A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words
A picture is worth a thousand words. Right? Most online dating services provide photo dating opportunities - normally a free service that allows you to attach a photo to your personal profile and view images of potential matches and profiles. If you are serious about online dating, you should attach a flattering photograph of yourself to your personal profile. Alternatively, you can focus on profile matching and only exchange your image after email contact has been made. The problem is you may find that profiles without pictures tend to be ignored.
Either way, be sure to choose a photograph of yourself that is flattering and shows you smiling. Select a recent photo taken within the past year. While it is understandable to want to put your best foot forward, do not submit a dated photo of yourself. Especially avoid this temptation if the photo was taken when you still had a hair line and / or three dress sizes ago. Maybe you did look better then but ultimately it is less flattering to misrepresent yourself. You could bend over backwards to impress but what is the point? If they don't like you the way you are, then they don't like you. No doubt there is someone else who will like you exactly as you are so don't be afraid to just be yourself.
Perhaps you are thinking that photo dating sounds, well, superficial. After all, your first impressions are based almost exclusively on looks. There are many attractive people who simply are not photogenic and may therefore appear awkward. It is hard to identify a charming and attractive personality shining through in a photograph.
Hopefully, you are also leery of placing your own image on the internet. This is understandable. Once it is posted, realistically, it can be copied and therefore you have no control over where it ends up. That is why, before you advance to photo dating, it is essential to take the appropriate safety precautions to protect your identity.
The flip side of this coin is you may want to avoid profiles without pictures yourself. What is the person hiding? But even if you are comfortable with pure profile matching, you will want to request an image once email contact is established. The point is that a photograph provides you with a means of identification and this may be relevant for safety reasons. More importantly, when requesting photos, be sure to request a recent photo. Okay, you don't need a photo of your potential date holding up today's newspaper but at least be sure to specifically ask when the photo was taken.
Be especially suspicious of the motivations of anyone who misrepresents their own likeness in any way. It is doubtful that the individual has any serious intentions with respect to relationship. At a minimum, it's safe to assume they have poor decision making abilities and exceptionally bad planning skills. It is hard to imagine exactly what they thought would happen at the first meeting. (Hello?) If it didn't even occur to them to avoid an untenable situation, I think it is safe to guess there is a problem of some sort. It would be wise to forego any further contact.
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