Just Say "Flirt"

Potential customers of eHarmony’s imminent gay/straight dating service might want to read this before selecting their profile picture. The dating site OkCupid analyzed more than 7,000 member profile pictures to identify the components of a “successful” (as measured by messages received from other users) profile picture. Women who “flirted” with the camera received more messages than those who smiled directly at the camera. And those infamous male “ab shots” also generate more messages than average, although the effect is short-lived. Of course, OkCupid only recommends the ab shot to certain men: “We would never suggest to a Fitzgerald or a Dave Eggers to limit his profile to 100 words, and so why should guys with great bodies keep their best asset under wraps?” (HT: Brock Harris) [%comments]

Jim Purdy

I know a few couples whose online ventures eventually led to very happy marriages.

Those success stories are encouraging, but I wonder how people react when their profiles and messages get very few responses.

An older widow recently told me that she gave up her attempts at online dating after getting very few responses. And of course we guys are notorious for our fragile male egos.

Rejection is still rejection, whether online or in person.

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Met my wife on eharmony. Don't remember if she flirted with the camera or not, but I don't care. She's gorgeous, and smart, and is an outstanding person, and I was very lucky to meet her.


I didn't get many responses either. It's probably because I am short and not very good looking.


This reinforces the concept of the double standard in our society:

1. women, try to look sexy
2. men, try to look powerful

I thought we were moving past this cliche in the 70's, but it's hanging on..... Depressing.


Online dating can be fun, if you're smart about it and actually treat it like you care. OKCupid did another study, this one on first contacts, and found that using texting language like "ur" and "r u" got your message thrown in the trash 95% of the time. I looked at the survey here:


Also, testing is as important in online dating as in any direct-sales proposition. If you're getting no responses, try something new. "Just be yourself" is dead wrong - you need to find, and then be, the best you.


Do we still have to see online and off a two separate critters? As more people get online and it loses it's elitism it reflects society at large.Yes looks do matter for men. Flirtiness and chutz[pah for women.


Has anyone done a study of ab shots versus bicep shots, since some men are excruciatingly fond of their upper arms?

Alexander Hasha

I met my wife on match.com, and its the best thing that ever happened to me. I didn't get tons of interest in my profile, and it took over 9 months to meet the one for me. People just need to remember that it only takes one success to make it all worth it, and patience will eventually be rewarded.


But look on the bright side, Kevin, at least you have positive self-esteem . . .


If you are a man shorter than 5' 9" then you are toast regardless of your appearance. The irony is that women who react negatively to judgment based on weight think nothing of judging based on height. Worse, weight is a measure that can be changed in many cases.The rack isn't appealing as a mechanism to add height. None of us should allow these factors to influence us yet they do. Maybe it's "chemistry."


I kept attracting married men who were looking for a fling or men who had issues with women in general.

Had eharmony cancel my account and have vowed never to do online dating again.


Some sites like eHarmony or Amicurious (for gay men) will only introduce you to your matches (based on a psychological formula). So with these sites, you still will be dealing with pictures, and making decision based on what you see, but knowing, that these people are your matches as far as your personality goes.
So there is much more to it, than just someone's looks.

Katherine J

I find the majority of people on dating sites are insincere and only seeking to validate themselves; it really has nothing to do with you. It's all about them. People just want to be flattered and to know they 'still got game'. When you meet, and fail to flatter them further, it'll be on to the next empty hot air balloon.

Thanks, but I'd prefer going to the bar, and meeting people the old fashioned way.


I met my husband of nearly 15 years through a personal ad that didn't generate a lot of response. For him, it was the only one he ever answered. Those ads didn't have pictures, but I'm sure someone could have produced a study showing what phrases prompted the most responses. But getting lots of responses is not the point. What matters is finding one good match. If your ad filters out men looking for someone who is not you, so much the better.


@Bonnie, before you despair, I'd encourage you to go to the OKtrends site and look at the full study - it's not just sexy women and powerful men.

For example, they show that some pics where people don't show their faces at all get a great response if that person is doing something interesting.

Nancy, similarly, they also analyse word use. Amusingly, starting a contact with 'yo' gets more responses than starting with 'hello'!


I met my husband through eHarmony. I have to say if you are honest and sincere the site will likely return decent matches. Now, of course there were matches that I wasn't physically attracted to and a few profiles that I didn't really care for. Overall, the people I continued communication with and ended up meeting in real life were nice and attractive and I could have had a relationship with a couple of them. But I met my husband after a few dates and bazinga I was totally in love. Our respective pictures weren't of abs or flirty because we weren't looking to maximize responses, merely find the "right responses". And who'da thunk it? It worked!

Dave S

I'm a forty-something single dad, not outstanding looking, but I have a good career and I can write so as to make you laugh. I have to say that between okcupid and match.com I have a better dating life than ever before.

I'm able to weed out the creeps quickly, after no more than coffee, and I've had a few very nice relationships, with good people, most of whom are still my friends.

I'm not looking to get married again, so I'm not looking for "the one", and I'm up front with that, so I don't get discouraged about not finding her. I just like women, and I like good people, so it works, and everyone is happy.

I also don't get discouraged by dry times, 'cause when it rains, it pours.


The few times that I've done online dating, I have purposely weeded out anyone that posts "ab shots" or any shirtless photos. Part of the fun of dating someone is the excitement of wondering and eventually finding out what they look like without clothes after you've known them for awhile. If a guy's abs are really the best thing he has to offer, it's a real clear indicator of what kind of potential the relationship actually holds (and what kind of woman he's looking for). That said, I usually look for someone who indicates that he plays a sport or works out, because that's an indicator of health rather than the need to have a body that looks good on dating sites.