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Online dating is hard. We’re here to help.

Visit this spot for tips, tricks, news, and other tidbits useful to those trying to navigate the murky waters of online dating. More people than ever are meeting their mates online, using everything from online personals and forums to giant dating sites to small, niche online communities. Whatever your interests, whatever you like in a partner, whatever floats your boat, it’s out there.

Three Tips for a Good Online Dating First Impression: Username, Tag Line and Writeup

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

We’ve covered how important the right dating profile photo is, as well as some great tips for reaching out to other users on dating sites. But when it comes to a first impression, there are even more details that matter, and they start with the smallest of things: your username, tag line and writeup.

According to this article on Oprah.com, there are a few quick tips that will help you maximize your potential for a good first impression. Here they are for you:

1. Your username: Whatever you choose, it’s one of the first things your potential date will see, right before or right after your profile photo. Be very aware of how your username speaks for you. If you’re a woman seeking a serious relationship, a username like “Dcupgal” won’t do you any favors. Similarly, a man looking to impress a wide variety of women may want to steer clear of childish usernames like “420gamerguyy.”

Don’t try to be too clever with your username; if there’s a joke in there somewhere, be sure it’s clear enough for more than just a tiny percentage of the population to get. And finally, don’t try to force a username for yourself if the one you really want is already taken by someone else. “MissMary5693462″ is messy-looking and impossible to remember.

2. Your tag line: Many dating sites give you a single line of text to put as your profile’s lead-in, like a headline or status update. This is a chance to catch someone’s eye with your wit, interests or style, right up front. First, remember these can be changed regularly. If you’re looking for something specific in a given week, you can change your tag line to reflect that (something like “Seeking someone to hang at the Shady Mongoose club this week and catch a bluegrass show!”).

Second, try to avoid TOO much cleverness or obscurity in your tagline. Inside jokes are fun when everyone is in on the joke, but those who don’t get it won’t be amused or impressed. You won’t sound smart or educated; you’ll sound pretentious or confusing.

3. Your description/writeup: We’ve talked before about what should go into your writeup, but the style of it matters, too. Break up that wall of text into a few paragraphs, and organize them somewhat. The first paragraph is who you are and what you do; the second is for your interests, pet peeves, etc; and the third is what you’re currently up to, from recent books and movies to things you’d LIKE to do, ideally with a date.

One last thing: Spell check. For the love of Pete, spell check is your friend. Let it help you. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Race and Online Dating: Four Things About Racial Preferences Online

Whether we want to admit it or not, online dating isn’t entirely colorblind. The good news is, we’ve made great strides in recent decades as far as racial diversity and inter-racial relationships. The maybe-not-as-good news is, there are some clear preferences that both men and women online daters have where race is concerned. This NPR article explores the details of a study done on 2.4 million heterosexual interactions via the Facebook “Are You Interested” app; four of the key findings are as follows:

1. All men appear to be interested in women of different races than their own.

2. All women (except black women) seem to prefer white men.

3. Both black men and black women got the lowest rates of response to their messages out of all the races.

4. Nearly all men gravitate toward Asian women. The exception? Asian men.

Asian women are preferred by just about all men... Except Asian men.

Asian women are preferred by just about all men on online dating sites… Except Asian men.

Data from OKCupid supports many of these results. For example, OKCupid found that white men receive more replies to their messages from just about every group of women. White women prefer white men, but more interestingly, Asian and Hispanic women appear to prefer white men “even more exclusively.”

As uncomfortable as it may be, the data don’t lie. White men and Asian women clearly have an advantage in online dating when it comes to people of all races finding them attractive. But lest you despair of finding a mate, consider that many experts suspect that some of this data may be skewed. In the real world, the pairing of Asian women and white men isn’t as common as dating sites suggest, which could mean a variety of things. One theory is that there’s some Asian fetishism at play, a sort of “yellow fever” that makes Asian women attractive on screen but more ordinary in real life. Offline may be much different from online when it comes to real matchups.

Whatever the motivations, everyone has their own preferences for what they like. Be true to you!

Sussing Out the Truth: Top Ten Lies that Online Daters Tell

"Yep, these are totally my real breasts. Wouldn't lie to you about that, ha ha!"

“Yep, these are totally my real breasts. Wouldn’t lie to you about that, ha ha!”

On the TV show “House MD,” the show’s main character had a saying: Everybody lies. Most of us know this to be at least a little bit true, and if you’ve spent any time in the world of online dating, you know that it’s more common than some might think. Many, many online dating profiles (more than half of them, as it turns out) contain fudged facts, little white lies and outright whoppers in order to make themselves more desirable and, presumably, datable. After all, it’s easy to make up a few things (or leave out a few things) about ourselves when we’re on the hunt for a mate via the web. The internet is an anonymous platform, revealing only what we wish, until real life and in-person meetups bring the whole thing crashing down, of course.

So what are the most common lies told by those on internet dating sites? Huff Post Style did a piece a few years ago about this very topic, and the findings of the referenced study were interesting. As expected, men and women lied about very similar things, although not all exactly the same and not all in the same order. Older people lied less than younger people, and women lied more than men, by about 10 percentage points (and mostly about how they look). Americans lied more than the British people in the study, but in the end, most of the online daters fibbed.

Without further ado, the lists of the most popular lies told…

Top 10 Things Women Lie About on Dating Profiles

10. Saying that they “work in entertainment”

9. Claiming to have an assistant or direct reports under them

8. Claiming to know famous people

7. Claiming to have a fancy, exciting or glamorous job

6. Claiming to have a larger bust than they do

5. Saying they have more money than they actually have

4. Pretending to be taller than they are

3. Claiming to have a “toned” physique

2. Pretending to be a few years younger than they are

1. Saying they weigh less than they do

 

Top 10 Things Men Lie About on Dating Profiles

10. Claiming to work in the “film industry”

9. Claiming to have employees or an assistant

8. Claiming to know famous people

7. Pretending to have an interesting job

6. Saying that they’re higher up at work than they are

5. Claiming to have more money than they do

4. Pretending to have an “athletic” physique

3. Saying they weigh less than they do

2. Claiming to be taller than they are

1. Saying that their job is better than it actually is

 

Dating Sites By the Numbers

fingersThere are more dating sites on the web right now than anyone can count, with new ones springing up or shutting down every day. The site(s) you choose to join may depend on many factors, from overall membership numbers to cost to whether the site supports same sex matchups. Thanks to Wikipedia, we can give you a quick rundown of some of the more popular US online dating sites, in case you’re having trouble deciding on one. NOTE: This is by no means an exhaustive list, and if you’d like more info on these sites or any others, follow the wiki link above.

Match.com

Membership: 96 million registered as of 2009, with 1.7 million active

Free? nope, this one will cost you, both for joining and for messaging other members.

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

eHarmony.com

Membership:

Free? No, you have to pay to join and also to message other members.

Same sex couples ok? No, this is a hetero-only site.

OKCupid.com

Membership: 5.6 million active as of 2010

Free? Yep, this site is free to join and to message others.

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Plenty of Fish

Membership: 40 million registered as of 2012

Free? You betcha. Free to join, free to message others.

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Zoosk

Membership: 50 million as of 2011

Free? No, this one costs you to sign up and also send messages.

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

SpeedDate.com

Membership: 9 million registered as of 2010

Free? Parts of it are, but the full site access will cost you.

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Gay Romeo/Planet Romeo

Membership: 6.7 million registered, over a million active

Free? Communication and profile/page views are free

Same sex couples ok? That’s a stupid question. Yes.

Chemistry.com

Membership: 11 million as of 2010

Free? Parts of it are free, but communicating with other members is not

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Badoo

Membership: 197 million as of 2013

Free? There’s a free option, but premium services do cost money

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Ashley Madison

Membership: 17.8 million as of 2013

Free? Partial access for free, but most of it costs

Same sex couples ok? Yes!

Five Tips for Writing that First Message to Someone on a Dating Site

When you find a profile on a dating site that makes you go, “Hmm, this one sounds promising,” it can be more stressful than expected. After all, you have one chance, your first message to this new person, to make a good impression. You want to write something that makes THEM go, “Hmmm, this one sounds promising.” You want that first message to draw them in, not send them screaming for the hills. So what constitutes a good first message to someone on a dating site?

OKCupid did the math. They looked at 500,000 first messages and checked out keywords, response rates and other valuable statistics. In the end, they came up with some rules that can help your first contact be the first of many more. There’s no guarantee that these rules will work every time, but they just might give you a leg up on the competition, at the least.

No matter how pretty she is, save it for after you've gotten to know her a bit.

No matter how pretty she is, save it for after you’ve gotten to know her a bit.

1. No physical compliments. You may think this is counter intuitive; what girl wouldn’t want to be told she’s beautiful? But the key here is that you’re trying to meet someone for the first time, and focusing on looks as a pick-up line can be a major turn-off. If the girl is pretty, she probably knows it, or at least made sure to put her most flattering picture on her profile. So messages that point out her attractiveness will probably come across as more creepy than complimentary. You can always tell her how attractive she is after you’ve gotten to know her a bit more. On the flipside, general, non-physical compliments scored way better in OKCupid’s analysis: go for words like “fascinating,” “cool,” or “awesome” (just don’t use them in the wrong context, like “you have an awesome rack”).

2. Atypical greetings score better than the bland ones. You may think that a standard “hi” is a good way to open a message, but it turns out that the usual “hi,” “hello” or “hey” scored pretty low. The opening lines that performed the best included “how’s it going,” “what’s up,” “howdy” and even “hola.” We’re not really sure why this is, but it’s best not to argue with science.

3. Don’t suck at spelling/grammar. Literacy, as it turns out, is important for a first impression, not only for job interviews but also for dates. Proper use of punctuation (especially apostrophes) can raise even ordinary words to high approvals, but failing at grammar drops otherwise-decent words into netspeak hell. The “words” (and I use that term loosely) that scored worst in OKCupid’s ratings included “ur,” “r,” “ya,” “u,” “cant,” “luv,” “realy” and “wat.” There were a few exceptions to the rule, such as expressions of laughter (“haha” and “lol” did okay in the stats), but by and large, dusting off those old English class skills helped users get far more responses than crappy or lazy writing.

4. Be an atheist. Or at least claim to be. Before anyone gets their panties in a wad about this, it’s not a personal preference thing by us or by OKCupid. We don’t care if you’re religious or not. The reality is, the stats don’t lie, and people who mentioned being atheist in their opening contacts scored higher than any other religious mention. A distant second was Christian, then Jewish, then Muslim. After that came mentions of Allah and Jesus (both barely a positive), while mention of “god” in general was a negative.

Tattoo, yes. Saying "u" instead of "you," NO.

Tattoo, yes. Saying “u” instead of “you,” NO.

5. Use specifics to stand out. Talking in vague, general terms about yourself is not going to win any points with a potential date. You want to be specific about your interests, and you also want to be specific about how you’ve noticed THEIR interests. For yourself, the following terms scored the highest in OKCupid’s findings: “band,” “metal,” “vegetarian,” “zombie,” “favorite movies,” “tattoo(s),” “physics,” “video games” and “grad school.” When talking about what the other person likes, the terms that got the best response (and showed that you were paying attention to their profile) were “you mention,” “good taste,” “noticed that,” “your name” and “curious what.” Be clear about what you like and also how interested you are in what they like, and you’ll have a much higher chance of response.

Seven Niche Dating Sites for VERY Specific People

Yes, you can find dating sites for workout buffs, but these sites are even more niche than that.

Yes, you can find dating sites for workout buffs, but these sites are even more niche than that.

It’s almost impossible to count all the dating sites out there. Many of them are general and boast millions of members, but others are extremely specific: They cater to a narrow member base, those who have something in common that really matters to them. What these sites lack in population size, they make up for in passion, at least where their niche is concerned. So is there a niche dating site that’s right for you? Here are some specific (and often surprising) niche dating sites that actually exist. (site info courtesy of a great article at The Frisky)

1. 420Singles: This is a dating site designed just for those who like to indulge in cannabis. Whether you live in a state that has legalized marijuana or not, whether you smoke a bowl daily or just try a bit in a while (or even if you don’t smoke but support those who do), this site is for those like you. 420singles claims to have 53,000 members with more added daily.

2. Trek Passions: If Sci Fi is your thing, Trek Passions is for you. You don’t have to be a fan of Star Trek; the site also caters to fans of Star Wars and other sci fi TV shows and movies, as well as those who prefer their science fiction in literary form (Douglas Adams anyone?). Trek Passions is good for finding both friends and dates who share your love of the final frontier. Smoke us a kipper, we’ll be back for breakfast.

3. Gluten-Free Singles: Celiac is nothing to mess with. If you’d like to meet singles who eschew gluten, whether because of celiac, gluten intolerance or just dietary choice, look no further. You’d be surprised how delightful it can be to dine out with someone who orders from the same menu. Gluten-Free Singles was a finalist for the 2014 “Up and Coming Dating Site” award.

4. Punk Match: You aren’t mainstream, so why date that way? Punk Match pairs you with potential partners who are as punk as you are. If you grow weary of the options on ordinary dating sites and want someone who shares your individual spirit and anti-establishment tendencies, this could be the site for you.

5. Equestrian Singles: Many children love horses. So do many adults, as it turns out. Equestrian Singles lets you meet potential mates who share your love and passion for all things horse. Whether you ride English or Western, whether you prefer the thrill of the steeplechase or the peace of a trail ride, visit this site for other horse lovers.

6. Positive Singles: In this day and age, having an STD doesn’t have to carry the stigma it once did. If you’re one of the millions of people living with a sexually-transmitted disease, Positive Singles is a reminder that you’re not alone. Whether you have HIV, HPV or HSV, this site lets you meet others with similar diagnoses so that you can date without worry. No need to fret about when to “drop the bomb” on your latest love interest or whether they’ll lose interest in you afterward. This dating site takes the stress out of being positive.

7. Alikewise: Just saying “I like books” isn’t enough. There are so many genres, authors, styles and themes in the literary world that a shared love of literature is no guarantee of a match. That’s where Alikewise comes in, pairing book lovers with others who share their specific reading interests. Whether you prefer Asimov or Austen, you can share your passion here.

Eight Steps to Make Your Dating Profile “Ideal”

There are millions of dating profiles on the web, spread across countless dating sites. Many of them seem as diverse as they could be. But in reality, there’s a pattern to the madness. Certain hobbies, certain interests, certain aspects of personality and appearance… There are trends in how both men and women view these things and which ones rise to the top. Wired did the research and crunched the data on profiles from OKCupid and Match, and based on their findings, here are some tips to help you fashion a dating profile most likely to appeal to others.

Outside hobbies make you more attractive.

Outside hobbies make you more attractive.

1. Outdoor hobbies matter (some more than others). Wired found that upper middle class sports drew interest, while sports like basketball and kickball didn’t fare so well. Among men, the top three outdoor activities were surfing, yoga and skiing (in that order), while for women, the top three were yoga, surfing and running (also in that order). So the bottom line is, learn to surf.

2. Get to know the right shows and movies. For attractiveness, men scored highest when they mentioned watching “Homeland” and “Arrested Development,” while women scored best for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Pulp Fiction.” Women plummeted in the ratings for talking about liking “Twilight” or “Star Trek,” and men dropped like rocks for “Doctor Who” and “NCIS.”

3. Money talks, but age walks (at least for women). When it comes to work-related words that pop up in profiles, the most attractive word for women to read in a man’s profile is “retirement.” But if a woman puts that same word in her own profile, it drops to the second-least attractive word. Men don’t like thinking of women aging, we guess.

4. Smile with teeth – no duckface! The photos rated the hottest on dating profiles featured a majority of pics with people smiling open-lipped. On the flipside, only 6% of the hottest pics had duckface kissy lips in them.

5. Does music matter? Apparently so. For both men and women, the best band you could mention on your profile is the same: Radiohead.

Religion is fine, but focusing too much on it may cost you.

Religion is fine, but focusing too much on it may cost you.

6. Watch the mention of religion. Religion can be a deal-breaker for many people, so while you many want to put it all out there (and you should certainly be honest about your beliefs), the word “God” makes your profile less attractive. That said, of all the people willing to date outside their faith, Mormon men are the most likely to do it.

7. Log in at the right time to get the most activity. On many of the main dating sites (Grindr, Tinder, OKCupid, Match), there’s a big spike of activity on Sundays. Also, Grindr users tend to be online in the midafternoon, while Tinder and Match/OKCupid are on into the evening hours. So get online on Sunday if you want the best chance of chatting with someone in real-time.

8. Want sex? Know what most people want. Sex is important in most relationships, but how long do you wait to have it with someone new, and how often once you start? OKCupid did a poll, and they found that most users of all genders and sexual orientations wanted to wait 3-5 dates before getting busy with a new partner. After that, the most popular choice for how often to have sex was 3-4 times per week. Obviously, everyone is different, so don’t assume your new love interest has the same sexual timeline as you: Communicate!

Is It Real? Six Ways to Spot Fake Dating Profiles

If you’ve spent any time at all on dating sites, you know that not every profile is real. Some are bots set up to lure people to other sites, while others are real people pretending to be someone desirable so that they can entice you into giving them anything from your contact info to your bank account. People are taken in by these scams every day, and at best, they’re annoying. So how can you tell whether the hottie sending you a wink is really who they say they are? Here are some tips to help you spot the fakes (most of these are courtesy of DateMyPet.com).

1. If they send you a message, wink or other communication within the first few minutes of you signing up for the site, be careful. Real people aren’t usually online every moment, flirting with new sign-ups the second they appear. There’s always the chance that this potential mate happened to see your profile right after you made it, but the more realistic answer is that it’s a bot set up to reach out to new users quickly.

"To your bank account. Err, I mean health."

“To your bank account. Err, I mean health.”

2. If they ask you to come find them on another site, think twice. Many a hottie has sent a message to an online dater that says something like, “Hey, I’m usually on this other site instead, come see me there!” More often than not, these are fake profiles designed to drive web traffic to porn sites or even competing dating sites. The hottie in question probably doesn’t exist at all.

3. If they send you messages even though your profile is incomplete and/or you have no photo uploaded yet, beware. Think about it: would you start eagerly messaging someone who doesn’t even have a photo available yet? Does that sound like prime relationship material? Probably not. Again, it could be automated, or it could be someone hoping to catch you for a scam before you’ve had time to meet the “real” people on the site.

4. If they send you messages that are super-forward or poorly-written, watch out. Men are typically more forward, but rarely will a woman looking for love send a hot-and-sexy explicit message to a guy she hasn’t gotten to know yet (unless she has ulterior motives). Also, messages that are in poor English and riddled with spelling or grammar mistakes could indicate that the person behind that profile isn’t a cute divorcee from Iowa, but rather a scammer from, say, Eastern Europe or Nigeria. Even more red flags should pop up if the person sending you the badly-written messages claims to have a masters or doctorate degree (which scammers disproportionately claim, for some reason).

5. If they ask you for your personal info, use care. It’s not uncommon for people who meet on dating sites to exchange phone numbers or email addresses to communicate further, but if the other person is really pushy to get that info, or if they ask for your mailing address or even (seriously) your bank account login, they’re probably looking to mine and sell your information and/or steal as much as they can from you. There’s no reason to ask for that sort of information through a dating site.

"No, I'm totally a pilot. I just need money to fly orphans to the doctor."

“No, I’m totally a pilot. I just need money to fly orphans to the doctor.”

6. If they have a sob story that they can’t wait to share, step back. Not every scammer is obvious about asking for your bank information; they aren’t all claiming to be princes from Africa. Some of them appear to be real people (often located overseas, see the Eastern Europe thing above) who happen to be looking for love. But then, as you talk to them, it quickly comes out that they need money for some urgent personal issue (hospitalization, dying family member, emergency trip, etc). They’ll weave a sad tale and ask if you, the newfound friend with whom they have such a deep connection, could loan them the money they need. They promise to pay you back. They are so, so grateful for the help. They swear they are legit. We hope you can see where this is going. While it sounds like an obvious con, it’s amazing how many people fall for this because “She just seemed so sincere” or “We video chatted, and he was seriously upset and in need.” Do not send money, bank info or anything else to someone you met on the internet.

Bottom line: Don’t let the prospect of a hot date cloud your otherwise good judgment. Be safe!

The Eye-Catching You: Seven Tips to Make Your Online Dating Profile Stand Out

With millions of dating profiles circulating on the web (some legit, some not so much), the thought of someone spotting and liking yours may seem daunting. While there are no guarantees that there’s a perfect someone out there just waiting to throw you a “wink,” there are ways to help your dating profile stand apart from the crowd and increase your chances of getting noticed. Many of these tips come from Business Insider and others who are in the know.

Hi there.

Hi there.

1. Skip the selfies, especially if you’re a guy. The days of the “behind the wheel of my sweet car” selfie or “standing in the bathroom of my gym” selfie are past, and we’re frankly glad of it. Women are more likely to get away with selfies than guys, but even then, it’s probably not your best (or most genuine) look. What to do instead: Try to find a friend or coworker to take a decent photo of you. Be smiling in that photo. No duckfaces allowed.

2. Change your profile pic every few weeks. This keeps your profile fresh and also might catch the attention of someone who could have passed over you earlier. Again, if you need more pics of you that you can add to the rotation, ask a friend to take a few next time you’re out. Remember, be smiling, and don’t use photos that are more than a year old or that don’t show what you actually look like now.

3. Flip the bad stuff into good stuff. Say you hate being outside. Maybe you have allergies, or you just don’t like to break a sweat. Instead of writing something like “you won’t catch me dead on a hike!” avoid the negativity and say something positive about what you DO like, such as “I like to hang out with my friends and loved ones at home, watching movies and being together.” You can make the point that you like staying in without totally dissing the people who prefer to be out.

4. Talk about yourself. Seriously. So many people use their dating profiles to write about what they would do for someone else (“You’d be my princess,” “My perfect guy would never want for anything,” etc). That’s great, but it doesn’t really say who YOU are when you talk about the other, hypothetical person. Instead, use that space to describe yourself and your interests. Be careful not to OVERshare, though; you’re limited in your space, and not every single tiny detail of your life needs to be in your profile. Just hit the highlights, but hit them squarely.

5. Instead of telling who you are, SHOW it. Remember in middle school English, when we all learned that “to be” verbs are weak? That’s still true for your dating profile. Don’t just say “I am funny,” or “I am a hands-on guy.” Instead, paint a picture with your description. Think you’re funny? Tell a joke here and there in your profile. Are you really hands-on? Talk about something you actually did that got your hands dirty, like that motorcycle you fixed a few months back. Whatever it is that makes up who you are, it’s far better to illustrate it than to just make a statement about it.

Love the beach? Show your love (and you)!

Love the beach? Show your love (and you)!

6. Continue that showing with your photos. A good way to illustrate your interests further is to use photos of yourself enjoying those interests. Do you like to waterski? Have someone snap a pic of you on the boat, ready to go. Love your local sports team? Get a pic of yourself cheering them on in the stands. Just be careful that your “interest” shots aren’t too distant; if the people viewing your profile can’t actually see what you look like, they may not be interested in delving further.

7. For the love of Mike, DON’T LIE. It’s amazing that this needs to be said, but people genuinely struggle with honesty on their dating profiles. Remember, the key is to eventually meet your prospective mates in person, so if you lie about what you look like, what you do for a living, or even what your interests are, those lies will come out. That said, don’t be BRUTALLY honest; your profile isn’t the place to air all of your hardcore beliefs, opinions or baggage. Be concise, be illustrative, be smiling, and above all, be YOU.

Dating Profile Photos: Five Things You Should NOT Do

You can probably guess how important it is to have a photo (or better yet, more than one) in your online dating profile. According to eHarmony, profiles with photos are nine times more likely to get a communication. No picture, no dates. Prospective mates need to see you to get a feel for who you are, and a picture is worth a thousand words.

That said, there are certain things that should NOT be part of your dating profile photo if you want that photo to work for you.

1. Don’t do the “crop-the-other-guy-out” maneuver. You know what we mean: the pic where you’re clearly standing with someone, only the other person has been removed and the photo is cropped really tightly. Photos like this are tacky, according to eHarmony, and they also suggest that the other person now missing from the photo might be an ex of yours.

distance

Great view! But what does this guy LOOK like??

2. Don’t post a pic of yourself standing WAAAAY far away. Maybe your favorite photo of yourself is the one where you’re standing in front of the Parthenon during your trip to Greece. The sky is blue, the ruins are beautiful, and there you are, a tiny blip of a person almost lost amid the grandeur. Photos like this may be good for showing your interests, but they’re not so great at showing what you actually LOOK like. Also, some people may worry that you deliberately chose a distant shot because you’re not attractive.

3. Don’t post grainy, blurry or tiny images. What is this, 1998? Modern technology has gotten us to a point where there’s no reason your photo should be bad quality. Ask a friend to take a new, fresh picture of you for your profile if you really, truly can’t find any good ones of yourself handy.

4. Watch that background (and foreground). Plenty of decent profile pics have been ruined by messy rooms, hideous curtains or couches, or otherwise distracting and/or unattractive backgrounds. If you’re taking a selfie in front of the bathroom mirror, how clean is that sink area? For that matter, how clean is the mirror? Try to create a pleasant, non-distracting environment for your pic so that YOU are the part that the prospective mate notices.

Not a very attractive look.

Not a very attractive look.

5. Keep out the potentially-controversial. Whoever you are, you definitely have your own set of beliefs, opinions and habits. Maybe you are a proud hunter of big game. Perhaps you smoke two packs a day. Maybe you got arrested recently. Do your best to keep ALL of these things out of your profile photo. It’s not that you’re trying to hide who you are; in fact, your interests, drinking/smoking habits, religious/political beliefs and other aspects of your personality should be all laid out in the written part of your dating profile. Rather, it’s about preventing people from making snap judgments about you based entirely on a photo. If your picture shows you with a cigarette dangling from your lip, you may scare away any non-smokers who might otherwise have liked you once they got to know you better. If you use your mug shot as your profile pic, suffice it to say that there are some who may shy away from that. Be who you are, but try to keep your profile pic fairly neutral to give yourself the best chance of closer looks by potential dates.