What you see (should be) what you get


By Rory Gibson

I’ve got a new theory about dating strategies.

It springs from two recent events involving women I know being asked out by men in very public places while engaged in prosaic activities.

The first involved a mum doing the family shopping being pursued up and down the supermarket aisles by a much younger man who eventually cornered her near the tinned fish section and asked her out.

The fellow gave her a piece of paper with his phone number written on it, told her in a sincere and respectful manner that he thought she was beautiful, and asked her to call him if she felt like going for a coffee sometime.

She was so taken aback and a little flattered by this man’s directness that she thanked him profusely and pocketed the scrap of paper – and forgot to mention she was a married mother of two.

When Antonella went home she threw the note with the man’s number on the kitchen bench, where her daughter found it and asked what it was. Antonella told her the story, and her daughter immediately rang her Dad at work and told him gleefully that Mum had been “hit on” at the supermarket.

His reaction was classic: “The car isn’t badly damaged is it?” he asked. I’m not sure Antonella is talking to him yet.

Then there is Annie, who was propositioned in an equally unromantic situation by a bloke risking public humiliation but going for it anyway.

She was at an open house inspection, kicking the tyres of the property market because, post divorce, she needs to find a new home after the marital abode is dispensed within the next few months.

There were quite a few people there but she noticed that one in particular, a man wearing soggy board shorts (let’s assume he had just been for a swim) seemed to be shadowing her. He started chatting her up when they were in the master bedroom. That was a bit weird.

In the space of a couple of minutes, between the bedroom and the bathroom, he revealed, among other things, the fact he was divorced and his kids had left home.

Recognising the talkative fellow was now more interested in inspecting her than the house, my friend started walking back down the stairs, which is when he asked her out. Caught off guard, all she could think of in reply was, “Oh there’s no handrail. That wouldn’t comply with council regulations.”

Maybe it’s always been thus, that attractive women get asked out in all sorts of odd situations outside the usual workplace/pub/party/online dating site hunting grounds.

But my theory is that so many people post misleading photos of themselves on dating websites that no one trusts those pictures anymore, so when someone looking for romance sees a person they like the look of they seize the chance to act, regardless of the awkwardness of the situation.

Selecting photos for your online profile is tricky science indeed, and there are plenty of theories about how you should be portraying yourself.

As a man, I can tell you I don’t want to see photos of a potential date that are obviously old or blurry, feature other men in them or have you pictured too far away so that the landscape becomes the dominant feature. Same for close-ups that are too close.

Men should refrain from putting up their hunting photos, keep their shirts on, not be seen with their arms around strippers in Las Vegas and keep their motorbikes in the garage.

The smart thing to do is to post photos of what you actually look like now, with the only prop being a big friendly smile. And make sure there’s a few full-body shots.

If you’re not happy about what you look like enough to show yourself in an authentic light, why should anyone else be pleased to see you?

Don’t run the risk of an awkward encounter with someone who you may have misled through your photo choice.

Cece Olisa writes a blog called Plus Size Princess, and she recorded the change in attitude towards her when she decided to add full-body photos of herself to her dating profile.

“Because I’m plus-sized, I figured that a head-to-toe picture would prevent men from messaging me; I assumed cute, up-close selfies would work in my favour — but, boy, did I misjudge that one,” she wrote.

“I had heard people say I have a pretty face (the classic “big girl” compliment), so in the beginning, my dating profile pictures highlighted my face — and cut off my body.

“Many guys messaged me, and while we were flirting I’d always send over a head-to-toe photo of me in a cute outfit — so I wouldn’t shock them when we met in person. That’s when things would get awkward.

“Some guys would stop texting me; the others made it obvious that they only wanted to hook up.”

Cece then changed her approach, putting several full-body photos on her profile. The results were telling.

“They knew what I looked like from the get-go, which made me feel at ease. I was able to avoid those awkward moments (guys going MIA after I sent a full-body photo).

“Now, the messages I got seemed to be coming from sincere dudes who wanted to go out on actual dates.”

Cece says she can’t believe she waited so long to make what she called the “liberating move” to present herself in an accurate way from the outset.

“I’m comfortable with my figure, and any man I date must be comfortable with it, too,” she says.

“Putting up photos that represented all of me led to lots of in-person dates. Many of the guys I went out with paid me the ultimate compliment: “You look even prettier in person!”

I did the same thing, putting up photos that left potential dates in no doubt that what they were seeing would be what they were getting. I knew that anyone who went on a date with me was doing so willingly despite my looks, and that always gets the encounter off to a good start.

The fact is, doing anything else is a waste of time.

Ever met someone who looks nothing like their profile photo? Got any other profile photo tips? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation @eHarmony_AU or on Facebook.com/eHarmonyaustralia.

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