Choosing the Perfect Online Dating Photos

With the rise of online dating websites and apps, the process of courtship had changed quite a bit over the past several years. In fact, research has shown that 1/3 of current marriages in the U.S are between two people who met online.1 As more and more people turn to apps, this number is on the rise. Navigating this space can be stress-inducing to those who have predominately met their partners in real life (IRL) in the past.

Using an online platform has many benefits, as you have access to a greater number of people in a shorter period of time. You can also reach out to those from other geographic locations and may be more likely to meet people who share the same interests and quirks as you. Online dating is also great for people who have busy or non-traditional work schedules and who can’t make social events for the purpose of finding a match.

While online dating certainly has its benefits, taking the first step and creating a profile can be anxiety inducing. One of the biggest sources of stress that people approach me with is the creation of their profiles. While many feel confident describing their likes and dislikes, what they want out of a relationship, etc., their greatest cause for concern is which picture(s) to select. Below are a few suggestions to help you pick photos, that will not only get you noticed online, but will allow you to represent yourself in an authentic way.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Many people are hesitant to post photos and put themselves out there. However, most dating sites note that profiles with pictures are more likely to receive clicks, though the percentage varies by site. If you remain a question mark or default picture on the site, people will think you have something to hide.

When selecting photos, it is imperative to put recent pictures up. Represent who you truly are! Don’t try to hide anything. You want to find people who like you for you. If you present one version of yourself in the photos and show up looking completely different, this may be a game changer. Any potential attraction people have to the real you may be eclipsed as a result of your deception.

Don’t Select Too Many or Too Few Photos

Variety is great. Posting several photos allows you to showcase different aspects of you as an individual. While it is beneficial to give people more of a glimpse into who you are, be careful not to get too carried away when selecting photos. Three – five photos is just right.

Negative images stand out more than positive ones. If you post 25 photos and one of them is unflattering, that picture will be more memorable than the other 24. A photo may be unflattering because it’s blurry, cropped poorly, or depicts you in a negative way (such as making an offensive gesture). Too many photos increase the time people spend scrolling through them and take away from what you’ve written in your profile.

Showcase You and What Is Important to You

Your pictures should capture your personality and what you hold dear. Your photos should also be a reflection of your interests.  If you are an animal person, select a picture of you and your beloved pet. If you value your ability to travel and explore new places, share some of your favorite vacation shots. You want people to understand who you are as a result of looking at your pictures.

When creating our profiles, we want to present an accurate version of ourselves and represent our unique personalities. While I provided you with some photo best practices, remember that your pictures are just one aspect of your profile. You should be open and honest in your text as well. Be sure that your profile demonstrates who you are and the type of person you want to attract. This will help others learn more about you, and in turn, enable you to select better potential matches.

Parts of this article are excerpted from Marisa’s previous posts on Psychology Today and JLife.


1Cacioppo, J. T., Cacioppo, S., Gonzaga, G. C., Ogburn, E. L., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2013). Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues. Proceedings of the  National Academy of Sciences110(25), 10135-10140.

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