Ok, so you’ve got your profile exactly how you want it. You’re looking fly as hell in your pics. Your bio looks like it was written by an emotionally available, witty, flirtatious god, and you’re ready to go live… but then you realize that all of your photos are solo.
Are your matches going to assume you’re a loner who never leaves the basement, maybe doing a bit of light serial killing in your spare time? Perhaps… but it’s probably not as much of a problem as you think.
Hi, I’m Chloe. I have a masters degree in clinical social work and I’m trudging towards that ever elusive PhD in clinical psychology. As a dating coach, I help people improve their match rates on apps, and as a researcher I spend my evenings digging through existing data while conducting studies of my own. You know, doing my part to make the dating world a little less scary.
I get asked by my clients on a daily basis about the importance of social photos, so here’s what I know about the topic — all packed up and ready to go, just for you.
The Ten Commandments of Social Photos
Social photos are fantastic. A flattering photo with your friends will provide your prospective matches a glimpse into your life in a way that other photos just can’t do. Your smile is more likely to be genuine, your body more relaxed, and there’ll be some confirmation that people are willing to tolerate you for extended periods of time.
What’s not to love? Well, a lot of things actually. In short: a social photo is only worth it if it’s a damn good picture of you… and by good, I mean physically attractive.
Do you know what will happen if this photo is a lovely testament to your undying friendship, but you have sweaty armpit stains and marinara sauce on your shirt? The person looking at your profile will smile sweetly at the beauty of friendship and then casually swipe left on you without a second thought.
As cold as it sounds, most people will not give a flying flip about your lifestyle until they find you attractive. Even someone looking for their soulmate wants to feel attracted to them. Focus on attraction first, and then if we can get a social photo of you looking fly as hell, go for it.
So here are the ten commandments of social photos. I chipped them out of a mountain and everything. I’m exhausted.
1. Thou Shalt Be The Hottest Beast At This Party
If you are not objectively the most attractive human being in this photo, it does not belong on your dating profile. Look, I’m adorable. Some might even say classically cute… but if you put me next to Constance Wu I’m gonna look like chopped liver, and not the fancy French kind either. The gross kind that your grandma tries to convince you is good for you but it tastes kinda like eating textured nickels. You’re so much more than textured nickels, so show off just how foxy you are by kicking Channing Tatum out of the group photo.
2. Thou Shalt Look Single AF
Do not take a group photo next to someone who looks like they could potentially be your ex. You should not be looking into the eyes of, standing next to, touching, leaning into, or licking anyone who could be confused as a previous or current lover.
People who swipe right on you will do it in less than 6 seconds. They’re making decisions based on their gut instincts and they’re gonna be picky as hell. If they have any question as to whether or not you’re posting photos of your ex, they will not ask for clarity. They will swipe left and move on.
Note for open and ENM relationships: If you are using dating apps to look for partners in an open relationship, this rule does not apply. A few photos with your current partner will actually increase your match rate by showing genuine affection and an overall healthy dynamic.
Do not take sexual or flirty photos with your partner, but be aware that people looking to engage with someone who is ENM will be on the lookout for red flags and unnecessary drama. Show them that your relationship is healthy and your partner is happy with the arrangement.
3. Thall Shalt Look Thousts Size
If you stand next to someone who is 6’3, you will look short. If you stand next to someone who is 90lbs, you will look big. According to my optometrist, human eyes aren’t super great. As far as mammals go, ours are downright shitty.
We determine the size of things almost exclusively by frame of reference. Any references in your photos, including the people you’re taking them with, should help to correctly identify your size — not cause confusion.
4. Thou Shalt Not Get Overlooked
If you post a photo with like 10 of your friends, no one is going to stare long enough to try to figure out which person you are. It’s just a wasted opportunity.
Small groups are best, and remember that the primary purpose of this photo is for you to look bangin’. The social aspect is secondary. If I can only see 35% of your face and your left elbow, it is not a good photo.
5. Thou Shalt Look Consistent
A lot of the social photos I see are a few years older than the rest of the photos on the profile. You know, because of the whole world pandemic thing. The number one reason that people swipe left is uncertainty.
This photo should help to affirm the image that your other photos have curated. If your photos look like they span across years, it creates enough doubt in their mind that you’re officially no longer worth the risk.
6. Thou Shalt Not Get Turnt
Most of the social photos I see are at bars, clubs, parties, vacations, or in dimly lit rooms. If you look like you’ve been partaking of substances, it’s not a good photo. It’s ok if you’re holding a drink, but if you look like you’re 30 seconds from barfing in the nearest shrubbery, please don’t put it on your profile.
Most people go out with friends on the weekend, and sometimes we get a little too tipsy, but these photos are a very small glimpse into your life and if you look blitzed it might lead to an overrepresentation of how you usually spend your time.
Where Did The Other 4 Commandments Go?
Well, as it turns out, it only takes 6 subheadings to talk about social photos. It makes sense, we got to skip over all the infidelity and murder and whatnot. Ultimately, social photos are great, as long as their objective is to provide an accurate, flattering, and CONSISTENT look at who you are.
If that feels like entirely more work than you’re willing to put in, then take a solo photo in a social environment. Most people are not going to assume that you went to a music festival or lakeside cookout alone.
Avoid taking all of your photos in your apartment; try to find a social environment if you can, and post a photo with friends if it turns out to be a damn good picture of you.
Take a deep breath. You’ve got this. And if you need a lil help, you’ve got me ;)