on a dating website is what you look like—the whole you. This means show your face along with those killer abs or double D breasts. People are interested in the person they are looking at, including the face. This means no absolutely ridiculous pictures of cartoon characters, cars, or pets. Most dating sites are ruling this out considering the purpose is to get a date based on your actual traits.


Take lots of photos and get a friend's advice or actually even a few friends' advice on which they prefer for a dating site. Sometimes another person's perspective helps tremendously.


Keep it simple. There is no need for busy backgrounds and clutter in the photo. You don't want to distract attention away from yourself. A smile goes a long way. People tend to overlook the negative aspects of your appearance if you have a great smile. If you have bad teeth, a closed mouth smile might suffice—but only if you want to disappoint your date in person when they find out you're missing half your grill.


Upload a Recent Photo. Nobody likes a Don't be a “has been”...We all looked better in college and in our 20's when we had nice body's and no signs of aging. Your date will eventually realize when they meet you that you aren't the same person of your younger years that they were expecting. This will be disappointing and you probably won't see the person again. There is nothing more irritating than meeting someone from a dating website in person and them not looking anything like what their dating photo. People are interested in what you look like now.

Choosing the Photo: DON'TS


Put up a group picture of you and your friends. People tend to be confused by these pics and you will have a hard time pointing yourself out in the limited caption space. Plus, your hot friends could draw the attention away from you.


Post a pic with an ex under any circumstances. This is the ultimate faux pas and you will never get a date with your ex hanging all over you in a dating profile pic. Don't attempt to cut the ex out either, because that is just lame. Get a new photo that has nothing to do with the ex. This is almost a guarantee that you will be passed over when people are browsing profiles.


Post pics with your kids. Yes, we know you love your kids but mentioning you have them in the profile is enough. There is no need to pose with them in the dating photo. Remember, this is about YOU and advertising yourself. Plus, some people are put off by dating profile pictures that have kids in them. The people browsing your profile are looking at YOU as a potential date, not your children.


Dress provocative. Please keep your clothes on in your dating photo. There are a couple of reasons for this. One reason is that nobody wants to be FORCED to look at you half naked, especially if they don't find you attractive. Secondly, there are other X-rated dating sites where those types of pictures are completely appropriate, however most legit dating sites wont tolerate nakedness of any sort. If the site does allow it, nude pictures can work against you because it could easily look like you are using your body as an advertisement for sex and sending the wrong message. It depends on if the site is “that kind” of site or not.

What does your picture say about you?

  • An overly posed photo that looks like it is from a professional studio is acceptable in America, however, in the UK they view it as being fake and trying to cover up your real look
  • Candid pictures of you enjoying hobbies are nice because they give insight into your personality, however, don't go overboard with posing for these shots because it could look pretentious. This is especially so if you don't even enjoy the activity you are posing for. Go after a natural picture of you doing something you enjoy doing.
  • Be careful when posing by expensive cars, yachts, and mansions. It looks too materialistic and can attract the wrong type of people---enter "gold diggers".
  • Taking a picture while you are out on the town in nice attire is one thing, but avoid shots that scream “lush”. Don't purposefully pose with a shot of jagermeister, look drunk or hungover because it might lead people to believe you are an alcoholic.
  • Soft focused or blurry pictures tend to create suspicions about what you are trying to cover up—wrinkles? Scars? Acne? People wont know, they'll just assume.

Hopefully these tips will help you rethink before posting a picture on a dating website. You wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about you or skip your entire profile completely. The whole point of a dating site is so that people can meet other real people who represent themselves according to who they really are.

© 2013 crissytsu


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    • crissytsu profile image

      crissytsu 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the vote and stopping by!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 5 years ago

      Hi Crissy,

      I agree with you 100 percent that if you don't have a picture no one is going to want to talk to you. for one, we are attracted to the looks for someone and for two, we want to make sure we are talking to who you say you are. overall, really nice hub. Voted up.