How To Improve Your Online Dating Profile Photos For Men and Women

I believe there is a lot more to attraction than physical looks, especially when women are evaluating men for attractiveness (men do place a large emphasis on physical looks in person and online, but that’s not the full story). So, I want to make this article fairly practical and explain how women and men both can make some simple changes to take and include better photos for your online dating profile.

woman thinking with computerFirst though, I want to explain the purpose of photos. When men evaluate photos, we are mainly looking at facial attractiveness, bodily attractiveness, and signs of availability (i.e. would she be into me). Men evaluate women’s profiles almost entirely on looks, and then we will (maybe) read the profile if we are looking for something more long-term and high quality. However, the good news is that guys find 60% of women attractive online.

Women, however, tend to want more from photos of guys. Yes, they want an attractive guy, but they want guys to show their personalities through the photos, which is why most women I know complain when guys only post selfies. Women want photos of guys doing things, mainly to show what kinds of worlds these guys inhabit, and what world these women would inhabit if they were to date them. Women are trying to gauge if the guys have a good social life, and are confident, kind, and interesting.  Since guys are often bad at taking photos (and just as clueless as to what constitutes good photos), this may explain why women find 80% of guys unattractive online (see the previous link).

Ultimately for men and women both, your photos should show the real, but best version, of you – the fun, open, and exciting person who loves life and wants someone else to share in it. If you follow this principle you’ll avoid posting ridiculously serious selfies (like a lot of men) and showing up as some kind of god or goddess (a tendency of most women) that nobody could ever dream of connecting with.

These general tips should help you use photos that will give you an edge online.

For Men

Not a bad looking guy, but this photo looks more “I’m staring into your soul” than mysterious. At least it’s professional looking.

The biggest thing men can do is to stop posting horrible photos (or at least stop posting only horrible photos). This includes avoiding mirror selfies, or even worse, mirror selfies where you look so serious that you look like a serial killer (I promise you that you don’t look like a superhero…you look like a killer).

Also, stop posting photos where you look like a total slob. And, a photo of you in jean shorts with an old T-shirt with the shoulders cut out is not a good look (i.e. you’re a slob).

Don’t rely only on selfies. In fact have a female friend help you take a few photos that aren’t only the product of your front-facing camera.

Instead, include photos that show your personality (and the best side of it!). If your photos convey that you’re a fun, confident, and successful guy, women will be far more likely to match with you, even if you’re not physically perfect.

Women love guys in suits, or at the very least dressed sharply. I suggest having a “business” head shot of some kind. This shows confidence and leadership, traits women love.

A great photo…good angle, in a suit, and the face is likely tuned a little.

Also, it’s a good idea to post photos of you doing fun and interesting things. Did you run a marathon? Post a photo from that. Do you play guitar with a band? Post a photo of that. Did you travel to a cool place? Post a photo of that.

I like including at least one photo with a pet (of you with a pet; not just the pet alone). This shows you like animals, and many women place a high value on that.

If you don’t have any photos that fit these categories, then go out and get some. If you don’t do anything fun, exciting, or that would add value to a woman’s life if she knew you, then you need to focus on that.

Also make sure the photos are high quality, i.e. in focus, cropped properly, and even slightly enhanced if necessary. Women love a guy’s eyes, and if you can highlight your eyes, that’s always a great look. Here’s a tutorial on how to make them “pop” in Photoshop. Some apps like Facetune can do this (and other tricks) on your phone (although it does cost a few dollars). Just go easy on this, because women are masters of using Facetune and will see through it if it’s overdone.

For Women

Having only photos like these (highly posed, stylized, showing traveling, etc) might be off-putting and intimidating.

Most women I know do a pretty good job with photos. You all know what we guys are looking for, which is why most female profiles have photos that make you look the best in terms of physical attractiveness. However, I’m going to give you a tip that will help you match with quality guys.

Many guys can be intimidated by your “perfect” photos. Many women’s profile photos these days are not only perfect photos physically (for example, they may choose the absolute best photo of 50 taken that day, but also Facetune the hell out of that), but they also show them doing all kinds of amazing things. This can be intimidating, especially to guys without supreme confidence, because they don’t think they have a chance.

Guess which guys often have extreme confidence? Yep. Players!

If you come across as almost inhuman, then it’s no surprise that players will flock to you because they too will gladly view you as inhuman.

Cute, ordinary, smiling, not heavily stylized. This is a great photo

So, it’s important to show your humanity, at least if you want a caring and kind guy. This involves showing your emotional availability. While a lot of women show their sexual availability through their photos (cleavage shots, bikini photos, etc – and while that may not be your intention, that is what guys are picking up, trust me), they aren’t showing a lot of emotional availability.

So, show yourself looking ordinary and being ordinary. Come across as less of a supermodel or Instagram influencer, and more of a person a guy would see shopping at a grocery store. Even if you aren’t classically physically attractive, many guys will love it if you seem normal and human. In fact many guys would rather not engage someone who only presents as physically perfect.

Also, avoid photos that aren’t of you. What’s up with inspirational sayings as photos? Or photos of just your pets? When guys see this they will assume you must look awful. Only the most creepy of guys will engage these profiles.

So, switch up those photos and you’ll find that your online dating prospects might start getting better right away!


About the Author

David Bennett

David Bennett

David Bennett is a relationship expert, and has been a dating and relationship coach for over 8 years. He is listed in the top ten personal coaches for 2019, and is the author of seven self-help books. He has been featured in over 400 publications and other media appearances, including The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Men's Health, Bustle, Prevention, and Woman's Day.

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