Dating Profile Advice I Shouldn’t Have To Give Guys In 2016

Pairs well with You Got It, by Welshly Arms

Image for post
Image for post
Photo via

Gentlemen of the app dating community, I know you don’t like defining, describing, or representing yourself publicly. Little known fact: No one does. Writing your online dating profile, or compiling enough photos for your app dating profile is a chore, I get it. Coming up with a cute tagline, explaining away any visible children, it’s all awkward waters we’re swimming in. No one is really “good” at this. But boys, some of you are very, very bad at it. And I want to help. I care about you. Your wellbeing, your goals. I want good things for you, good connections, fun evenings in fine company. I also want you to stop upsetting me. I use a portion of my very valuable spare time to peruse the current male menu items on offer through any one of the dating apps that hasn’t pissed me off yet. It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to have a criminally bad profile that I’m just going to screenshot and send to my friends to make them laugh. Things can be better. Let’s make them better. Together.

Let’s start with the basics. Is this photo of you? Are you in this picture? No? Then take it out. Remove it. You must be present in all photos in your profile. I’m setting a hard and fast rule that I can’t believe I have to set because the whole premise of online dating apps is that women are looking for you, not for the adorable basset hound you adopted last year. He’s cute, but he ain’t picking up this round of drinks. Pose with cute little Thor. We want to see you. No gimmick memes, no funny road signs, no drawings — even if your artwork is currently hanging in a reputable gallery — the only photos in your profile should be photos. Of you. I don’t give a shit if you can quote every episode of Doctor Who, do not put a Tardis in your profile. I’ve had to take my own advice, too. I once had an image from my favorite scene in The West Wing in a profile of mine, but quickly removed it, as it served a purpose too soon. It’s a window into my personality perhaps, but I should let that come out in person. Dating apps are a dim sum cart of humans, you need to stand out among the available options.

Now that we’ve got you in the photo, another common misstep is the company you keep. How many other people are in there? If the answer is ever more than two, delete the image. Unless you have more than two siblings and it’s a cute Christmas pajama shot, that’s fine. But if anything about the photo makes it difficult for a woman to figure out which one YOU are, delete, delete, delete. I feel like I’m explaining the basics of making toast, but apparently a refresher lesson is in order because I’m still swiping through all of you and you’re embarrassing yourselves. Are there women in your photos? If so, who are they? If the answer is ever my ex-anything, delete the photo. If the answer is ever “my current wife and kids,” go swim with piranhas. And, for the love logic, if every single photo in your profile is a group shot of all men, and you thought that was a good idea, maybe online dating isn’t for you. Maybe walking around without a helmet isn’t for you, either.

If I may be shallow for a moment, you’d do well not to include a photo of you with your hotter friend standing next to you. Balk all you want to, I said it and I meant it. I would tweet it again tomorrow. Put yourself in the position of the woman who comes across your profile. The first image is a photo of two men, one of whom is clearly the more attractive of the pair. Intrigued, she investigates further, and looks at photo number two, only to see a pic of you in your mom’s kitchen slicing vegetables for her Thanksgiving stuffing. It’s a cute picture, but it’s still a letdown, because you’re not the hot one. Leave Hot Friend out of your profile, lead with the pic from Mom’s kitchen, and be the hot one.

I am so, so proud of you for running a marathon. Mazel tov. Great job. But no one, absolutely no one looks good in those little spandex short/tank top combos. Scott Eastwood probably couldn’t pull ’em off so honey, you don’t stand a chance. A photo of you after the marathon smiling with a medal around your neck and your arm draped over Dad’s shoulder is, much, much cuter. And you’ve probably already donned a pair of track pants at that point to spare us such an unsavory visual. I have similar feelings about Burning Man outfits. If you would not wear the outfit in the chosen image in front of your mother, do not include it in your dating profile. Nipple pasties and leopard print underpants topped with furry suspenders aren’t really enticing me to swipe right. All I’m going to do with that outfit is post it to social media with your head cropped out, sweet pea. I’m sorry.

I once saw a shirtless, sunburned man sliding a live, petting-zoo snake between his legs with his mouth wide open, proud of his new dance move. I don’t have anything else to say about that I just really wanted to mention it.

Up-the-nose selfies. Why? WHY? Is that angle something you want to see? Would you find it flattering on the opposite sex? Is the underside of her chin really something that turns you on? Is nostril quality high on your priority list? That angle is the angle of accidents. It’s what happens when you open your camera app and it’s facing you rather than the outside world. The only people regularly exposed to that view are babies, and they’re too young to weigh in on this topic. Are you so embarassed to take a photo of yourself that you’ll only do it from under the table? You’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re draining my phone battery by being one more unfortunate photo to swipe through. Earn that phone charge boys, earn it!

I could go on for days about posing. The way you’ve all chosen to position yourselves is something I’d like to compile into a calendar and sell at Hot Topic. The “lean back against a wall with one foot up” move. What is that? You look like you’re modelling for a Kohl’s catalog. Especially when you add the “pensive looking off into the distance” face. You could be on the cover of a Creed album. The “arms way out, mouth open, leaning toward other partying friend” pose is another I’d like to ban. I get that you’re trying to suggest via body language that you’re a good time, but you really look like a racoon the second before he gets hit by an oncoming truck. What you need is a role model. You need someone to study and copy. May I suggest Justin Timberlake? Learn his posture, his movements, his casual, relaxed stance. Stop thinking of every photo you take as a performance of some kind. It’s a photo, not a caricature drawing you got on a cruise ship.

Photographers: You might think you have an upper hand here. You don’t. You’re all taking and posting the exact same photo of yourselves in the mirror with your giant SLR camera turned to the side and blocking half your face. All of you. Every single one. Fun fact: About half of you post that photo in black and white. You’re not original boo boo, I’m sorry. You’re also the least likely group to smile on camera. Most photographers I come across via app dating have five very stone-faced photos of themselves. I’m assuming you do this to come across as a very serious artists? Okay. I’m convinced. You’re a very serious artist. Now say cheese, before your deep, penetrating glances convince me you’re the kind of guy I’ll need a restraining order against in six months.

Time plays a role here, too. I understand that new photo ops are tough to come by, but if your images are all of you at age eight on grandpa’s knee, or you at age 18 doing a kegstand, it might be time to get a new look. I like to stick to a three year photo window. If the photo is more than three years old, it’s probably not the best representation of your current self. Keep things fresh. Like a nice summer salad with citrus lime vinaigrette.

Fire arms. No.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Your photos include: You flying through the air on skis, you scaling the wall at a climbing gym, you ziplining through forestry, a sweet shot from your recent boxing match, and of course a pic from Tough Mudder. You are exhausting me already and we haven’t even matched yet. Slow down, look at the camera, and smile. I get it, you lift.

A woman wants to see you, to see your face, your style, your confidence. It’s really hard to get that from photos of you on the last three Halloweens where you dressed as various members of the same 80s hair band. And the faces, guys, the faces you make. I know it’s important to you that the “fun” part of your personality shines through, but sticking your tongue out in 50% of your images isn’t fun, it’s disappointing. Is it an insecurity thing? Will smiling sincerely at a camera chip away at your masculinity in some way? Because the existing faces you’re serving up are certainly chipping away at my desire for the opposite sex as a collective. Do you want to see a girl making that face? No? Then wipe it off and restart. You can do this, I know you can.

A word on tigers. The drugged tigers. The tourist photo op you came across while backpacking in Thailand without giving one thought to what that animal was actually enduring. But I’m sure you don’t want to know because you were just passing through, the sad life of an enslaved tiger would have been such a bummer, and you were on vacation. Allow me to put it into the most basic of comparisons: You don’t particularly appreciate it when your friends take drunk, passed-out photos of you once they’ve drawn a dick on your face, why on earth do you think it’s okay to saddle up next to one of the jungle’s most majestic lords in his saddest state and give the thumbs up? Stop taking and posting photos with drugged tigers. You look like a monster.

I’ve been telling you a lot of what not to do. I haven’t been very fair. It might be more beneficial and instructive for me to pass along a few novel ideas that might serve to help you create a profile worth tossing right. I’m nothing if not a team player, and I really do want to help. First, don’t get too stressed out about words. Not everyone is Sorkinesque in literary ability, I get it. You really don’t need to be. You know how you never really read a girl’s profile, you just look at the pictures for milliseconds before you swipe? We do that shit too, it’s fine. Just focus on the images. We’ll save your writing skills for another time. If your profile looks a little blank, just focus on the basics. Your city of residence, your job, and if you’d like to put it out there, your height. But because you’re going to chose better photos from now on, a girl will probably get a sense for how tall you are just by looking at your images, right? Right?! And either way, you don’t need to tell someone how tall you are unless you want to. I know height matters to a lot of women, and to me, but that’s dumb. We’re terrible. I’m terrible. You’re 5’7 and I love you.

I understand that it’s pretty rare for a guy to take a selfie. It’s almost unheard of for a guy to take a good selfie. Why is that? Did they not teach that in Scouts? If I see one more photo of a guy in the mirror of a dirty bathroom with bad yellow overhead lighting I’m going to use my phone for kindling, I really am. So the selfie thing isn’t working for you. You’re going to have to find another source if you’re ever going to get good photos out there. There are two key resources at your disposal, don’t overlook them. You might have to take a deep breath and brace yourself for an ounce of embarrassment, but if you can meet a stranger for a first date in public, I promise you this is much more tolerable.

First, your best friend’s girlfriend. She is in your corner. She wants this for you. Her boyfriend’s best friend finding a girlfriend is nothing but a positive for her. Right now, the three of you are missing a limb and she doesn’t like it. Ask her to take your picture. Yes, this is going to feel awkward as the devil but you need to trust me. She’s going to tell you the truth. About what you’re wearing, the face you’re making, your hair. She’ll help, if you let her. And it doesn’t need to be a photo shoot either, pal. The next time you’re at a meal with them, on your way to a party, even a sporting event. Hand her your phone and tell her to earn her keep. Let her know why you need the photos, this is key. It’ll call her to action. She’s taken Instagrams you’d frame and put on a wall. She’s got this.

Your next resource: weddings. When used correctly, photos of you as a wedding guest are ideal. Many of you are already using this resource, but incorrectly. Sort of like buying a plant but placing it on the windowsill upside down. There is a simple rule to follow when posting photos of yourself from someone else’s wedding. If the photo in question was taken after the ceremony, do not include it in your profile. Post-ceremony photos are full of bad dance moves, disheveled outfits, sweaty faces, and photo booth props. You look 1,000x better before the ceremony, sober, suited-up and handsomely posing next to another groomsman, pocket square and all. If you don’t want to be obvious about it, pull that same best friend’s girlfriend aside before the wedding and let her know you need some new material. She’ll snap away on her phone, text you the results, and no one will ever be the wiser. She’ll give a great speech at your wedding someday, it’ll bring the house down.

Yes, this advice is self-serving. I do want better quality imagery to enjoy as I flip through my apps when the subway goes above ground. I want to stop discovering new levels of rock bottom when it comes to male app dating profiles. But I’m not just doing this for me. I’m doing this for all of us. All of the single women who see you, I want good things for them, too! We’ve all had enough of this poorly danced merengue. We want more, and we deserve it.

All of this will help you, too, I promise. I’m not just singing you a song. (You wouldn’t want me to, my voice could melt paint off walls). Good begets good, and the karma that will come your way after you grant the female dating population a good profile to review will be bountiful, bountiful I say! That PR director from Silverlake will be the best date you go on all year. That brunette veterinarian from the UWS will charm your socks literally off. It’s all going to happen, if you let it. So I beg you, from the bottom of my cold, exhausted heart, on behalf of myself and many, many others: Stop fucking around. Give us your best shot.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store