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When Profile Pics Deceive: What it Says About a Person

One of the most consistent problems in online dating: you show up to finally meet that new person and they look different than they did in their profile photos. If you’re the one using photos that don’t truly represent what you look like now, what does it say about you?

You’re afraid you can’t attract good dates based on what you look like now.
If this is your fear, it may not be crazy. If you looked more attractive in the past (based on purely conventional standards endorsed by society), perhaps there are some people who would have dated you then but wouldn’t date you now. Remember, however, that false advertising is a strategy that always backfires. You could potentially lock in a date, but your date will be frustrated that you misrepresented yourself and they usually won’t ask for a second one.

You feel insecure about how appealing you are overall as a potential romantic partner.
Pictures are a crucial component in giving others a sense of what you look like. They aren’t, however, crucial in determining whether two people will get along and mesh as a romantic couple. In other words, you don’t want someone who wants to be with you for the way you look. (If the personality match is not there, it simply won’t last.) Post honest, up-to-date pictures of yourself so that you can eliminate the annoying possibility that so-and-so shows up and decides they don’t want to give you a second chance because your pictures look nothing like the real you.

You try to tell yourself you “forgot” to update your pictures.
If your goal is to find a romantic relationship that is good (which is a great goal, by the way), don’t overthink things. Don’t fall into fantasies or silly excuses; be strategic and make wise investments. People will like and trust you more when you are real and honest.

You don’t care about tricking people.
If your profile includes pictures that don’t show the real you today, you are tricking people. Perhaps you don’t mean to, or perhaps there is a way you justify this behavior to yourself. At the end of the day, though, it is not a strategy that makes sense. The vast majority of men or women that show up for that first date with you will feel confused or even angry that you weren’t more honest about your appearance. Reaching that point of frustration or distrust on the first date, most sane people will not give you another chance.

You tell yourself that your pictures shouldn’t matter that much because appearance shouldn’t matter that much anyhow.
For a split second, this sounds like a very sophisticated argument. But when we dig deeper we find that this argument isn’t one that makes sense. If you tell yourself that your pics not being accurate shouldn’t matter in the big picture, you may be right on an ideological level. The problem is that dating is not a game, or a television show with contestants. Like it or not, we are all stuck in r-e-a-l life, and people are busy in their real lives. Using pictures that don’t look like you wastes your own and other’s time. Pictures are used to give others a sense of what this individual in cyberspace actually looks like in real life. You will get a name, a picture, and some information – and all of it is important in combination as two people try to figure out whether they could actually make a grownup relationship work.

Why posting the most honest, least airbrushed pictures may get your more dates
If you follow my blog here at eHarmony, you know one of my most pivotal principles: True confidence and self-esteem are the biggest turn-ons of all. Sure, your date may be physically attracted to a particular celebrity, or even a super-attractive individual they encounter from time to time. But the reality is that people have personalities, and having the wrong personality in the most appealing body won’t last long. All each of us really wants at the end of a long, chaos-filled day is to get home to someone who actually cares how we are doing, who makes us laugh and feel safe.

Collectively, let’s try to focus less on appearance and physical attractiveness. Perhaps if we focus more on personality, some men and women will also come to be more real and honest about the profile pictures they use. I’ve heard some say that life is short, and there may be some value in considering that when it comes to our romantic life. If we want something, and what we want isn’t overly specific or unrealistic, we should probably be able to get it, right?

 

book_Dr_Seths_Love_Prescription_lgAbout the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.