The 10 Commandments of Online Dating Pictures

Your online dating profile pictures are important. No matter what anyone says, they are almost always the first thing that any man or woman looks at when they’re checking out your profile. It’s the same thing in real life, too. When you see someone, your brain decides if you’re attracted or not and then you get to know them.

Now, things can change once you get to know someone and you can become attracted to someone you originally weren’t or the other way around if they’re not what you expected. This can happen too when someone reads your online dating profile or when you read theirs. But, all that being said, it’s obviously super important that you put your best foot forward in your online dating pictures.

Because they’re so important, there can be some temptation to try and do things to increase the number of reactions and interactions that you get from the other singles online. While this might seem logical, it’s unfair to everyone else, and it’s going to backfire in your face.

So, what guidelines should you follow when picking out your online dating profile pictures? Below, we’ve put together the 10 commandments of online dating pictures. It’s the 10 rules that you must follow if you want to have success dating online. Violating any one of these commandments won’t get you struck by lightning or thrown in jail, but it will ensure that you have a terribly unsuccessful and awkward time dating.

Thou shalt not use Photoshop.

It can be tempting to want to get rid of a few of those blemishes or tan up your skin a little or digitally suck in a little of that extra holiday weight you’ve got. While this might be tempting, it’s a terrible, terrible thing to do to someone else.

You should be giving people an honest look at who you are flaws and all. Yes, you can pick out your best pictures, but you shouldn’t be digitally correcting them to try and mislead the people that you’re talking to. You can edit the photos in terms of brightness and things like that, but do not Photoshop you or any part of your body. It’s just wrong.

Thou shalt not use pictures from years ago.

We all usually look better when we’re younger. We have more hair, are often thinner, and just look more youthful. Here’s the problem. That’s not what you look like anymore. You’re now a bit older and don’t look like those pictures from years ago so stop using them on your online dating profile.

A general rule is that any picture more than 1-year-old needs to go. This does mean that if you’ve been dating online for a while, you may have to take down and update some of your photos. We’re sure that bikini picture of you from Spring Break in college looks great, but that was 5 years ago, so it’s time to get something a little more current.

Thou shalt not use pictures of someone else.

It’s sad that we even have to put this one on the list, but it sadly happens, so we sadly have to put it. That’s way too much sadness for us. If you’re going to date online, you need to use pictures of you.

Trying to deceive someone that you’re talking to into believing you are someone else is just terrible. If you’re not happy with who you are, change who you are. Learn to love yourself before you get involved in online dating because you aren’t going to get what you’re looking for from someone else.

Thou shalt not use pictures taken with a potato camera.

You don’t have to go out and get an expensive camera or get professional photos made for online dating. While some people do and that’s totally cool, don’t feel like you have to. But, you need to make sure that your pictures are at least good enough that people can get an accurate look at what you look like.

If they look like they were taken with some potato camera (slang for a terrible camera) or a camera from the ’90s, it’s time to get some new pictures. Any smartphone these days will have a camera good enough to get some clear pictures that don’t look like they’re copies made of copies made of copies.

Thou shalt not have zero pictures.

Do we really need to explain this one? The point of online dating is for people to get to know you, see what you look like, and decide if they are interested in meeting you in person to get to know you better. If you have no pictures up, you’re really just defeating the whole purpose of online dating.

We do understand if you want to hide your pictures and only send them once you start talking to someone. But, if you do this, make sure you note that in your profile and you send them right away as soon as you start talking. Do expect to get fewer messages, though.

Thou shalt not have only one picture.

This is right along the same lines as what we said for having zero pictures on your online dating profile. One picture is certainly better than zero, but it’s not going to do a great job of showing people what you look like and it’s going to lead people to lack trust in the validity of your profile. We’d say ideally you should have a minimum of 3 photos and not more than 10.

Read: Pictures Aren’t Everything With Online Dating

Thou shalt not have only pictures of your face.

We understand that some of you may have a little extra to love or not be too proud of your physical fitness. While we understand this, we don’t condone trying to hide this from someone that you’re talking to about potentially dating. What do you think is going to happen when you finally meet up? Do you think they’re going to be happy when they realize that you were misrepresenting yourself?

We’re not trying to yell at you or get on a soapbox here, but you should include some accurate pictures of your body type. Love who you are and be proud of how you look. If you don’t like the shape that you’re in, fix it. Don’t try and mislead someone else.

Thou shalt not abuse angles.

We’ve all either seen these pictures or taken them. We’re talking about the pictures that are taken from strange angles from above to try and hide the way we actually look. Here’ the bottom line. Anything you do to your online dating photos to try and hide the way you actually look is dishonest and should (or shalt) not be done. It’s as simple as that. We can’t tell you what to do, but if you want to be an honest person and approach this the right way, then you should really make sure you’re doing this.

Thou shalt choose “honest” pictures.

Piggybacking on what we just said, the purpose of your online dating pictures is to show people what you look like. Yes, you can pick out your best photos, but only if they actually look like you. We’ve seen people before who used real and current pictures of themselves, but the picture still looked nothing like them for whatever reason. While you are following all of the other commandments here (great), you’re still violating this one. Choose photos that actually look like you.

Thou shalt make eye contact with the camera.

This last tip is the only one on the list that you’re free to violate if you want! We added this tip because it can go a long way to getting people to really connect with your photos. We’ve talked to photographers and models who said that the eyes are the key to the soul and when you look at the camera it helps people looking at your photos to feel connected to you.

So, if you don’t want to look at the camera in your photos, that’s totally okay. But, if you want to take the advice that might get you more activity, make sure you’re looking at the camera in some of your online dating photos.

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.