At some point after becoming unexpectedly single in your 40s, you will make an assessment of those that surround you and realise that they represent limited potential to either personally end your singledom, or happily accompany you to the kinds of events and locations that might change your status. At some point, I guarantee you will dabble in online dating. If you do, the first trap for young players is the profile photo.
It’s likely that everything you know about posting photos online you learned from facebook. You may think that you are already adept at identifying the best photos of you. After all, you learned in a nanosecond how to untag yourself from an unflattering photo and shortly thereafter unfriend the person responsible if you are the type to take a zero tolerance view of such infractions. You may have a Kardashian-esque mental shortlist of the instagram filters that are flattering to the flaws that traumatise you the most. These are entrée level skills only.
Rookie mistakes to avoid when considering photos to accompany your profile on an internet dating site include:
One – any photo that involves a bathroom mirror.
This suggests that you have not even grasped the basic ability to manage the outstretched arm selfie that has become one of the key life skills of this decade. Bathroom lighting is almost universally harsh and will give your skin the hue of the undead. Worse, it reeks of ‘lonely woman who lives with her cats/desperate man with an obsession for online war games’ (a bit of errant instagram hashtagging on my part revealed there are legions of the latter, but that’s a story for another day)
Why? There should be another human being in your life that either has a suitable photo of you or can take one. Find that person.
Two – a photo from your time as a couple, with your ex chopped out.
This is a catastrophe in the making. Let me tell you how the female view of this one is likely to go….
Oh – he’s put in a photo with a girl cut out of it…that must be his ex….look how happy he looks…bet he misses her….*notices decorations* its at a new years eve party…if that was last NYE its only three months ago…is he over her yet????….I’m not someone’s transition girl *indignant huff* <DELETE>
Oh – he’s put in a photo with a girl cut out of it…that must be his ex….he’s smiling with his mouth but not his eyes…..god she must have made him so unhappy… baggage….I’m way too exhausted to deal with someone with baggage…… <DELETE>
Oh – he’s put in a photo with a girl cut out of it…that must be his ex….look at her arm, I wish I had arms like that, she must have been a gym junkie or just have those naturally slim/athletic arms…I hate my arms….how can I compete with that….*throws self on bed in unrelated hormonally-induced sobfest* <DELETE>
Three – photo with inattention to setting
After looking at you, the universally human trait of attention deficit means we will look at what else is in the photo. If, at your peril, you ignore rule one, there will be a close study of your bathroom and all its accoutrements. Again, a female will look at the brand of aftershave you use and drive the iphone zoom to within an inch of its life to identify any feminine product. The state of shower screen cleanliness / whether the towels complement the décor / a bin overflowing with discarded tissues and razors will mean you are immediately judged somewhere on the spectrum of house-trained vs frat-house.
Don’t post a photo that also includes your hotter/skinnier friend. No one needs unnecessary competition.
It might sound obvious, but disregard any photo where inspection of the setting will reveal that you are at a funeral or at your own wedding. If I need to point this out, you might need a little more time before you start interacting with people again.
Four – really, really distant photo
This is the online equivalent of taking advantage of someone firmly in the grasp of the 3am beer goggles. Just as beer goggle gorgeousness doesn’t bear the scrutiny of daylight, all will be revealed the first time internet daters meet. Worse, when you meet you will be stone cold sober, you’ll have already paid some big time bucks for city parking and alerted your friends to the arrangement as standard stalker prevention protocol (aka internet dating security rules) and then its all kinds of awkward.
From really really far away I look like Jennifer Aniston. Get within 100 metres, not so much.
Five – failing to give it your best shot.
Don’t choose a photo that is vaguely unflattering on the basis that you want the setting to tell the viewer something about you. You might hope that upon seeing that Balinese sunset your appreciation for the beauty of nature resonates to the very depths of his soul, but if it’s the one where you have only just become vertical after three days of Bali belly and you haven’t had the strength to apply makeup, its probably not the best bet.
Don’t expect them to dismiss a dodgy photo and think you’ll look better in real life.
Finally, have someone else sanity check your selection. The below? Might meet above criteria. Was never going to be ok.