Modern dating is like the animal kingdom. There’s the peacocks flashing their brilliant feathers. The gorillas beating their chests. The lions having a roar. It’s a jungle out there. First impressions count BIG.TIME.
And if that first impression happens to involve a pair of petrol station sunnies, a tiger in Vegas or a “let my abs do the talking” shot*, it can be a “hell no” from the get-go. *Chris Hemsworth is an exception to the rule*
That’s the overwhelming feedback I’ve got from speaking to 10 incredibly smart, funny and confident women I know who are separating the dudes from the men, and the “come-on-over” Casanovas from the genuine catches. And it all starts with the profile picture.
There’s an art to choosing the right one. Sure, one woman’s “hipster Santa Claus” could very well be another’s Thor. But I found a general set of rules that are consistent: shirtless selfies are out, puppy and cat selfies are in.
In fact, dating and friend-finding app Bumble has even banned the shirtless bathroom mirror selfie. It’s one of the reasons why many of the women I spoke to use it. Bumble is taking off because of a novel concept: Women make the first move. Once you make a match, you’ve got 24 hours to message them (for both heterosexual and same-sex dating) – and they have 24 hours to respond. That concept has attracted a higher calibre of users who want something more than a casual hook-up.
So what are the deal breakers and the deal makers? The ladies have spoken and here’s what they told Mamamia. *Note: Some names have been changed for anonymity, but their answers are 100 percent authentic.
Rebecca, 30 (dating men)
"I like a guy who looks happy, is smiling and enjoying life – bonus points if he's doing an actual activity. I don't mean like mountain biking, something more along the lines of beer pong. I don't like guys that try to look intimidating or are overly serious. Also as pretty as they may be, I also can't take a guy seriously if he takes shirtless selfies at the gym – I may perve, admire and daydream for a minute, but he's not my future hubby."
Sarah*, 24 (dating men)
"If they have a dog, their chances are increased by 80%. I don't like vain mirror selfies, overly posed photos, shirtless photos, if they are doing 'shakkas' in every photo, if they are highly intoxicated in EVERY photo, or if their profile picture is of them with a tiger/riding an elephant/donkey/with an entertainment monkey/any other accidental animal cruelty. Incorrect grammar or spelling in their bio is an automatic no. No matter how attractive they are. To sum it up... genuine, fun, down-to-earth photos with puppies accompanied by a humorous bio with no spelling errors."
Jen*, 27 (dating women)
"I look for natural photos that don’t feel too contrived because, to me, this reflects a person who is comfortable with themselves and who is on the app to genuinely meet someone as opposed to attention-seeking. Keep the duck-faced selfies away! I also look for photos that show a little something about the person’s interests beyond those obvious pre-blackout drunk, glammed-up-with-drink-in-hand photos. We all like getting glammed up for a night out but there’s so much more to you than that and I want to see what fuels your fire!"
Rachel, 33 (dating men)
"I immediately move on if the first photo is a group photo. I don't want to go through all of your photos and try to figure out who you are because chances are the rest of your photos are going to be with one of you and your best guy friend (who also happens to be the hot one!) Also, if he wears sunglasses in all of his photos. What's the matter? Do you have crossed eyes? I'm OK with seeing a guy with a kid or another girl as long as there is an explanation in his profile like 'Girl in the pic is my sister and that's my sweet nephew in the other'. I was a dental assistant for a bit so a nice smile is important, but it needs to look genuine! And lastly, this beard trend. I'M SO OVER IT! You're getting extra points from me if you don't look like a hipster Santa Claus."
Amanda*, 32 (dating men)
"When I am approving potential Bumble matches, it's something in their eyes that seal the deal. I am looking for kindness as well as a sense of humour. Eyes give away a lot, even if it's just in a photo. My list is longer when it comes to deal breakers. It's a definite 'no deal' if the person has their shirt off, is taking a selfie in a lift or is lying on their bed with 'bedroom eyes'. I appreciate at least a few photos of them doing different things – maybe one at a wedding and another playing sport – so I can get a small sense of what they're like. It's also not a 'Where's Wally' test… I lose patience if I am trying to guess who they are in a crowd every photo."
Emma*, 32 (dating men and women)
"I'm a bit over shirtless pics. I like it when they show a bit of humour. Animals definitely help! I don't like seeing pics of them with kids though. Even when they have 'that's my nephew' in the info. It's creepy AF."
Stacey, 31 (dating men)
"Display pics that will definitely grab my attention include pics with pets, food – cooking or eating! Travel photos and family pics. I am a fan of tattoos so some ink is a win. Ideally I look for photos that promote someone's personality and interests – things that are unique about them. If these align with my interests, even better! I generally am not keen on topless gym pics. I also avoid profile photos posing next to fancy cars. Any pictures with even a hint of arrogance are a big fat no for me. I can't be bothered dealing with the ego. If a profile has no photos, it's an automatic no. I find that a little creepy – what are they hiding?"
Louise*, 32 (dating men)
"[I don't like] bathroom pics, faceless shots, elevator selfies, shirtless unless you have an amazing six-pack and it's contextual (not gratuitous nudity), most exotic animals, too many people in every shot (who are you?), pics where you look short against your friends (but if you're short better for me to find out that way than on the date!), non-smiling shots, pics in bed, drunken party shots, no friends or fam in any pic, pics with an animal where the animal looks coerced, pics with kids (unless it's clearly not yours).
"The ones I do like? Basically everything in the reverse! Smiling shots, one or two friends or fam members in some shots. Tux shots are pretty good, puppy pics, any hobby shots where you look like you're having a good time! Shots that give me some idea about your height. Basically shots where I can see who you are so I can work out if I'm attracted to you and if we have similar values.
"I look at it positively - my default is to say yes to you. In theory, give everyone a shot. I also may excuse one breach of my rules depending on the other shots!"
Casey*, 28 (dating men)
"Guys wearing petrol station sunnies, with mullets, bad shoes, or any shirtless pics are definite red flags (and quick nos). On the other hand, guys who only wear suits seem boring. But if you can poke fun at yourself in your photos and make me laugh, if you can grow some decent facial hair and love animals (and not that tiger in Bali), it's a yes from me! Like if a guy only has photos of him at the races...SNOOZE. Cats show a softer side."
Priya*, 31 (dating men)
"You know you've found you're 'humble Bumble' match when he's wearing a nice shirt, with a great smile, some pictures with the fam bam (bonus points for the uncles out there with the cute picture of their niece/nephew) or friends and looks like an all-round legend who loves adventures (bonus points for exotic travel destinations).
"[I don't like the] gym selfie, the man pout selfie, the oiled up shirtless selfie that highlights the fact that yes 98% of your body is covered in tattoos or the before and after selfie - OK we get it, you love chicken, brown rice and broccoli and lifting is life!"
So... in conclusion.
We learned a few things. Shirtless selfies are out. Cat selfies are in. Elevator selfies are a downer. Smiling's a big upper.
Tattoos are great for some. Suits are great for others. One woman's deal breaker is another's deal maker. So why not get in the game?
What are your dating profile deal makers or breakers? Share with us below.
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This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Bumble.
Bumble started as an app to connect people with future significant others, but Bumble is no longer only a dating app. We firmly believe that life is about relationships, and our mission is to provide people with a better way to meet. We have partnered with Mamamia to bring you the ultimate guide on how to Bumble. Whether you are connecting with potential partners, friends through Bumble BFF or soon Business connections through Bumble Biz we will be the place you are no longer afraid to meet the people you don’t know.