Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

7 Things Girls Need to Know About Picking An Online Dating Profile Picture

As I mentioned last week, I have (many, many) years experience as an online dater.  And so what I’m telling you I’ve learned from my personal experience.

No man is going to read your profile unless he thinks you’re hot.  Not even if you have a supercool user name and a great headline.  It’s just not going to happen.  Guys don’t work that way.   Yes, if you have a profile up without any pics at all, you might get a tiny bit of traffic.  A tiny bit.  But not much.  And depending on the site, maybe none at all.

So please don’t bother wasting your time writing a sassy little essay about yourself and what you’re looking for in a relationship until after you’ve figured out what pictures you’re going to use.  No, I’m not joking.  The pictures really are more important.  Really.

With that in mind I’ve prepared a list of 7 things that every girl/woman should know before she hits that upload button.

  1. You MUST use more than one picture.  At least one should show your face in close up.  At least one other should be a picture that shows most if not all of your body and not from 50 ft away.
  2. Use recent pictures.   Men want to know what you look like now, not 2 years ago (even if you looked better 2 years ago).
  3. Think twice about using the pictures of you and your kids or your nieces/nephews.  I hate to say it, but a lot of guys will be turned off by these.
  4. Don’t use the bridesmaids pictures.  Think about the potential image they may send (desperate to be a bride?).
  5. It’s not a good idea to include a picture of yourself in a bathing suit (even if you have an amazing body) unless you’re seeking a strictly sexual relationship.  You will get bombarded with messages from every sleazy guy online (heck, from every guy online).  Subtle is better.
  6. Try to make one of your photos an action shot; for example, a picture of you cooking or mixing a drink or playing cards (something relatively close-up).  This gives guys something to comment on when they write to you: “what were you drinking”, “what were you cooking”, “did you have a good hand”…  It may sound incredibly lame, but by doing this you’re actually making it easier for guys to contact you.  You’re giving them an easy opening line.
  7. There’s no need to show deep cleavage.  If that’s the way you always dress, fine.  But otherwise, put’em away.  Give the push up bra a rest.  You want to look like you, not your slutty sister.

Lastly, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to two sites that posted links to last week’s list for guys.  In turn, they each posted their own list:

Dare to Date 2009

MidLifeBachelor.com

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17 to “7 Things Girls Need to Know About Picking An Online Dating Profile Picture”


  1. Anonymous says:

    I like your list. I never really took online dating seriously? I dabbled here and there, but never a E-Harmoney or Match.com profile…lol. Maybe I should since it seems like that’s the way to go. =)
    http://www.singleinatl.com

  2. queenieNYC says:

    #6 – YES! I’ve noticed that guys comment – more often than not – on a shot of me making some shrimp dish. They freakin’ love it. Bizarre, but it works.

  3. bellaressa says:

    Great tips, thanks.

  4. SINgleGIRL says:

    -Anonymous (singleinatlantla)
    Online dating isn’t for everyone, I hear. It does take some patience and trial and error. Some sites are better in some cities than others/better for some demographics than others. For examples, there are people who swear by either Eharmony or Match.com but I’ve tried them both with nothing but disastrous results. I’ve had much better luck on other sites. My advice is to check out the pool of available guys in your area/demographic on all of the sites before settling on one to use or spending a dime.
    -queenieNYC
    Isn’t is funny how lame guys are with that one. I happened upon it by accident. I’ve used a couple of different action shots over the years and have found that when one of them is not in rotation my daily message rate goes down – even though the action shots are not the “prettiest” pictures. I get it though. It can be hard to know what to say in those opening emails. “Yum that looks good, what were you cooking.” is a giveaway.

  5. SINgleGIRL says:

    -bellaressa
    My pleasure, darling. Have a great weekend!

  6. Angellaellisha says:

    OMG, I love your advice. Online dating is kind of tricky. You should become a guest writer on my blog ;)

  7. MakesNooSense says:

    LOVE your site, love the list!! #5 and 7….I have a small waist but a bit of hips and booty. I wanted to make sure to show this so there was no surprise when meeting a guy (this was back when I was naive) so I put up a photo of me in a candy bra and sarong. It was from a Halloween party and the intention was to show that although I am a size 12 I do still think I have pretty good, curvy figure). UGH! The guys all acted like I was a whore. It wasn’t till one guy finally pointed out…why are you acting so demure when you have a ‘slut photo’ up? Got it, photo immediately taken down!

    Keep up the good work!! If you travel to Seattle…let me know!!! : )

  8. The_BORG says:

    All of my experiences with online dating makes me think that women want one thing and will not settle for anything less: rich, tall, dark & handsome…

  9. Online Dating says:

    Have you seen that nobody logs into Yahoo Chat these days..it’s all about social networking sites..Good Ole days..

  10. Anonymous says:

    That list couldn’t be better. As a guy I can tell you: It’s all true.
    I’ve been online dating for a couple of years now and I don’t get it when girls don’t post their picture. I mean, come on, it’s a dating site. It’s also true – I would give any girl the benefit of the doubt and email her even if she doesn’t have a photo posted. But after a couple of emails back and forth the photo is a must. I’ve had girls that responded “I want you to like me for what I am and not how I look”. Well, that can only mean two things: Either you are extremely ugly or extremely beautiful. If you are extremely beautiful this might be your way to keep the filth away and trying to find the real guy, but you are also risking to not getting an feedback at all.

    And you are right about the bikini photos. If you have a hot body, you won’t only be bombarded with messages from sleazy guys, it also keeps the interesting ones away, because they think that you are getting so many messages that you wouldn’t even read theirs.

  11. Shannia says:

    also ladies, if you’re plump or have extra weight, make sure to show a picture that shows that, because you don’t need to start talking to a guy that ends up being rude or mean to you once he sees you.

  12. derek7272 says:

    A couple tips not about photos but profiles. Anything with the formula, “I’m as comfortable in X as I am in Y” (jeans, a black dress) is such a cliche. Also, “I try to enjoy the city and all that it offers.” And saying “no players” or “no games” — to me, that is a bit standoffish, and I’m not really sure what it means.

  13. SINgleGIRL says:

    -Angellaellisha
    Welcome to the blog and thank you. Let’s talk.
    -MakesNooSense
    Thank you. I make the mistake of going a little too sexy in one of my pics (I quickly remedied, when I realized my mistake). They really will affect the responses you get and the way men think of you.
    -The_BORG
    Sorry darling, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve been on dates with two different men I met online so far this week and neither fit that descriptive. It’s a nice excuse, perhaps, but not the truth.
    -Online Dating
    Welcome to the blog. You know, I never like the chats. Never. So I can’t say I’m sad to see them die. Funny, though, how quickly things change.
    -Anonymous
    Thanks so much – you’re right. A person can get away with no pic for a short while (and sometimes that is a necessity because of a person’s profession) but those pics must be offered up in exchange pretty quickly.
    -Shannia
    Yes – but I think that that’s why it’s important to show a picture with your whole body, regardless of body type. Different men life different things. One man’s curvy is another’s fat. One guy’s thin is another’s scrawy. It’s just best to show who you are.
    -derek7272
    Well, yes. Men do lots of those wonderful annoying things in their profiles too. I’ll get to those eventually. One list at a time.

  14. browolf says:

    there’s a lot of people using self-taken shots with a mobile phone, those ones are typically the most misleading, especially from certain angles.

  15. SINgleGIRL says:

    -browolf
    I’ve never had an issue with those. Nor a complaint. Do some cameras distort the images?

  16. sfsingleguy says:

    I personally like the bridesmaids’ pictures; nothing wrong with a picture full of beautiful women smiling and looking great. It hasn’t ever crossed my mind about being desperate to be a bride, but I can see how someone might think that.

    I agree though with the pictures of nieces/nephews. If a guy is on the fence with regards to having kids, he is going to choose someone without said pictures.

  17. The_BORG says:

    SINgleGIRL, well, maybe up in your town it’s different, but where I am it appears that’s what all women want.