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The best online date profile pictures to include and some to avoid

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My friend Marc — a single dad my age — and I like to share dating war stories.

Recently, he giddily kept me posted on the pre-first-date chemistry he shared with a woman he met online.

“Extremely promising,” he texted me. “We talk every night on the phone and it is frightening how much we have in common. I hope I don’t screw it up.”

Fast forward a few days: “She was much larger in person than her online pics lead on. Not gonna happen.”

Because he’s a nice guy, Marc’s telling of the scenario was polite. I’ve heard the same story — usually not as kindly — from lots and lots of guys.

Then there is the issue of whether or not the pics are actually real. eharmony stands out among dating apps because each dating profile is verified as real, with real profile pics. Read more in our eharmony review. 

Ready to create your dating profile? Get my tips:

10 photos not to post for online dating

These are no-nos:

  1. Yourself with other men. Especially really hot men.
  2. Yourself with a bunch of women. Especially really hot women.
  3. Yourself and a bunch of people — which one is you? Hard to tell, confusing.
  4. Yourself and the baby tiger. Everyone does it, but you should not.
  5. Yourself and babies that are not your own. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but also seems manipulative.
  6. No car shots. Skip the pic taken lounging on your Honda — or even your Porsche.
  7. The bathroom mirror selfie.
  8. The photo with your ex cropped.
  9. The photo that is a bit too revealing.
  10. You having too good a time at a bar.

You don't want to make someone's red-flag list if there were to run a background check on you!

The 4 online dating photos you should include in your profile

Online dating site Zoosk conducted some research about what kind of pics attract the most attention from men.

  1. A closeup.
  2. A full-body shot.
  3. Natural — opposed to professional — shots.
  4. Sports (keep reading for more details).

Need help with your whole profile? 12 dating app templates

How to choose the best online dating photos

Are you wondering “what pictures should I put on my dating profile” or “what are the best photos for dating apps?”

Ask your friends.

Ask members of the gender you are seeking to date.

Follow these profile picture ideas!

Tips for taking good online dating profile pictures

  1. Full body shots. Include at least one.
  2. Wide, open, natural smiles!
  3. No hats. Both men and women were less likely to be attracted to others wearing headwear. Same with shades: no sunglasses. In other words, don’t hide — let him see you!
  4. Sports, apparently. Zoosk: “People wearing a jersey, t-shirt of their favorite team, or sports outfit in their photos get 32% more incoming messages and 17% more responses.”
  5. Vacation shots are good. Softball for a conversation starter, plus you look fun and probably relaxed.
  6. Natural snapshots. Maybe you want to include a professionally taken headshot that you love, but be sure to also include a more natural snapshot that shows you as you are.
  7. Get a closeup: In a recent survey, 53% of men said that the first thing they notice about a woman’s profile picture is her eyes. Then, 32% of men said they notice a woman’s body, 12% said her hair, and 3% said they notice a woman’s lips.
  8. At least 4 pics. More photos = more responses and longer conversations, per Zoosk.
  9. Get the gear: Step up your photo game with good lighting (like this ring light I actually swear by) and this clip-on lens to give your iPhone camera that professional edge.

How to take good selfies for your dating profile 

You don’t need someone else to take a pic of you for your dating profile. Here, learn how to take good selfies for your dating profile: 

Tilt your head. Taking a photo of your face straight-on can make it look wider than it really is. Try tilting your head slightly, keeping your chin down and your camera up. A selfie stick can make this much easier. 

Be yourself. The more natural your selfie looks, the better. A smile goes a long way toward making you look warm and easy-to-talk-to. 

Find the right backdrop. Outdoor backdrops are a lot more compelling than indoor shots, so pass on the bathroom selfie. Instead, head outside and photograph yourself in nature or in front of some beautiful architecture. 

Step into the light. Bye, bye, dark, grainy selfies. This clip-on selfie ring light, compatible with most smartphones, has a variety of flash options to help enhance selfies. It also has a wide-angle lens so you can capture your background, whether it’s a cityscape or natural landscape. 

Use filters sparingly. Remember: You want to look like yourself, so don’t go overboard with filters and editing. That said, the Afterlight app allows you to lightly edit pics and add soft filters for a dreamy yet still natural-looking effect. 

Upgrade your camera. The perfect selfie starts with the right equipment. The newest iPhones and Androids have great cameras that make taking high-quality selfies a cinch. Check out the iPhone 12 and Google Pixel 5

Take advantage of portrait mode. Newer iPhone models have portrait mode, which is very useful for selfies. Here’s how to take the best selfies in portrait mode:

  • Head outside. Portrait mode doesn’t work that great in areas without a lot of light. So go outside for best results. 
  • Stand back. To use portrait mode, you must be two to eight feet away from the camera. Use a selfie stick to find the right distance from your camera. 
  • Choose the Studio Light setting. Portrait mode comes with six lighting options. Studio Light is the best for selfies because it brightly lights your face and slightly blurs busy backgrounds. That means all the focus is on you. 
  • Edit the photo. Once you’ve taken a selfie you’re happy with, it’s time to edit. Hit the edit button in the top right-hand corner of your photo to adjust the background blur (you can make it stronger or weaker), then you’re good to go. 

Practice, practice, practice. One of the best ways to get the perfect selfie for your dating profile? Take tons of photos. The more you practice taking selfies, the better you’ll get at it. 

20 Tinder bios for guys: Best profile examples

What your online dating pictures say about you (and why you should post honest photos)

Pics posted online depicting a woman who is much smaller than the one who walks — shockingly, 30 lbs heavier — into a bar.

She’s a great girl, really nice, but, uh … well … yeah. Not so much.

Related: reviews of Elite Singles, Bumble, Tinder, Adult Friend Finder, — and all about how to work with a matchmaker.

On the one hand, what are you thinking? Of course people lie in their online dating profiles every day of the week: Men say they’re younger and richer.

Omissions of children and spouses — not to mention STDs and bad breath.

But suggesting you are much smaller than you actually are is the dumbest lie in the world — the jig is up the second you walk into the Starbucks.

I know exactly what you tell yourself:

a) “Those  pictures really are me, so it’s not a lie.”

b) “Dating profiles are advertising, and advertising always shines the most flattering light on a product.”

c) “He just gets to know me and then he’ll fall for the real me — which has nothing to do with how I look.”

Read: Which online dating sites should moms use?

a), b) and c) … all lies you’re telling yourself, sweetie.

A pic from 5 years ago is a lie, no matter what.

Yes, you should depict yourself in the best possible light, but the SEC has laws against misleading advertising for a reason.

Re: c), He’ll learn to love the real me. My soul.

Real life: your looks have everything to do with how a guy feels about you.

I don’t make these rules. Men are far more visually driven than women for all kinds of anthropological, biological and cultural reasons.

Just accept that. Yes, there are times when men fall in love with a woman who is completely not his physical type because her beautiful soul shined so brightly that it blinded him to her overt physical shortcomings.

But that is not likely to happen when his first impression is that you are a liar who wasted his perfectly good happy hour with your manipulation.

All this is reason enough to keep things real.

But wait! There’s even more!

How to write a dating profile bio

Never post fake dating profile pictures

Just, don't.

First, it is just dishonest and puts bad mojo into the universe.

Second, you will get busted eventually and it will be so embarassing.

Third, you might get flagged and banned from dating sites — eharmony, for example, verifies each profile for fakes.

Finally, never post fake profile pictures because you could really hurt another single person looking for love.

Post honest dating pics for feminism

Yeah, men can be pigs. Check out this online message a 35-year-old software developer (with cute pics) sent me:

Your profile is awesome, but I don’t think I’m at a point in my life where I can get involved with someone who has kids. I hesitated to write this, since I could have just said nothing, but decided to write you as encouragement. You’re foxy, and your profile is foxy, too.

He then offered to give me a guy’s POV on my profile, to which I gladly accepted.

You look slim and in good shape, but aren’t showing your body at all. Crass, I know, but even dudes who are down with kids want to know you’ve still got it, so show it off.

‘Nuff said. [I then added a couple full-body shots to my profile, and thanked him for the tip. Radio silence. Maybe he found me too big to bother to reply?]

Now, I get that you’re not feeling good in your body.

You’re lonely and you know very well that few men like very heavy women.

I sympathize with women who find it hard to meet men — even online — for this reason.

If you live in a big market like I do — New York City — there are so many people, and so many classically beautiful people.

How can you connect with a guy in person when they won’t even click on your profile pic?

Misleading a guy into dating you isn’t the solution.

In fact, posting online dating misleading photos only perpetuates the societal message that only thin chicks are datable.

While there are so many unrealistic expectations of women to maintain a certain body type, lying about your real body type only sets the movement backward.

9 reasons dating is better as a single mom

Post honest pics to be honest with yourself

The second you start lying, you shame yourself and block your ability to find love.

When you post selfies from eight, pre-baby years ago, your opening line is: “I am ashamed of who I am. I am unlovable.” When you market yourself with shame, you deny your ability to be vulnerable — and connect with a man in a real and intimate way.

The more you are true to yourself, the more likely you will find someone who loves you just the way you are.

Very cliche, and also very true: There is someone out there for everyone.

Post honest photos to be honest with your date

I’m not immune from this pickle.

Before any particularly promising first date with someone I meet online there is always at least a glimmer of: “I hope he’s not disappointed when he meets me in real life.”

When I first started dating in earnest five years ago, I was headed out on one such date with a hot movie executive who spent his vacations traveling around the world surfing with his kids — and also seemed super-cool and smart.

Pre-date flirting was high, and before I headed out, I fussed in front of the mirror. “I think he’s out of my league,” I fretted to the babysitter, a friend.

Early in the evening, as I rose from the table to head for the bathroom, I was sure he disappointingly checked out my thighs, squeezed into a pair of black jeans.

Was this all in my head? Maybe. Maybe not.

But had I posted a swimsuit pic of myself when I was 27 and in top shape, well, then I could know for certain that he was scrutinizing my sqeezy thighs, scratching his head and wondering: What was she thinking? Because that would have been the normal thing to do — since I am not 27 and in top shape.

Which is exactly what Marc thought. After all, he met a girl online and she looked nothing like her pictures. Online dating for both men and women find that the other person is often fatter than they are in person.

Start the date off right by being an honest mirror of the picture online. It is extremely hard to overcome an initial shock and feeling of deceit when the person and the picture do not align.

How to get over your ex and find a quality relationship with a good man

What should I say about myself on a dating site?

Keep it short, says Sandra Schwartz, founder of, which helps women understand men. If you put everything about you on your profile, there might not be anything interesting left to say when you decide to talk to each other personally. Just highlight the important things.

How do I make my dating profile stand out?

The very best thing you can share in your profile is what makes you uniquely you. That's the big win.


Sunglasses aren’t allowed? Say what? Go take the helm of your own boat over the River Styx and stay out of mine. I wear them to cut through surface glare to see including four foot diameter logs with an inch poking above the surface. If you want to bust off your lower inboard outboard drive, go ahead, but don’t expect me to.

This is an odd article. Seems like internet dribble rather than any honesty. Here’s what I’ve noticed as a guy on dating apps.

Unattractive girls show fun activities like hiking etc…

Hot girls show one pic in a bikini, one pic in a tight dress at a club, one pic in a more sophisticated dress at a wine bar, and lastly a brunch pic…. all with instsgram model styled makeup…

This is the lack of honesty! It’s not about catfish if anyone with old photos, it’s more about people who think they’re attractive being sheep and showcasing their lifestyle line every other one….

So basically if you’re hot, all you do is workout, do bikini related activities, and drink/dance?? ???

So you’re never on the couch with a bag of chips?? Or doing anything normal???

We’re all trying to be someone we’re not so we can impress. But when it comes down to it, we all have a personality and likes dislikes. So we should showcase that rather than this bs 24/7 party lifestyle…

Sigh!! I’m a single mom….quite slim….do intermittent fasting…people tell me I’m quite pretty…generally look twice when they see me. Also I’m a professional, I get approached by handsome men who generally don’t hold a post sec degree and they always put me down when they find out how much schooling I have done. It’s frustrating and I don’t understand why they have to put me down for something I value and cherish such as my education.

They are intimidated by you..a “typical” man wants to feel like they are a step ahead in life & can “take care of you” if that makes sense. It is just a natural thing to want to be needed. It’s the way society has painted the picture & most people don’t realize that it is all BS. Be yourself & if they don’t like it or they criticize it then they aren’t worth getting to know in the first place!

Great read. If I had a dollar for every time this happened, I’d be a millionaire.

I just don’t see the point in misleading anyone, whether it’s through pictures or info. Both genders are guilty of this. People will either like your appearance or they won’t so might as well just get it out of the way. There is a fine line between taking your best photos and flat out misleading someone.

I’m never going to insult a person for how they look, but I also shouldn’t feel guilty for not being attracted to someone anymore than someone feeling guilty for not finding me attractive.

Now is appearance everything? Of course not, but it still matters. Personality matters too. I’ve had dates who were knockout gorgeous or cute but either they were toxic or just flat out boring. Point being is, you can’t completely lack physical attractiveness or personality. It just won’t work out. I’ve settled before and I felt guilty because I was lying to myself and the other person.

All my pictures were taken within 2-3 months from the date they were posted, everything I wrote in my profile is 100% true, even more, all the pictures I posted are with little or not make up and wearing regular clothes, with jeans, with a dress and with golf shorts, trying to show the REAL “ME” because I am only interested in finding a man who will like me for who I am, why would I lie? If I post unrealistic photos of me I would be embarrassed to meet the other person…and I will hate if they do that to me, and not because I am a shallow person but because why in hell would I like to date a person who 1 is a liar and 2 has emotional or mental issues to the point of not accepting himself just the way he is?

I thoroughly enjoyed this article. You are right about men and women posting deceiving photos. It’s unfair and a waste of time when someone shows up and are just overweight and not as advertised. The people angry in these comments are fat themselves and toxic in their opinions towards people in better shape. You don’t buy a Cadillac and settle for a Toyota when you paid for a Cadillac. Why would you date a man or woman who is 30 lbs more than they advertised? Liar, shallow, lazy, deceitful, disgraceful, dishonest, disrespectful, time wasting, and PATHETIC.

It’s very simple and it boils down to one simple fact. Why wouod anyone date someone they aren’t attracted to and if you honestly think that’a shallow ask yourself this question. How would you feel if you found out your partner didn’t find you attractive? I’m almost certain most if not all would be very hurt. Starting a relationship with someone you aren’t attracted to is beyond stupid.

I’m 40 , In great shape (100 miles a week cycling and gym daily kind of shape) 6’2″ with two STEM degrees and I gave up on online dating.

I didn’t date in high school or in my 20’s as I looked so much younger and women just weren’t interested in a 24 year old who didn’t shave yet.

I did my diligence, created a good profile and posted some recent pics. I don’t consider myself picky to begin with but after a few weeks of reading profiles and writing well thought messages that got no response (seriously can’t you women take the time to just write “no thanks.” to someone who spent a half an hour reading your profile and composing a message?

So I did what most guys do, I lowered my standards to go with my now lowered self esteem.

Still nothing…


OK now I got some responses from women I really don’t have anything in common with that I find unattractive but I kept lowering my standards. I finally got a date. We spent about a week txting she seemed nice and we had some common interests. So I take her to a nice restaurant spend about $250 on food drinks etc …


She tells me she is not over her ex, I’m kinda relieved as I realized that I was settling for someone I had no attraction to .

I hate to think of myself as shallow, but I was married to someone who put on a lot of weight right after we got married. I loved her enough that I was willing to stay, but simply put I physically can’t have sex with a person I’m not attracted to and I’m no more attracted to obese women than I am to a tree. We divorced and I have stayed single ever since.

I have a large group of good lifelong friends, looking at them I realize that most of them are single dads, some rising children that aren’t even their own, none of them date anymore and many haven’t dated but the one women who left them with their children and split for some guy with a neck tattoo..

No I don’t think all women are like this,yes there is a lot of hypergamy and lets face it online dating is a sausage fest and most women only go after the top %1 so the few decent ones get bombarded with so many messages you never make it through the cut. Unfortunately for me men outnumber women in my area and have standards so high (must be 6’10” supermodel with 700K income) and nothing to offer but sex so I just stay single.


I would never insult or even comment about someones weight, and I don’t mention it in my profile I’m very sensitive towards other peoples feelings and think that behavior is awful.

I’m just going to go MGTOW like millions of other guys.

Yep, I wouldn’t insult someone for their appearance either but having sex with someone you’re not physically attracted to is awkward.

Been there, done that. Not to mention the women get insulted if you can’t get it up.

So you literally want us to believe you dated a hollywood movie executive?

Is there a link between intirnsic lying and obese women or something going on here?

Deception is just bad in general. We can argue the finer points of WHY a lady would post older pics, but the bottom line is it’s bullcrap. Even lying about your age or your income doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship to your LIFESTYLE. If you are 30 pounds heavier that simply means you don’t treat yourself the way you did in those earlier pictures.

And as for it getting harder and harder to stay in shape as you age, cry me a river. Age is a trumped up measuring system that doesn’t even remotely describe who we are as people. I will not date a girl bigger than I am, and I shouldn’t have to lol; I’m 39 and I stay fit, and it really ain’t that hard. Cut out refined sugar and you’re 90% of the way there.

Yeah I recently met an absolutely stunning amazing girl, but she doesn’t really know how to listen, and has let herself go since the pictures. Too bad when that phone chemistry evaporates by the second date. I just don’t get it… she even admits that she’s out of shape, and she goes running a lot, but it has affected her whole personality. I can see that her self esteem is very low despite the fact that she is naturally gorgeous. It’s the LIFESTYLE and the IMPACT on her self esteem that I find much more unattractive than the 25 pounds she put on.

Be honest, be free. And ffs stay active- it’s just a much, much happier way to live XD

Indeed, it is a war zone out there in the online dating world.

While it works for some people, I really think there are better ways to go about dating, such as joining a club of some sort. Hiking groups etc. etc. Keep joining new ones until you find a good mix of guys/girls. Once you’re out of college/university and single, you have to get creative with how to meet people.
Surely your friends can put out the word that you’re single and looking. There’s going to be somebody you know along the way, that knows of a single good looking guy/girl to date. Put the pride away and ask for help from your friends in finding dates.

That way you avoid the rampant liars and weirdos that just make people become jaded cynical online window shoppers. There’s a mouthful. Anyway, good luck to all. It’s a zoo out there.
P.S. Emma – you’re very cute with that killer smile.

Rick – sure, blind dates and joining clubs are great ways to meet people, but so are eHarmony, OKCupid, Jdate etc. It’s simply a numbers game — you can connect with a dozen men in an hour online, while more traditional methods are far less efficient. Clearly online dating works — plenty of people have found partners, love and fun there, present company included!

Larger?? what is larger in term of weight. She might be larger but has a better sex appeal than slim girl..also it is about chemistry ….but thing is different when she is over weight with waves of met. By the way I use to have a cameraman colleague who asks me to take him a head shot to show it to a girl he met on Facebook…

Men do the same thing. I can’t tell you how many dates I’ve been on where the guy has a lot less hair and a few extra pounds. I always post recent photos as to avoid the awkwardness. Transparency is a must.

So true!!! I’ve been burned more than a few times. Is it too much to ask that they take care of themselves? Work out regularly? Ditch the “relaxed fit” jeans? This “men are more visual” stereotype doesn’t mean women are willing to date slobs.

There’s a flipside to this, Emma. Girls who are extremely beautiful in real life are often snobbishly condescending and/or woefully retarded.

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