8 Profile Pictures that Help You Meet More Women

Hey Em,

I feel like girls just want the most attractive guys on OKCupid. I’m not a male model and I don’t have a six pack.

What profile pictures should I post to have a shot at this?
— Andrew

Hey Andrew!  You're definitely right about one thing: 

You’ll win or lose a woman’s attention with your profile pictures.  But it’s not for the reason you think.  You don’t have to be ridiculously good-looking to be successful at online dating.

In fact, the most attractive men can be at a disadvantage in online dating.  Women prefer to message guys of “average” good looks more often than they do the “most attractive” men, says OKCupid’s study “Your Looks and Your Inbox.”

If you’re a normal guy, you’re ahead of the game.

Then why do so many guys post Zoolander selfies, shirtless gym pics, and professionally photographed headshots?  They’re trying too hard – and it shows.  The woman you’re looking for doesn’t care about that stuff.

What does increase your odds of meeting more women in person is when your pictures show your hobbies, your sense of humor, your full life, pets, and interests.  More than any selfie, these profile pictures show women how you’re unique and interesting.  They tell us that we have things in common with you, lots to talk about, and that it looks like fun to hang out with you.

Here are the 8 profile pictures that actually help you win at online dating:

1)  You being active / doing something you love. 

Smart guys make their pics work double-time: showing their appearance and their interests.  OKCupid’s research on successful profile pictures shows that men are twice as likely to meet women in person when you post pictures of yourself “doing something interesting” instead of “drinking” (a standard stand-by photo).

Why this works:  You’re showing women how you lead a full, engaging life – and that you potentially share some common interests.  When your pictures create topics of conversation, she won’t have to think hard about how to respond to your message.  And the easier you make it for her to respond, the better.  Next thing you know, you two are chatting away about your favorite rock climbing spots nearby.

Do you have photos from the last time you went rock climbing?  Coached your nephew’s soccer team?  Played Dominion?  Show us! 

If you don’t have photos of you doing something you enjoy, get some!  Next time you’re geocaching or in the midst of a game night, have a friend take a couple pics.  

2)  You, not alone.  

When a guy’s profile pictures are all selfies, women assume he’s a massive narcissist – or worse, that he doesn’t have any friends.  One or two photos of you with friends, looking happy and natural, are way better than a profile full of boring, posed selfies, with no friends or interests.

Why this works:  Women want to know a guy’s capable of having healthy relationships – and that he doesn’t care only about himself.  When a few photos show your cycling team, volunteer group, or others who clearly enjoy spending time with you, women can feel fairly confident you’re not a sociopath.  (Which really increases your odds of meeting more women in person!)

If you haven’t checked out the photos tagged of you on Facebook lately, take a look again.  Your goal isn’t to look perfect in every one.  It’s OK if you and your buddy are beet-red and sunburned from a day of fishing.  The goal is to prove you’re a normal, happy guy with friends who enjoy your company.

One note: try to keep big group pictures to a minimum.  Group shots make it difficult for women to spot you; it gets annoying when every photo is like Where’s Waldo?  A photo of you and one or two friends is ideal. 

3)  You with your family. 

This works like a powered-up version of photos with friends.  At the next holiday, grab your brother, a couple cousins, or your grandfather.  Have someone take the photo close-up, so you’re easily recognizable, and put your arm around Grandpa. 

Why this works:  Women love family pics because we instantly assume you’re close with your family, a caring son, a good brother, and a sweet grandson. Basically, that you’re one of the good guys.  Good guys make good boyfriends.

A photo of you with your adorable niece, nephew, or friend’s kid is also great subliminal messaging.  It implies you’re good with kids and therefore would be a great dad.  (Upload with caution, though: you may attract some wife-ready women, so be sure that’s what you’re looking for.)

4)  You with your pets.  

Credit: Wired

Credit: Wired

According to OKCupid, photos with animals are even better for getting women to meet in person than your photos of “doing something interesting.”  So round up the nearest dog, cat, or baby elephant and let the magic happen.

Why this works:  Guys who are kind to animals are hot, no question about it.  You give off a vibe that’s caring yet playful…gentle yet protective…easy-going yet responsible.  Swoon.  Plus, when women see a cute guy cuddled up to a snuggly animal, we imagine how good you’ll be at cuddling us.

5)  Your full body shot. 

This is an online dating best practice because it’s common decency.  Women want to know what you actually look like.  You get nervous when all of a woman’s photos are cropped right below her cleavage, right?  You know she’s hiding something, and it’s not a wooden leg. 

Unless you want women to be suspicious of you, post at least one photo showing your full body.

Why this works:  Women want to know you’re an honest, genuine person.  Lots of creeps post deceptive photos, or lie on their profiles.  After a couple bad dates, women are sick of this.  When we see you’re confident and honest about who you are, we’re into that.

The most useful online dating profile pictures?

6)  Are flattering. 

Yes: duh.  But tons of guys post deliberately unflattering photos, looking super drunk, making ugly faces, whatever.  If they’re trying to beat women to the punch by giving us reasons to reject them, it’s working.  But what’s the point of online dating, then?

It’s okay if you’ve got a goofy snorkeling photo or a picture of you on Halloween as a hunchback.  You should show your interests and personality.  Just don’t let those less flattering photos outnumber the ones that prove you’re way hotter than Quasimodo.

7)  Are genuine.  

Happiness is attractive!  Multiple stone-faced selfies in the gym mirror make a guy look dull.  And five emo-pout photos in a row get tiresome.  Show women that you like to be happy.  We want to know what you look like when you’re having a great time – so we can imagine how fun it’ll be right there next to you. 

8)  Are accurate / recent. 

Some guys choose photos that make them seem “better looking” in some way.  They might hide their beer gut, crooked teeth, or bald spot.  This is a major bummer for two reasons:

1) When a guy chooses deceptive profile pictures, and then meets a date in person, she’ll see he lied to her.  Lying by omission is not a good way to start a relationship – but he probably won’t make it to a second date at all.

2) He’s losing opportunities to meet women who like his so-called flaws!  Crooked teeth can be raffish, bald can be sexy, and some extra weight can be great for cuddling.

Show your physical appearance and age with honesty.  Women will find your self-confidence really attractive.

Online dating is one place where you get to be yourself.  Be who you are – so the right woman can find you! 

Now get out there and start sending some awesome messages to match your awesome profile pictures.

READ MORE Profile & Photo Tips

READ MORE Questions of the Week