In the notoriously unreliable world of dating apps, everybody needs a bit of help. So here are the profile giveaways that say: run like hell
Proof that online dating is a tightrope walk over a fire swamp came this week when the website Somecards dared readers to send in photos of themselves in real life, lined up against their dating app pictures. The results were published under the headline “People shared how they look on Tinder vs when they’re scrolling through. It got ugly”.
Well no, it didn’t, but it did highlight the narrow parameters that dating online has thrown up. The approved photos depicted sexy, happy people drinking, dancing and pouting away. Women in tight dresses, and men wearing deep V-neck T-shirts, showing off their carefully honed muscles and their questionable fedoras. By contrast, the “natural” photos showed people in bed with their cats, make-up free, making stupid faces and generally looking like, well, you or I might on the average Tuesday.
In the past decade, dating avenues have become more and more reductive. Once you might have signed up with a site like the Guardian’s Soulmates, taken a decent amount of time to answer a set of questions about your likes and dislikes, and written a paragraph or two about yourself to boot.
But now you can download an app and be searching for love (or perhaps just a hookup) within seconds. The new dating apps are free, and often require absolutely no information about you at all. So of course the five photos you upload are crucial. That’s all the other person will see, all that they have to make a decision with: five photos that might just win you a date, so you better make them good.
Inevitably, this will lead to a huge number of disappointments. Everyone will have a friend who can regale a dinner party with a story about a guy who looked like an athlete on his profile, only to turn up at the date wearing a gobsmacking combination of jeans and sheux, and is five inches shorter than professed. Or the woman who did not think to mention her alarming neck tattoo.
Does this mean we’re all becoming increasingly shallow? Will we eventually demand that dating apps feature 360-degree videos of prospective dates, complete with common objects for scale? These apps are certainly growing in popularity (Tinder has an estimated 50 million users), so if we accept that people will misrepresent themselves online, then allow me to suggest some other ways to avoid further dating disappointment …
Don’t date the man hugging a tiger in his profile photo
It’s a surprisingly common theme and it’s always grim. Posing with a sedated and miserable wild animal is not a good sign if you’re looking for a caring and kind partner.
Don’t date a woman wearing anything that screams ‘cultural appropriation’
Call me a Guardian cliche, but I’d warrant a girl sporting a bindi or Native American headdress, with no idea of what they signify, might not be someone with a lust for knowledge.
How many selfies?
Two or three is fine. You know your best side better than your drunk mate in the pub at 3am. But all the photos? In your bathroom mirror? Patrick Bateman vibes.
Photos of an extremely attractive body, but you can’t see the face?
Yeah, they’re married. It’s a no from you.
The person who puts up baby photos. Of themselves.
Why? Why would a grownup want to see baby photos of you before they’ve even met you? See also: people who pose with babies and write “Don’t worry, it’s not my baby”.
Anyone who says something mean in their profile
They are negging you. It’s not confident banter, it’s a red flag the size of said chained-up tiger. Run.
Posing with dogs
I bet that’s not their dog. I bet it’s a dog they saw in a park. They don’t walk that dog at 1am in the rain. They don’t know that responsibility.
Journalists who write judgmental pieces telling you who to avoid
Avoid these people most of all.
This article was written by Bella Mackie, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 26th January 2016 14.56 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010