Self-ie Sabotage

photos advice dating

Selfies: Rate or Hate?

A marmite-esque situation. This divides the nation like no other. Can one gender do it more than the other? What really is the issue with a selfie-and should you include them on your profile? 

First things first, I am not trash-talking the existence of the selfie in general here. If you are in a beautiful place somewhere in the world and want a photo, by all means, take a selfie. If you are out with friends and want to remember a fun moment, again selfie-away. A selfie is absolutely appropriate at a special moment in time, or a special place - if my sister was at the Eiffel tower, I want to see a picture or selfie of her with it. If I wanted to see a photo of only the Eiffle tower I could just google it. The presence of the person important to me makes the photo special and selfies can be great! (They can also be truly terrible...)

Taking pictures of yourself is pretty harmless and I do think a lot of the hand wringing criticism of them comes from a place of misogyny. People see selfies as more frivolous and vain, as they are heavily associated with teenage girls and young women caring too much about how they look (despite the fact that the world tells them it's really important for women to look good). If you feel good in an outfit or your hair is sitting well or just feel good, taking a photo should not be frowned upon! You're never too old to learn to feel good about the way you look.

However, when it comes to selecting photos for your dating profile, a selfie consisting of one person against a plain background is overdone and honestly, it is BORING. If there are 10 photos of 10 different men, 9 dimly-lit-bad-quality selfies and 1 smiling headshot in good lighting, which one will stand out? (I will give you a clue it is not one of the selfies).

But why are selfies so bad?

Selfies do carry negative connotations on dating apps. The danger of selfies is that they are a major turn off to some people, especially if they're all of you in the same place, from the same angle on your face, or if they're all really bad quality photos. Don't risk it! Getting a friend to take a photo for you creates a much more natural position, and avoids the bad angles. Or use a timer, read our blog post to learn how to be your own photographer!

On a dating app, users just want to be able to get a solid idea of what you look and have this reinforced over multiple pictures. They also want to be reassured that you didn't sit in your dark bedroom taking webcam screenshots and think to yourself, "these will do." If your own face is literally the only thing you ever want to take a photo of, where are your friends, family? Your pets? Your coffee and food? A tree? Mix it up a bit. Users will look for contextual clues to the person in their photos, so 'all selfies' usually means all pictures in the house or car, and nothing that shows me their personality, what they like to do, and if they have any friends.

Honestly, for me, the problem with selfies isn't actually that they're selfies. It's that no one knows how to take a selfie. If it's a touristy picture and you're posing with a landmark, more often than not it is terrible quality, but at least the picture is more interesting because of the background. Your bathroom wall can't make up for your bad photo skills. As always, the physical attraction to the subject of the photo is more important than picture type, however, a selfie commonly does not portray you well. It is often too dark, too close, too forced. These things are not as commonly seen with a normal photo. is it worth the risk? Your online dating pictures need to be clear and present who you are.

If you do opt for the selfie route, I have the same selfie rules for men and women.

  1. Make sure all your photos aren't selfies.

  2. If there are selfies, they need to have a good background (eg: beach, cool city, etc) this makes for a much more interesting photo.

  3. If it's just like 10 photos of you, by yourself at home... red flags.

  4. Fix the angle! The weird and wonderful angles I have seen on dating profiles still amaze me - at this point, it is self-ie sabotage!

I am not against the selfie in principle. However, I did just stumble upon a photo of a guy on a dating app who's only picture was a selfie he took from a weird angle while wearing an ill-fitting plain coloured t-shirt with a completely blank white wall as a background. At least try to make the picture a little interesting.

Photo: DATEnhance 

The Bathroom Selfie 

This kind of selfie takes the cake. The classic mirror selfie. This style of image screams a few things to me. You are putting minimal effort into your dating profile, taking a selfie in the mirror is super lazy/low effort. You are vain, you think that you are attractive... which isn't necessarily bad but people like humility. People prefer a hot guy who doesn't know he's hot. Finally, mirror selfies almost always have dark lighting or uplighting. This is a creepy vibe. You need some natural light!

The reason why many people don't like it is because most (not all) of those who post many selfies of this nature end up being undesirable matches in some way, shape, or form. (Ex. Some are arrogant,  shallow, unable to talk about something unrelated to fitness, etc.).

Shirtless selfies will get you 25% fewer matches than those where you're wearing a T-shirt. Unbelievable, isn't it? 

Try this instead of taking bad selfies

It can be hard to get photos of yourself if you are single, especially if you are a guy and don't want to ask your friends to take pics of you. If you have a smartphone, you have the technology to up your photo game if you do the following:

  1. Find a nice setting: park bench, your front porch, even a nice chair in your living room. NOT a mirror in your bathroom or otherwise.

  2. Get creative and find an object you can use to prop up your phone a few feet away from your spot, where the camera will be level with your shoulders and face. Maybe a piece of furniture. At a park, you can use playground equipment, a tree with a convenient branch point, or get professional with a tripod! 

  3. Prop up your phone, turn it to selfie mode and go stand or sit where you plan to pose in your picture. While looking at your image on your phone, play around with your pose until you find one that looks relaxed and confident--experiment with your smile/facial expressions, angle of your face, etc.

  4. Go back to your phone and turn on the 10-sec delay feature.

  5. Get ready...hit the shutter button and use the 10-second countdown to get yourself to your spot, get in position, smile, etc.

  6. Look directly at the camera when the photo takes.

  7. Take at least 10 shots like this and choose the best one.

  8. Change your clothes, find another background, change your pose, and do it again.

Take all this advice and learn from it! There are always ways that you can improve your profile! Snap a few good photos then upload your images to DATEnhance for user feedback!