Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Put Too Much Stock in a Profile Picture

Online dating profiles are hotbeds of superficiality.

The whole page revolves around the photos, and even the most open-minded users usually check the physical appearance before they read any text.

This kind of browsing doesn’t make you a bad person—after all, attraction/chemistry/whatever you want to call it is mostly physical.

But it does create problems.

To understand how, think about how “real world” dating works. You meet a guy at a party, or a bar, or the bank, and here’s what you know about him: what he looks like.

How many times have you found yourself 30 minutes into an amazing conversation when a guy casually mentions his girlfriend? Or what about the guys you go out with four or five times before you realize your religious differences/educational backgrounds/grooming habits make you totally incompatible?

Attractive people can be intoxicating, and there’s nothing like making out with a guy you could’ve sworn had a bit role on The OC.

But in the moment, isn’t it just like kissing anyone else? And more of a self-esteem boost/story to tell your friends than a wildly passionate encounter?

Judging potential partners on looks alone has a time and place. But if that time and place is OKCupid, you’re kind of missing out on the advantages that belong exclusively to the cyber world of romance.

The whole point of these sites is that you know, before you even message back, that SustekStaffer27 is purportedly single (and if he’s taken, so sociopathic about hiding it that you wouldn’t fare any better if you met him at a happy hour), that he shares some of your outlooks on life (i.e., has aspirations beyond getting drunk, tan, and/or laid), and that his interests could be compatible with yours. You don’t have to go on three awkward dates before you realize that he only likes to play video games in his free time, and you get to see answers to questions you could never get away with asking early on (e.g., where he sees himself in 10 years, whether he wants to get married, how old he is).

That’s not to say that you can’t write some people off based on what they look like. There are some people you’ll just never be attracted to—maybe your first boyfriend had hazel eyes and traumatic headgear, and you always associate blue/green irises with the time your braces got stuck together.

If you find someone physically repulsing,  you might be fighting an uphill battle if you try to let his personality make up for it.

But if he looks great on paper and his picture only elicits a, “meh,” don’t be so quick to write him off completely.

It’s amazing how quickly you can become attracted to someone who didn’t knock you off your feet the first time you saw him. A funny, charming persona can be much more seductive than those mile-deep blue eyes. And on the flip side, anyone can get used to beauty, and the more time you spend with a physical trainer, the more ordinary he starts to look.

That’s not to say that you should spend your days pining over every profile you come across, or messaging guys you’re not immediately attracted to. But if a guy messages you, try to read his profile before checking out the pictures. And if the words line up, but the photos leave something to be desired, remind yourself what you’re looking for.

If you’re not looking for more than a few hookups, by all means, weight the photos. But if you’re looking for a successful relationship, consider giving guy who looks good on paper a chance.

1 comment:

  1. I gave a guy that looked good on paper a chance and it left me abandoned, broke, and in a house I couldn't afford.