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So you want them to see your inner beauty?

I detest having my picture taken so when it came time to put a picture on my profile I used two that I already had scanned in. This way, I reasoned, I didn’t have to pose for a new one. One of the pictures was my black and white health club ID (taken from a table top camera ? the angle of which made my nose look huge) and the other one was of me in a baseball hat taken from quite a distance away (so you really couldn’t see my face) and so small that there was no way you could blow it up and get a good look at me. When I showed my mom the two pictures she stared at them for a minute and then said, “So you want these guys to see your INNER beauty?”

Profiles with pictures get read and reviewed many more times than profiles without them. It may seem like a superficial thing at first, but most times you will scan through pictures to see which ones you are attracted to before you even read their profile. Pictures give you a sense of who the person is, and not just what they look like. With a picture you can get a “vibe” about the person, get a feel for if they are silly or serious, if they are a neat dresser or an outright slob.

Posting a picture on your profile is an important step, so don’t skip it. I would also recommend waiting until your picture is physically posted on the site before you start emailing people yourself. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, if you’re new to the online dating scene, you will immediately become more comfortable when you see pictures of others who are using the site as well. It gives you a sense that you are not alone in wanting to e-date. You’ll also get an idea of what types of people are out there to meet. While a picture is just a first step, an initial scan of potential dates should immediately put you at ease. You will likely find that the pictures on the site are of regular, seemingly nice, normal people ? like yourself. The first time one of my friends sent me a link to an online dating site I was struck by how many of the guys seemed like people I might meet anywhere. While this is exactly the case, the first time you are using the Internet to date it might seem odd that there are actual regular people behind those smiling photos.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting that you judge a person by his photo alone. My reason for bringing up the picture part of the process is that if seeing the photos of potential dates will put you at ease then that same line of thinking will apply to someone viewing your photo. Imagine reading a profile of someone that seems great, but has no photo. Doesn’t it put you off a bit? Doesn’t it make you feel as if that person is trying to hide something? Of course, that same thing will apply to your profile. Don’t think that someone is going to ask you out by picture alone, but give them the best presentation of yourself by including something they can visualize as they read about you.

Now, having said that, of course it goes without saying that you can’t judge someone by picture alone. But I’ll say this anyway. Use the pictures on someone’s profile as yet another method of finding out about them. They’ll help you get a feel for the person, and in Internet dating this is very important.

One of the emails I received was from a guy that seemed to have a great personality with his emails, but his pictures were not of someone I immediately found attractive. His hair looked fuzzy, he didn’t smile very wide, and he looked much older than his 30 years. Still, he looked like a regular, sweet guy, and he was very polite and funny via email. When we finally exchanged phone numbers he always called exactly when he said he would.

When we finally agreed to meet, I was surprised to find a great looking man in front of me. I was immediately attracted to him. The hair that looked so fuzzy on his picture actually had a nice curl that was shaped in a great cut. In person his smile was sincere and engaging. After spending some time with him I found that his sense of humor was terrific, and that slight smile would often come across as a very cute smirk. In person he looked exactly the age he was, and acted like a gracious and charming guy. We went out for quite a while, and although in the end he wasn’t the right one for me, I wished him the best and think of him fondly. And so it goes, pictures have a certain importance that goes along with the total package you will present to someone.

For the photo you will use on your profile, I would recommend having a friend take a picture of you with the intention of using it especially for your online account. If you don’t have the ability to get a digital picture taken many sites will scan a picture in for you; all you have to do is send it to them. Remember to smile, wear clothes you would normally wear (don’t dress up in an evening gown or a suit if you are normally a tee shirt and jeans person), and make sure the picture is a good likeness. You want to give the viewer a sense of who you are, and also give them a way to easily recognize you if you both decide to meet.

Pictures are an easy way to let someone know exactly what you might be like, so don’t even think about not putting a picture on your profile. I came across some people that wouldn’t put their picture on their profile but gave it “upon request.” This gives the impression that you are too good to put your photo out there, even though you yourself are probably emailing people with photos. I received a couple emails from guys that wanted to know all about me but didn’t have a photo on their profile. I told them that since they could see my pictures (albeit my bad ones) it was only fair that I should see theirs. Someone hiding their photos to me indicates they are hiding from something in general.

Make sure any photo you use is of just you and you alone. I noticed men more than women seemed to have photos with other people in them, and then would say something in the profile like, “I’m the guy in the middle.” One of the guys I corresponded with for a while had a picture with him and his entire family. He pointed out which one he was but I also found my eye wandering to the guy next to him ? his extremely handsome brother. Don’t make a viewer work to figure out which one you are.

Along the same line, do not just take a picture of you and your ex, cut your ex out, and post that as your profile photo. I came across several guys that had a wonderful picture of them happy and smiling and some lovely feminine arm cut out from around them. Tacky. On several cropped photos you could see the remnants of blonde hair from the female that had been cut out of the picture, and outfits that suggested a wedding or other type of special event. One guy even said the picture was of him and an ex but since they were great friends now he thought it was okay to keep the picture of them together in tact. This gave me the impression that if he can’t even separate himself in a photo how can he do that in a relationship. No matter how great you look in all those photos with your ex, don’t use them as your introduction to what could be a potential mate. Have a new picture taken of who you are now, when you’re ready to meet someone new.

Posting your picture with someone else is a bad idea in general, even if the person isn’t someone you used to date. One guy I came across posted a photo with him and three other female friends. This gave me the impression that he had only female friends (and therefore something was wrong with him), he was gay (and hadn’t figured that out yet), he couldn’t get along with guys (and so there was something wrong with him), or that he just couldn’t smile unless surrounded by breasts (and again, something was probably wrong with him.) Internet dating can lend itself to enough questions you might wonder about someone before you meet them, don’t add to it by complicating the present situation if you don’t need to. Keep all friends out of the photo ? no matter who they are.

Some guys I knew put a picture of themselves and a friend’s kid. Another bad idea. Hey, we get that you are trying to show the world how super cool you are and that you love kids, but posing with them just seems too obvious and desperate. Even if you have kids I wouldn’t recommend placing them in the photo with you. There will be plenty of time to have a new flame get acquainted with your children, don’t put them on display in your profile. Even when you’re just proud of your kids and want to show them off – don’t place them in the in the picture with you.

While I don’t have kids yet myself I was very open to dating someone that did. Still, one guy I dated had four very young kids, and while he mentioned this in his emails he did not put them all in the picture. I was glad he didn’t. I could not imagine me scanning through profiles and seeing him and all four kids in one photo. This would have admittedly put me off a bit, and I think I would have been intimidated by even the thought of dating someone with that many young ones. After we dated a while I got a chance to meet all of them, and found them all quite wonderful. He allowed me to get comfortable in our relationship first before even thinking about the prospect of becoming an instant step-mom to such a large brood.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

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Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach is the author of two books of poetry, The Difference Now, and A New Dish, as well as At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. She is currently working on her first novel and resides in Wisconsin with her husband.

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