Your Online Dating Pictures are Terrible

Niki Marinis

And they’re ruining your chances of finding love

Photo Art by Katie Dutch

We live in a swiping, instant gratification world. You have about three seconds to make an impression in the dating marketplace and you’re going to want to make them count by putting your best foot forward.

And by best foot, I mean face.

You want to have the best pictures of yourself up in the first three choices on any platform. If you haven’t intrigued me in the first three then I probably won’t bother with the rest, and I’ll be on to the next guy.

It’s cut-throat. You gotta adapt.

If you’re not having any luck in the dating world it could be because your pictures are terrible. Here’s some choices NOT to make when it comes to profile pictures.


Right out the gate, if you don’t even have a picture up then you’re already shooting yourself in that foot I was talking about.

I had a serious conversation with a guy on OKCupid who didn’t realize it was important to have a picture. He thought it was about getting to know someone.

And while it is, WE STILL WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE. Especially if WE went to all the trouble to curate the best pictures of ourselves.

You’re selling yourself. Always. Remember that. So present your best self.

I hope your best self isn’t a blank space. Or a meme. Stop it with that shit, too.

No memes, no sunsets, no blank spaces. Your main profile pic should be your face, and the next two should be your face and/or body. You want to see the whole package, and so do we.


If you use a group shot you’re not the cute one in it, guaranteed.

“Oh, I bet he’s this super cute guy right there.” Swipes right for more.

“Oh. Nope.” NEXT

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? WE DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE YOU ARE. This is not a good first impression.

Use a group shot later in your series but NOT as the first one. This gets an automatic swipe left for me. Don’t waste my time.


We don’t want to play guess who as an introduction. Throw that fun group shot in later, not first.

Don’t use a group shot even if you’re the only guy in it. We don’t want our first introduction to be a picture of you with a bunch of other women, even if they’re your sisters. Because WE DON’T KNOW THAT.

You’re not impressing us, you’re actually putting us off. That may impress your guy buddies, but it’s not gonna impress potential dates. Make it simple on yourself and just use a great picture of your face.


For the love of all that’s holy, use a recent picture, within the last year at most.

Ladies, if you’ve ever wondered why a guy immediately asks you to send him a selfie once you start communicating outside of the dating app, it’s because they want proof you look like the pictures you posted. Or they’re pervs who just want to wank it to your pics before they go to bed. Either or.


If you’re not a fan of your appearance, then get to work on that. Update your wardrobe, get a new haircut, start Jazzercizing. Do what’s going to make YOU feel confident.


For chrissake, smile. Look approachable and fun.

This is not your high school football program picture or a mugshot. There is no need to look intimidating, angry, boring or bland.

Have some kind of expression that would make someone want to get to know you. “STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CAR” is not that expression.

I dunno, look… interested? Interesting? Happy? Like someone another person would want to get to know?

“Well, Niki, I’m not a happy person. I’m swirling in the melancholy void that is life and I hate myself.”

Hey, I’m clinically depressed, too, man. But I don’t LEAD with that.

If you’re truly having overwhelming issues then dating might be something to hold off on, because I can tell you right now, it won’t cure you. It is not the answer to your prayers. Work on feeling great about yourself, as hard as I know that can be.

What you are is who you’ll attract. Water seeks its own level. Like attracts like. The Universe doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you what you are.


If you can have six pictures they shouldn’t all be from different angles in the front seat of your car. What’s interesting about that? What does that show me about who you are? That right there says you’re lazy, lame, boring and impatient.

Online dating is not a speed race. You’re not going to find the love of your life in the next 30 seconds after you upload your profile. For the love of God, put some thought into your picture choices.

Different angles, different locations, different events.

Showcase a slice of your life. If you don’t really have much of one, then I can tell you why you’re single. Get out there and live it and take some pictures.


No one wants to see five square close-ups of your face. It makes it look like you’re hiding something.

“But, I am, Niki.”

Well, guess what? We can tell!

Embrace who you are. If you’re serious about finding someone to actually meet in real life for an actual date, they’re gonna see all of you. Be proud of who you are and how you look, even if you’re a work in progress.

Fuck anyone who can’t handle it.

Don’t like it? Next!

Someone out there is super into exactly how you look. If you met someone in a bar or at the store they would see the whole you. Treat online dating the same way.


We don’t care. Unless you’re looking for the type of person who cares what kind of car you drive, then you do you.

If cars are your life then throw one in your series towards the end and make sure you’re in it. But don’t make this your profile pic.


Unless the focus of the picture is YOU.

We love our pets and want to be with someone who does, too. But you should always be the focus of your profile pic, and if you have a great shot of the both of you then you can throw that in later in the series, as well.

And make sure it’s your pet and not a friends. Nothing is more disappointing than finding out that cute cat isn’t even yours.

Except for maybe your America’s Most Wanted status.


Especially if they’re not yours. A pic of you and a baby says, “This is my baby”, not “This is actually my niece.” Stop it. First impressions, remember?

Someone is going to swipe your pics before reading your bio.

Many people don’t want to date someone with a kid, and if they swipe through and see you with one, they’re going to bail before they read your bio and find out it’s your nephew.

Even if you DO have kids, be careful about sharing pictures of them on a friggen’ dating site. Their safety and identity need to be a priority over scoring a hot date.


You look like you’re a couple. If that’s not a look you’re going for in the dating scene, nix duo shots.

My BFF is a dude and I wouldn’t put a picture of just the two of us on my profile because NO ONE KNOWS he’s just my BFF. This is about first impressions and a picture of you and one other person says you’re a couple. Don’t do it.


Is that really the best picture of you available? Really? Crop them completely out or, better yet, use any other picture in the world.

A blurred out face kinda says, “I’m not over my ex”, “Fuck you to my ex”, “I’m still kinda angry and bitter.”

Knock it off. Find or take a brand new great picture of yourself and let the past go.


Some of these dudes are wearing sunglasses in every single picture.

WHY? Are you Ray Charles? Are you Stevie Wonder?

Are you legitimately blind? If so, then Go Team. But if not, knock this fucking shit off. ESPECIALLY in your profile picture.

We want to see you face and your eyes. Know what obstructs your face and your eyes? A hat and sunglasses.

Or ski goggles, a motorcycle helmet, a pandemic mask, ANYTHING THAT COVERS UP YOUR FACE SO WE CAN’T SEE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE.

And honestly, a backwards hat and sunglasses says, “I’m still a high school child.”

Stop it. Just, just please, stop it.


This isn’t National Geographic. We don’t care about your vacation photos of Matchu Pitchu or the Pyramids, unless you’re in them. Even then, only use ONE of these kind of pictures.

Yes, you want to impress, but you don’t want to brag. We get it, you like to travel. One travel photo will get that point across.

Are you a photographer? Great! Use a picture of you taking pictures. Meta. In your studio, on location, with your equipment. Don’t use up your dating pictures with pictures of things that aren’t you.


I had no idea so many grown men were actually 12 year old girls.

It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s dumb, and you’re cliche and lame. Unless those are qualities you’re looking for in a partner, then go to town, I guess.


Holy God, no one fucking cares what D-list rock stars you met. Do you know what having a bunch of pictures of you with celebrities says? That you don’t have a personality.

You think, “Hey, look who I met once!” says something about YOU. It doesn’t.

Oh, you’re best friends with Billy Idol? Cool story, bro. That doesn’t tell me anything about who YOU are. That tells me you seek outside validation and are into appearances, not substance.

I’ve been to concerts, too. Oh, you work at the theater where you got all these celeb selfies? I didn’t think I could become even less impressed than I was before, but here we are.

Sensei from Cobra Kai will take his pic with anyone who comes up to his table on Allen Street in Tombstone, man. C’mon now.

Showcase your love of Karate Kid and pop culture. That’s a personality.


You and a fish, you and zoo animal of your choice, you doing yoga, hiking, sky diving, surfing, skateboarding… none of that is particularly creative or interesting, and shouldn’t be your profile pic.

If you truly love fishing, if yoga and hiking and surfing are truly WHO YOU ARE as a person, and fill up most of your time in life, then throw one in your series. But don’t add these if you just went skateboarding once five years ago, or were forced to go on a hike with friends, or tried yoga that one time.

Remember that everyone is using these kinds of pictures.

Do you want to look like everyone else and remain forgettable and lost in the crowd, or do you want to have a personality and stand out? Be unique, be creative, be different, be YOU.

Take pride in who you are and how you look and showcase your best self. Also, wipe down the bathroom mirror, clean off the counter, and close the toilet lid. You’ll thank me later.

Follow these handy tips and watch your online dating matches improve by leaps and bounds! Let me know how it works out for you.

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I'm an original. A Warhol. You're just a print. I like thrift store owls, true crime, and breaking hearts.

Ventura, CA

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