Gennelmen, Don’t Anyhowly Romance Online


For weeks, I have harboured a growing suspicion that Tinder and OkCupid are trolling me. However, it wasn’t due to OkCupid’s unannounced experiment with their matching algorithms. I grew suspicious after coming across a baffling array of profile pictures seemingly designed to drive potential matches away, if not running to the nearest police station.

Why? Why would you shoot yourself in the foot like this? Surely the aim of online dating is to improve your love life, and not to terrify potential dates, thus dramatically reducing the quality of your love life? After some thought, I came to this conclusion: the laws of probability dictate that it is impossible that there are this many sociopaths in Singapore. I then formed another hypothesis that seemed much more likely: these men are genuinely clueless about how to put their best face forward in a profile picture. (No, I will not apologize for that pun.)

After further thought, I figured I should highlight some of the most common profile picture gaffes that I’ve encountered. If not for altruistic reasons, at least to reduce the number of times people go “Har? Liddat also can ah?” when browsing online dating site profiles.

Before you get indignant and start on a spiel about women are shallow for expecting men to look like Greek gods in their profile pictures, let me assure you that they don’t expect this. They would just really like you to refrain from being creepy. As for the women whose only criteria is physical attractiveness, all I have to say is good riddance to shallow rubbish.


1) The mug shot/ IC photo


This style of profile picture is also popular in police stations the world over. It makes people wonder if you are so used to posing for police mug shots that this is your default pose for all other photos that don’t involve getting arrested. Not faring much better is the IC photo profile picture, which is slightly less terrifying version of a mug shot. (Sometimes, the IC photo is a lot scarier.) Just because this guy got tons of female attention from his police mug shot, it doesn’t mean that mug shot photos are a good idea. Ever.

Solution: For a less severe look, angle your face to the left or right and use natural light. And please, for the sake of your love life, don’t use your IC photo.


2) The cat/ dog/ hamster picture


These profile pictures feature only an animal. No humans, no you, just an animal. I’m sorry, were you looking for instead? You do realize that this is a dating site for humans, right?

A picture of yourself with your dog/ cat/ feral parrot is perfectly fine. Depending on who’s browsing your profile, the inclusion of an animal buddy can improve your chances. It doesn’t even have to be your pet! However, a picture of some random animal without you in the picture (or any other picture on your profile) is not cool. Like other profile pictures devoid of your likeness, it signals that you are either 1) unwilling to play by the basic, tacit rules of online dating, 2) superbly insecure about your appearance, or 3) paranoid about people you know finding out that you’re using an online dating site.

Solution: If you want your furkid in your profile picture, make sure you’re in it too.


3) Stallion/ lightning bolt/ other vaguely creepy symbols of male virility



Whoa, cowboy. Back away from that profile picture, right now. If I wanted to date a horse, I would have run away with the circus in 1999. (Insert awkward silence.) Apart from the general turn-off factor created by a refusal to include a photo of yourself, this virility symbol profile picture thing has to stop. It’s creepy, and the subtext you’re sending out is “I’m not showing you what I look like, but I want you to think I’m a force of nature in bed, like this mighty lightning bolt/ stallion/ stallion on a lightning bolt.”

Solution: Refrain from using symbols of male virility in your profile pictures. All of them. Instead, get a friend to take a non-threatening picture of you enjoying a teh or something non-phallic.
4) The ultra close up


This is the sort of profile picture that makes people lean away from the screen. It’s an extreme close up so extreme that people can play connect the dots with your pores and count your nostril hairs. While your self-consciousness is laudable, there’s no need to get quite so up close and personal before you’ve even met your potential match in person.

Solution: Gostan five steps before you take a picture of yourself. Even better: ask a friend who takes decent photos and/or doesn’t hate you to take your photo.


5) Three (or ten) is a crowd


How is anyone supposed to know which of the ten people in the photograph is you? This is your only profile picture, and it’s got tons of other people in it. There’s no way of knowing if you’re that guy passed out in the couch, the one rummaging through the fridge, or the one chatting up that girl in the corner. Do you have multiple personality disorder? Is this is a creative rendering of your various personas?

Solution: Just take a photo of yourself. Just yourself, not ten other people and yourself.


6) Mr Disembodied Abs


Slow your roll, loverboy. That bathroom selfie of your disembodied torso isn’t the babe magnet that you think it is.

No matter how ripped your abs are, please refrain from using pictures of your disembodied torso or other body parts, especially if that’s your only profile picture. You might think that your picture is saying this: “Hey sexy ladies, I’m a total studmuffin.” Unfortunately, in reality, disembodied torso profile pictures signal that you are either 1) excessively focused on physical appearance, in yourself and others, 2) suffering from some major body image issues, 3) a narcissistic jackass who thinks that their abs are a gift to the world, or 4) someone who totally stole a picture of some random guy’s abs. Whatever the cause might be, these profile pictures are not in the least bit charming.

Solution: Just take a photo of your face and resist the urge to show your disembodied torso to complete strangers.
At this point, you might be wondering how on earth to take a profile picture that won’t result in tears and police reports, as there seem to be so many potential pitfalls. I’m happy to tell you that it’s actually pretty straightforward.

1) Make sure you, and only you, are included in the picture. (Pet exception below.)

2) Include your pets if you want to, but ensure that you are in the picture. No one wants to date your terrapin, okay? I’m sure he’s a nice reptile, but no one wants to date him.

3) Take your picture in natural light.

4) Ask someone who knows what they’re doing to take a photo of you.

5) Smile! (Do not attempt this while holding a butcher knife, for reasons that I hope are obvious.)


And with those pointers, I bid you farewell and good luck, gennelmen!








  1. Feral parrot?! I take offence for all parrot lovers and owners. And what about the bunnies? ;-) Having never been on a dating site, the profile-picture options were bemusing and amusing.

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