Remember when asking someone out was a minefield? Building up the courage to approach them, and swallowing your fear of being spurned (however politely)?
Then came along the advent of online and app dating. While technology enables connections that weren’t previously possible, it also comes with new and different neuroses.
Selling yourself in a way which attracts a) mostly positive attention b) a minimum of ridicule whilst c) also being true to yourself and d) looking nice without being too try-hard is TOUGH.
Londoner Saskia Nelson knows all about this. She used online dating on and off for seven years before meeting her boyfriend, and in 2013 she set up Hey Saturday, an award-winning dating photography business.
Aware of how people struggle to get their profile right for them, and the pitfalls many of us have fallen into, she’s shared her 25 dating profile commandments with Mirror Online.
Three or four photos is the magic number to attract people and not put them off. People are put off if you have less than that. And too many photos means you’re opening yourself up to more opportunities to put people off.
Research suggests it’s OK for women to have selfies, whereas with guys it’s considered a turn-off.
Avoid pouting and looking too sexy – natural, genuine smiles are best and avoid showing too much skin (unless you’re in for hook-ups of course).
I wouldn’t recommend having more than one selfie though, as it will start to look like you have no friends.
2. Mirror selfies
So young women might just get away with this, but it’s unlikely guys are going to think you’re serious about finding love.
These kind of selfies suggest you’re into hook-ups. If you’re actually dating with a view to finding love, then drop these from your profile.
Flash photography is said to add SEVEN YEARS to your face so there’s a reason right there to get away from the mirror and head outdoors.
3. Messy backgrounds
These tend to distract people and they don’t know what they’re looking at in the shot. If they are too distracted by other things to see your face, you’ve likely lost them.
How did you find love? Email [email protected] or get in touch via the form at the bottom.
4. More than one person in the shot
Supposing they like the look of your friend more or they don’t like the look of your friends? Another wasted opportunity – you’ll have lost them again.
5. Pictures with children
Whether people want to have children or not is a sore point for lots of people for various reasons.
Having children in shot (no matter whose children they are) just puts the issue on the agenda way too early.
6. Studio portrait shots
I really hope people aren’t still using these, but they certainly were in my day. These shots tend to be too posed and formal.
7. When you’re up a mountain
I can’t see you.
8. Red eye
Eyes are the most important part of your profile photo. It’s where people will look first and where they will unconsciously gauge if they can trust you or not. Having red eye will blow this out the water and turn them off straightaway
9. The ex BADLY cut out of the shot
No one wants to think about the ex at any point. Ever.
Aim for about 50 to 100 words – even on Tinder – and as well as the no-nos below, avoid anything sexy, cliché, negative or that comes across as bragging. Instead use these words to intrigue, engage and delight
10. These clichés
Any clichés involving red wine, fireplaces or curry and movies, or walking along empty beaches are to be avoided.
11. “I can’t believe I’m online dating!”
Don’t criticise online dating, you’ll be offending everyone you meet!
12. “I’m looking for the whole package”
Isn’t everyone? You’re setting the bar very high, it’s going to put most people off.
13. “If you’re neurotic, don’t get in touch!”
You sound bitter and negative. Not much fun to be around!
14. “I just got out of a long committed relationship”
Sounds like a potential for a whole lot of ex drama plus anyone who is looking to get into a committed relationship is going to give you a wide berth too because they figure you’ll be at the ‘trying different options’ stage
15. “I’m looking for the one“
You’ll scare the whole world off with that one. Anyone you do attract will probably be needy and desperate.
16. “I love life / I live life to the fullest”
What does this even mean? It’s a meaningless phrase that doesn’t give anyone an insight into the real you.
17. “I love fine dining”
Same as above, it’s meaningless.
18. “I work hard, play hard “
It sounds arrogant for starters- plus is there any room in your life for someone new?
19. “What you see is what you get”
What does that even mean? You’re simple? You’re honest? You’re shallow? It’s just meaningless without context and it’s too boring to warrant any context.
20. “I don’t watch television” followed by an exhaustingly hip list of things they like to do (like playing the sitar)
Now you’re trying too hard.
21. Be interested and interesting
This is my rule of thumb for most things in life but especially when it comes to dating.
Everything doesn’t always need to be about you. You could try asking a question in your profile giving people a reason and making it easy for them to get in touch with you.
22. The eyes stand out
It’s where people’s eyes are drawn to first. Make it count.
23. Natural, genuine smiles
There is nothing more attractive in a dating profile than someone having a real laugh.
24. Keep it real
Don’t say things on your profile that you think other people want to hear if they’re not necessarily true.
According to Match, the biggest reason for people not getting second dates following a first one is unmet expectations.
25. Tell a story
Use your photos, where you can, to help tell the story of who you are. You might include, for example, some photos of you in a coffee shop, browsing the market, reading your favourite book etc.
Keep the faith, and good luck!
Saskia Nelson is the talent behind the award-winning and internationally acclaimed Hey Saturday, the UK’s coolest dating photography business, specialising in creating dating photos that win dates for 100s of single people. She is also the co-founder of Irresistible Dating.
She’s been credited by Time magazine for creating the genre of dating photography and is recognised as the leading industry expert in the UK & US on all things dating photo related.
She also puts her extensive online dating experiences to good use by sharing her experiences and wisdom on her blog.