Online Dating Sites Reveal What Makes The Best Online Dating Profile Photos

by Lynnette

self-portraits, taking pictures

Your main profile photo is the #1 most important thing in your online dating profile!

That said, I find it really interesting that men and women have such different approaches when it comes to choosing their online dating profile photos.

For example, while 2/3rds of women smile in their profile photos, 2/3rds of men don’t.

Also, a flirty expression is rare among both men and women. (Who knew?)

So, what’s the right way to go about choosing the best profile photo? Should you smile… or not smile? Be flirty… or not be flirty?

What other things are important, in terms of online dating success?

If you’re trying to decide which photo to use for your own online dating profile, then you’ll appreciate these tips!

Recent research reveals a few surprising truths about online dating profile photos and online dating success…

#1 – Smiling & Flirting Works For Women, Not For Men

Men’s online dating photos are judged very differently than women’s, when it comes to smiles and facial expressions.

For women…

A smiling photo is a good idea. Not just any smile will do, though. When the smile is slightly flirty or suggestive and appears to be directed at the person viewing the picture, men respond enthusiastically.

Many women, though, merely smile in a friendly way in their pictures without the appearance of any romance or flirtiness.

Often, they also look slightly away from the camera. Neither approach gets good results.

Some women tend to show a pleasantly flirtatious smile, but neglect to directly look at the camera. These pictures tend to not be successful, either.

For men…

Women respond best to men’s photos when the men don’t actually smile or make eye contact with the camera.

When men have a flirty expression in their photos, it usually doesn’t make a difference to their success rates.

A flirty look directed away from the viewer can be bad for men, though.

The bottom line for men and women: it’s all in the eyes! So just be sure to look at the camera and have a genuinely happy facial expression.

#2 – Selfies Work Well For Women

Many people believe that the typical selfie — holding the camera slightly above your head, often in front of a mirror — is a tasteless way to present yourself in your online dating profile.

Men, however, tend to respond enthusiastically to women who post selfies. Online dating research indicates that these pictures tend to get a great response.


Pictures of women taken outdoors work very well, too.

Interestingly, profile photos of women with friends, with a pet, or with a drink do poorly on online dating sites.

Must read: 4 Ways To Take The Best Selfies

#3 – Show Some Skin, But Age Matters

Men try to show off their abs by taking off their shirts. Women tend to show off their cleavage by wearing low-cut tops and dresses.

For men…

Shirtless photos work very well. Specifically, photos of men showing off their abs are popular on dating sites.

Many people assume that women couldn’t possibly want to respond to a photo of a stranger with his shirt off. However, shirtless photos of men actually get the most attention from the women on dating sites. (Your photo does need to show a perfectly toned body, though.)

Unfortunately, the shirtless photo idea usually doesn’t work well for men over 31. Women seem to respond better to seeing self-restraint and maturity in men over the age of 31.

For women…

It’s the same with women.

Cleavage-baring tops tend to be very successful choices for online dating photos — especially for younger women.

For women who are older, slightly more conservative photos showing less cleavage tend work better.

In general, women daters tend to get fewer responses to their ads as they grow older. However, when older women post cleavage shots, their responses don’t decrease as rapidly.

#4 – Do Something Interesting

It helps if you’re doing something interesting in your dating profile photo.

For both men and women, simply standing in front of the camera and smiling doesn’t get very good results. Try to appeal to the viewer with more than just your face or your body — so do something that shows you to be interesting.


For example, your profile photo could show you working in your garden, reading a good book, sitting on a motorcycle, making something interesting in the kitchen, or playing a musical instrument. Whatever you’re most passionate about, consider including that in your profile photo.

That way, you look like you have something to offer other than just your looks.

This is especially important if you’re older.

#5 – Your Face Doesn’t Necessarily Have To Show

If you can come up with an intriguing shot for your photo, then your face doesn’t necessarily have to be a part of it.

This is true for both men’s and women’s dating profile photos.

For example, a photo taken from a distance — that shows you lifting a huge weight in the gym with your back to the camera, or maybe a shot just of your beautiful hair — can work, if the photo is well done.

Believe it or not, faceless profiles tend to be even more successful than profiles with full face photos. A faceless photo gives you an air of mystery.

More Online Dating Profile Photo Tips