Dating Profile Pics: The Dos and Don’ts to Get You More Matches

Published: August 11, 2017 - 9:00am EDT

A happy couple

Anyone who has tried online dating knows how important your profile picture is to getting you matches. As online dating has evolved, so has the significance of the profile pic, as many dating apps like Tinder or Badoo allow users to easily approve or reject matches based simply on profile images. They don't even have to look at each other's bios. Even so, you might be wondering to yourself, “Hey, I’m pretty cute – so why am I never getting likes?”

Well, you may be surprised to learn that some of the things you’re doing might be dissuading people from wanting to match with you. There are quite a few things we can teach you on how to do dating profile pictures right. But we’re going to start out with the most helpful advice we can give, which is what you shouldn't do for a great dating profile picture.

What not to do in dating app profile pictures

  • A blurry, out-of-focus photo, especially one where your face isn't clearly visible.
  • A group photo where you are indistinguishable as the person looking to be matched.
  • Images of you with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.
  • An image of you doing something illegal.
  • A cliché photo, similar to others you’ve seen on dating profiles (which we’ll explain more about below.
  • An image of you in front of an expensive car, home, boat, or other item; this will usually be seen as you showing off.
  • A self-taken picture (a "selfie") in a bathroom; no one wants to see your toilet.
  • Images of you from more than 2-3 years ago. You may not want to admit it, but you’ve changed over that time, so accurately show off what you look like.

Alright, now you know some basic things to avoid when setting up a dating profile picture. Next, we’ve got proven advice on how to take good profile pictures that can help you get more matches on your preferred dating app or website.

Best practices for taking pictures for your dating profile

1. Stand alone – so potential matches can recognize you.

Smiling man standing along against a building

It’s always better to make sure you have at least one picture that shows you by yourself. It is okay to show yourself with others, but you certainly want to make it clear who you are if you have a group picture or two. To do that, you need to have a couple of pictures of yourself alone first, so that your potential matches can identify you.

It’s also better to just show you off – you aren’t trying to get matches for your friends here. And in general, a nice picture of you relaxing with your family is a better alternative to a picture of you out with your friends. Make sure the focus is always on you. The people looking at these pictures don’t know you, and to decide if they like you or not, it needs to be clear who you are.

2. Smile! You will look more genuine.

Woman smiling

Smiling is always a good idea in photos. If you have a range of photos, it’s okay to not be smiling in every single one. But in general, smiling will make you look more likeable and genuine. Remember that you’re dealing with strangers here, so the nicer and less-threatening you look, the more likely you are to get “likes” (and, hopefully, dates eventually)!

It’s also important that you never hide your face in your dating profile pictures. People will only like you if they can actually see what you look like. If many of your pictures have you covered up with a hoodie, or in the dark looking away, the person looking at you will feel like they don’t really know what you look like. And that probably will make them hesitant to go out and meet you.

Person in a hoodie taking a picture of themself

3. Show yourself in a variety of situations.

The more you can show off about yourself, the better. When you think about it, your dating profile picture is a visual opportunity to teach potential matches as much about yourself as you can. Not only will they get to see what you look like, but they can see what you look like doing the things you love. Try thinking of 2 or 3 hobbies you have, and then post some photos of you doing these things. From sailing to sports to baking, the possibilities are endless.

Woman rock climbing

Demonstrating what you like to do Try thinking of 2-3 hobbies you have, and post some photos of you doing these things. From sailing to sports to baking – the possibilities are endless. Not only will potential matches be more likely to want to interact with you, because they’ll feel like they know more about you than the person who posts multiple generic pictures of themselves.

In addition, they’ll also have something to talk about with you if they want to initiate a conversation. It’s much easier for them to come up with a good online dating opening line if they have a talking point to start with. And showing yourself off doing the things you love is a good way to get a chat going.

4. Keep it classy – and keep your clothes on.

Shirtless man posing on the beach

If you’re used to online dating, you’ve probably seen tons of pictures of men with their shirts off standing in their bathrooms, or women on the beach taking posed photos. These are incredibly cliché and not at all unique, so steer clear of that style. No matter how great your body looks, try to keep your clothes on. There will be plenty of time to show off your figure later, once you’ve connected with someone.

You’re much more likely to get matches on dating apps and sites if you keep your dating profile pictures classy and unique. Posting different versions of yourself shirtless or in a bikini is probably going to make your potential matches think you are vain and have little else to offer. They’d much rather see you doing something unique, smiling, and looking like someone they wouldn’t be intimidated to walk up to and start a conversation with.

5. Stay away from the bathroom mirror selfie.

Man taking a high-angled selfie

Hopefully, by now, most people know that self-taken photos (or "selfies," as they're more commonly known) are really unlikely to be liked by anyone on online dating sites or apps. This is especially true if they're taken in a bathroom or other generic setting. Posting a selfie makes it look like you didn't put much time or effort into building your dating profile, and that you don’t have many cool experiences to show off. You are much more appealing to people if they can see more than just the part of your face that fits in the front-facing camera screen of your smartphone.

On a similar note, make sure to avoid posting photos of yourself that are modified with goofy filter effects. Keep them where they belong: on the social messaging apps they come from, such as Snapchat.

6. Show yourself being active.

Man playing soccer

On many dating apps, photos of you doing something active are more likely to be liked than many other categories of photos. Sports photos especially tend to get a lot of likes, so if you have a favorite sport you play, make sure you get someone to snap a picture of you the next time you’re out doing it. You may think that a photo of you running around slightly sweaty in a uniform wouldn't be that attractive to online daters, but you’d be surprised.

It’s very appealing to see that a person you might be interested in has an active lifestyle. Plus, as we pointed out in tip 3, you might be able to bond with someone over mutually-enjoyed hobbies. You never know – your perfect match may play the same sports as you, and want to go out and play them with you, too. Whether your activity is soccer, parasailing, jogging, snowboarding, or anything else, be sure to show it off in the best way you can.

7. Try for some candid photos, instead of ones that are always posed.

Woman laughing

In line with tips 3 and 6, try to show yourself in a candid way, rather than always posting posed photos. Yes, you look flawless when you do a 45-minute photo shoot with your best friend to get that perfect shot… but you also look a little boring. Your potential matches may take a posed photo to mean that you have nothing better to show off than you sitting on a park bench with your friend’s shadow in the background.

Try looking for some candid photos of you smiling and just having a good time doing something you love. You’ll show off a lot more of yourself, and you'll give your potential matches an opportunity to see what you look like in an everyday setting. And really, that's how they'll want to see you if they decide to go out on a date with you.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help you attract a few more people to your online dating profile. Remember, above all, that it’s important to be yourself and represent who you really are; getting a “like” isn’t nearly as important as actually matching with someone and making a connection. But crafting good dating profile pictures will help you meet a few more people, increasing your options. Make sure you’re always staying safe while dating online, and try to be as real and genuine as you can with your photos – it’s guaranteed to get you more likes and matches.

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