Using online dating sites is a relatively new and effective way to find a partner that you can be compatible with. With all the algorithms and marketing ploys that exist, who wouldn’t use it? Online dating gives you more options. It widens your range of exposure. It gives you the chance to engage people whom you would never expect to meet in real life.
Those are the things that make online dating so exciting and positive, but there are still some kinks that need to be ironed out. When I tried one site that used questionnaires and profile keywords, I was very surprised with the selection. I would say that I was not attracted to a lot of the men on it because of my standards, but I was more surprised by the fact that I did find men who I ended up liking.
I’m not new to online dating. The problem was that after years of using it with more negative results than positives, I was pretty much desensitized to the idea of finding Mr. Right. But of course, I got back on the horse and decided to give it another try.
But there was a catch. I was aware that most of my friends and colleagues used these dating sites. I wasn’t ashamed of going on a dating site per se, but I was a little reluctant, because of the reactions I was expecting to get in case they found me. That’s how I decided not to use a photo just yet. [Read: 9 sites you can use to get yourself a date]
Why I didn’t use a photo
No matter which way you look at it, there is still a stigma on using dating apps and sites to find a relationship. I knew that I would find people I knew and would encounter through my line of work. I didn’t want them to see me and assume that I was out of options in terms of organic dating. I also didn’t want them to think that I was scouring the Interwebs for an easy lay – which is not something to be ashamed about… It’s just something that no one talks about.
I am one of the few people in my social circle that really believes in the power of online dating, but hearing other people disregard it and put it down as something desperate, pathetic spinsters do really puts a downer on my online quest for love.
I don’t believe that for a second, but of course I am only human. The pressures of society got to me and I decided to forgo anything that would reveal my identity, such as pictures, locations and workplaces.
How it all started
I wasn’t seriously looking to date at the time I opened a new account on the site. I wanted to test the waters before I decided to reveal my identity. That meant finding everyone I knew and dated and blocking them for fear of getting a text message saying, “So, I saw you on [insert name of app or site]. How you doin’?”
Apart from that, I couldn’t divulge any information about myself, unless it was within the confines of a personal message. I was Googlable, so I didn’t want to give my last name out as well. That was a problem for me, seeing as I had no idea what to put on my profile.
Instead of writing something fake that I would later regret, lest I decided to actually date someone, I put a simple tag line in the bio section. “I am pretty and smart. Now, imagine what that profile picture looks like.”
I also wrote under the prompt to message me, “I want a riveting conversation about politics and the global economy.” Rest assured, I truly believed those words. After I wrote that and started browsing matches, the fun started.
The love letters
Trolling without a picture is always fun. Aside from the fact that you can look at profiles over and over again without having your face branded as a stalker, you also have an inordinate amount of confidence in messaging random people with random quips.
It was easier to give compliments to guys without feeling bad when they didn’t reply. It was also fun to develop strange personas and use weird pick-up lines on people you would never see in real life. I was having a blast. But I grew tired of making people uncomfortable, so I decided to dial down the crazy and left my profile alone.
When I returned a few weeks later, I was surprised to find dozens of messages from the guys I looked at, and some who I never even clicked on. All of them were a variety of bland greetings and creative quips about my tag line. I was very intrigued. Some of the messages went like this:
Note: The usernames of the people involved have been redacted to prevent any lawsuits and physical altercations in broad daylight.
# You’re playing with our imagination!
# You’ve piqued my curiosity.
# Probably a beautiful, foxy lady.
# Fascinating and intriguing at the same time.
# I can imagine the kind of profile that will easily intimidate most guys. Haha.
# Smart alecky statement there on your profile. (smiley emoji)(smiley emoji)
# Hi, pretty and smart individual! Let’s be friends.
# Wow. Pretty with brains? What more can a man ask for?
And some of my personal favorites:
# A woman with confidence and obvious intellect despite having less than a hundred words on her profile. I have to say, I’m quite intrigued. The mystery adds to the sexiness as well. I’d like to get to know you better. (smiley emoji)
# Hey you.
My take on the matter
Those are just a few of the messages I received. The rest were a variety of the same phrases, while some were pretty much dead starters. Now, bear in mind that I had no photo when I received all these messages. It was very surprising how things ended up the way they did. I had no idea if these men were serious or just plain adventurous… or crazy.
I decided to humor said greetings and ended up having a lot of intelligent conversations with guys ranging from moderately handsome to downright gorgeous. I even went out with some of them, but those stories can wait until the next article.
All throughout these exchanges, I kept wondering why they insisted on messaging a profile without a face and a sketchy tag line. What if I was lying? What if I was a man? They had no idea, yet they kept on flirting without even prompting for a photo. It was a refreshing experience, but I still wanted to know why these things happened. So what did I do? I asked them.
Why did these men want to date my faceless profile?
Without knowing anything about me, these men were very determined to flirt their way into my personal life. When I was sure that I had no connection to them in real life whatsoever, I started telling them about myself.
When I felt comfortable enough with the conversation, I asked them point blank why they decided to message me. Most of them gave the same answer: I was intrigued by your bio. They admitted that they wanted to find out if what I was saying was true.
Some of them tested my sincerity by opening up about the topics that I expressed interest in like the economy and politics. When they realized that I had something useful to say, they became that much more interested. Still no photo at this point. I was also seriously considering sending them a meme instead of my picture, just to satisfy their curiosity.
One of the answers that really interested me was from one guy who didn’t flirt with me. He just wanted to talk about politics, too. So, I asked him why this was happening. The answer was not surprising, but it was very concise: Men are attracted to the mystery. The more they uncover, the better it is for their egos.
My reaction: Damn it. He is absolutely right. So, I guess the answer was not anything that most people wouldn’t already know. It was right under my nose, but the hordes of love-struck men blinded me to the fact that the human psyche is predictable, at best, and annoyingly accurate, at its worst. [Read: 12 things men like in women other than her looks]
Should you stop posting photos on your online dating profile?
Absolutely not. If you’re serious about looking for a partner out there, you need to get with the program. What happened to me was a fluke and not all of the guys I dated were keepers anyway. If I had posted a picture with the same tagline, I bet I would have gotten more responses than I did without one.
Still, the accidental experiment was not a failure. It actually supports what researchers and relationship experts are saying nowadays. The confidence in my tag line overshadowed the insecurity that my lack of a picture presented. The strength of what I was saying made talking to me seem like a good bet.
Aside from putting an accurate, yet presentable representation of yourself on your profile, make sure that your bio and other aspects of your profile are on point. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Bask in your confidence, but try not to look condescending and arrogant. With a combination like that, you will definitely receive a ton of proposals and invites.
I had an awesome time connecting with people without using a photo, but I think it’s better for me to actually show that I’m confident enough to put a picture up on my profile – real-life friends be damned. I suggest you do the same and see how it goes.
[Read: 14 dos and don’ts of online dating]
You can try what I did just for the fun of it, but I think you’ll fare better and have more options if you do use your photo on your dating profile. Just don’t forget to be safe and conduct a social media background check before meeting people in person.
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