Online Dating: Mistakes men make setting their profile photo

Mistakes men make


When travelling or moving to a new city, it is only natural to want to meet new people. In this digital age, with busy lives, it is quite convenient to connect with people online. After relocating to Montreal, I ventured into the online dating world to see who I might meet. Yet I was overcome with shock, and amused disbelief, at some of the profile photos some men used! Even if I wasn’t having any luck meeting anyone, it certainly was entertaining observing the mistakes men make setting their profile photo.

I noticed a common pattern of unsuccessful profile pictures, which for me, resulted in a definite NO.

So what are some mistakes men make when setting their profile photo? How do women interpret these pictures and what turns us off?

  • A profile photo with a woman

If you use photos which feature you and a woman – we will be wondering what the deal is? Who is she – a current girlfriend, or wife? Are you wanting to cheat? Or do you want a threesome!?

It might appeal to some but for most of us ladies… it is all too confusing.

If you are with a woman in your profile picture, it is an automatic PASS. You’ll be turning ‘off’ your audience.


  • A woman is obviously cut out of the photo

Mistakes men make

One level down from having a photo with a woman, is having a photo of you with a female evidently cut out.

We can see the hair, the hands, heads resting together, but the face is discarded – like it is after a relationship split. OK, she might be your sister? Or just a friend, or even your mum!?

But the thing is, we will still be asking ourselves, who is she? An ex? Otherwise we will just think you are pretty lazy for uploading a photo with someone else cut out.

Avoid misinterpretation and have a profile pic where you are evidently on your own.


  • “Selfie” in the bathroom

Mistakes men make

Ok, sometimes it’s hard to find a great natural picture of yourself.

However “selfies”, especially if it’s in the bathroom with your top off, are an immediate TURN OFF.

It comes across that you are overly confident or arrogant – as if we WANT to see you half naked already, even though we haven’t even met yet.

And as a further turn off, we don’t want to see your toilet cistern in the background.

Also – we can only imagine what you having been doing in the bathroom while you’ve been admiring yourself in the mirror.

Have someone else take your photo in a location other than the bathroom


  • Not smiling

Your profile pic is your biggest selling point online.

You don’t need to look like Ryan Gosling but a smile would be a good start.

We are all attracted to happy people and if you are coming across with a straight poker face, we will worry you lack a sense of humour or that you’re not easy going enough.

Make yourself more appealing with a simple smile


  • Inappropriate Setting

Mistakes men make

Shots of you laying on, or in your bed, has to be one of the worst mistakes to make, if you are looking for anything more serious than a jaunt between the sheets. A picture in bed is presumptuous and simply tacky.

In contrast, if your picture is of you just hanging in your living room, with washing in the background and peeling paint on the walls, we’ll think you have no life and you’ll lack that interest factor.

As for a ‘selfie’ in the car, please, how uninteresting can a profile photo be!?

Include a photo of you outside doing something remotely interesting


  • Your top is off working out 

Mistakes men make

Aside from ‘selfies’ in the bathroom, other shots of naked top halves are often taken in the gym, where you are flexing your muscles and trying to impress us with your bicep size.

It works in the opposite way.

We just think you are really into yourself and maybe on steroids.

Sure you may love the gym, so write that on your profile, but we don’t want to see your half naked body unless we decide to.

Keep your top on!


  • You’re wearing sunglasses and hats

Sure you have some really cool designer sunglasses but when you’re wearing them we can’t see your eyes?

As they say the eyes are the windows to the soul, so if we can’t see your eyes, we are not confident that we can trust you.

If you’re wearing hats in every shot, we’ll know you’re bald. So just be bold and show us what you really look like.

We’ll find out eventually if we meet you.

If you’re going to wear hat and sunglasses, make sure it’s not every picture so we can get a good impression of who you really are


  • Photos with guns or other military innuendo

Mistakes men make

We don’t care what type of gun it is. ANY gun is confronting, as are guys posing in khaki jungle army fatigues.

In this day and age of random terrorist acts, shootings gone mad in the United States and domestic violence at an all time crisis point, this military ‘look’ will make women run a mile.

Do not include ANY weapons in your picture


  • Using an old photo or having NO photo 

Although it hasn’t happened to me (as I haven’t been on many dates as I can’t get past the profile pictures), it is a common thing to hear that people meet up, only to discover the person in the photo is now much older, fatter, bald or has virtually no resemblance whatsoever to who they thought they were meeting.

What a waste of time!

Sure, choose a flattering picture but not one that does not truly represent what you look like.

As for profiles with no photo at all, they are not even going to get a chance or a look in.

Be realistic and use a recent photo


  • Picture with your kids

Um? These sorts of pictures make us really wonder.

Are you guys escaping your partner and newborn, as things are getting a little tough? Or is this your little nephew, Johnny?

Pictures with kids, especially youngsters always begs the question, “Why? Who?”

Include information about relevant offspring in your profile so we can put the photo in context.

Otherwise these photos come across ambiguous and quite simply too complicated to think about.

Contextualise your photos


  • False picture

This one takes the cake. This really is the time where one asks oneself, what am I doing in the online world at all.

I once ‘chatted’ with a guy for a month. Later when I asked him to send more pictures, I ended up with photos that were completely different to the guy in the profile photo. When I asked why the photos were different, I was told he used his cousin’s photo as his profile picture. Turns out he was married.

Then, there are the guys who use a ‘stock photo’ for their profile picture. If the profile picture looks really stylised, like what you would see in a magazine, it is suspicious. For example, there was a guy whose photo looked like he was modelling a watch. He was cute but I smelled a rat. When he made contact, I asked him to send more photos as I had previously been mislead by someone with a false photo. I never heard back.

Then there was the situation where a friend of mine discovered that his photos, from his Facebook account were being used by someone else on a dating site, purporting to be him.

Dishonesty and misrepresentation is simply, pathetic. 

Be yourself, don’t pretend to be someone you are not as you will eventually get found out and it will lead to nothing.


In my experiment, across dating sites, unfortunately there were some profile photos, which made the idea of talking to, let alone meeting these men a concerning proposition. Venturing into this vortex of male options, I discovered a world of “turn-offs,” rather than a world of “potentials.”

I don’t have the space now in this blog to convey some of the things I have seen. It would take awhile to explain how bizarre some photos were – they defied comprehension.

Profile pictures are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the mistakes men make in online dating!

More on “Online Dating” – coming soon on Wing Woman Adventures!


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  • Reply
    Elke Weeks
    July 17, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Hahaha agreed! Other turn offs:
    If all photos are motivational quotes.
    If there is any scream masks, skull and cross bones, poisonous spiders or other scary, weird stuff.

    • Reply
      Sally Watson
      July 21, 2017 at 6:13 am

      WOW! What profile pictures have you seen!? I never saw any of those types of pics….spiders would have me running for the hills!!

  • Reply
    Sue Watson
    June 13, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Great article. Even though I am not in the market for on line dating it sounds like interesting advise for those who are !!

    • Reply
      Sally Watson
      July 21, 2017 at 6:12 am

      Thanks Sue! Probably a good thing you are not in the market for online dating – it can be a jungle out there. But it’s an interesting experience all the same!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Great article!! I was laughing my way through, sometimes in disbelieve that those photos actually are real…

    • Reply
      Sally Watson
      July 21, 2017 at 6:09 am

      Thanks Michaela – yes it’s funny but scary!

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