Finding love on the internet can be as simple as choosing the right photograph. Here, our relationship and online dating expert reveals the shots that are sure to trigger Cupid’s bow.

If you find yourself back on the singles scene, you might be tempted to feel it’s all wildly different today. It’s not. In the words of Nat King Cole, “You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss…

The fundamental things apply to finding love, whether you’re looking for it in real life, or searching for it through an online dating site. And the most fundamental thing about love is: attraction is visual.

When they’re creating an online dating profile, most people spend 80 per cent of their time writing a brilliant description of themselves, and 20 per cent of the time choosing their photos. That’s the wrong way round. Photos make or break your chances of finding love online. Just like in real life, we’re all attracted to people by how they look first, and then either drawn in or repelled by their personality afterwards.

This doesn’t mean you have to be gorgeous (though, it helps). It just means that you can maximise your chances of getting attention online simply by choosing the best photos. Here’s how to do it.

 

1. A clear headshot

Most online dating sites will require you to have a clear headshot to use as your main profile picture. But what they won’t tell you is the best headshots work well at a large size (like on a computer monitor) and at a tiny size (like on a smartphone screen) too.

Why? Most of the popular dating websites are expanding their services to offer dating apps as well. A dating app is just an online dating site that’s been optimised to work with a smartphone or tablet.

Dating apps are wildly popular today, and the attraction is obvious: they allow you to look for love wherever you go. Stuck on a bus? Fill the time by answering dating messages! Waiting at the dentist? Search for singles in your local area! It quickly becomes addictive. (Yes, this is the reason that everyone you see under 30 these days has their face constantly jammed into their phone, and has lost the ability to talk.)

Any photo you use for your headshot has to work well at all sizes, so you look as alluring when smiling from the screen of a home PC as you do when gazing out of a tiny Apple Watch. Choose a clear, close-up image of your face. Don’t choose a photo where you’re wearing sunglasses or a hat—they’re too concealing. And don’t choose a photo where you’re standing next to someone (we’ll get suspicious), or where you’ve savagely cropped somebody out (we’ll get even more suspicious).

If you want help choosing a photo, ask a platonic friend’s opinion.

 

2. Colour or black and white? It depends who’s looking

Men and women respond to different types of photos. For example, men tend to be drawn to photographs containing lots of vivid colour. So, if you’re trying to attract men to your profile, ensure you’re wearing a bright outfit, or are against a colourful background.

Women, however, appear to like the more brooding effect of men’s faces photographed in black and white. So if you’re trying to win over the ladies, try using black-and-white photos. (One rule: you’re not allowed to use photographs so old that black and white was the only option—OK?).

Men and women also differ in their opinions on selfies (self-portrait photos). In general, men don’t seem to mind looking at selfie photos of women—they seem to vie them as quite intimate, revealing shots, that are like getting a private glimpse into someone’s world. In contrast, women view selfies as evidence that a man had no friends to take a photo. So, we’re different.

The best thing to do is to try a selection of different photos on your profile and see which work best for you. You can edit and change your photos all the time. I’d encourage it! Updating the pictures and words in your profile is a great way to keep it looking fresh.

 

3. Accuracy is everything

When you’re single, you can lose your usual confidence, and start panicking that you don’t have what it takes to appeal to a wide audience. In this state, it’s tempting to fib. You might crop your photos to hide a bald spot, or choose only pictures taken above your (slightly expansive) waist. You might even choose a photo of someone else.

Should you? No. Your photos need to look like the person who’ll show up on the first date. If they don’t, the date will be a disaster because the other person will have unmet expectations. Even if they genuinely like the look of the real you, they’ll be disappointed because you’ve shown that you can be deceptive. And that will break their trust, right from the first moment.

To avoid the temptation to bend the truth, bend your thinking instead: you’re not trying to appeal to half the population—just to one person. One person who doesn’t mind bald spots or middle-aged spreads, and is happy to spend an evening with them. Or a lifetime!

 

You can read more from Kate on her website

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