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Sex & Relationships

Should Men Avoid Posting Naked Selfies If They Want to Score Online Dates?

What your profile picture is telling women about you.

In a technological era, the Dos and Don'ts of online dating are not always clear-cut. With a vast array of online dating options to choose from, it is easy to overstep courtship boundaries when interacting with the opposite sex as we try to determine what exactly constitutes “acceptable” conduct on our quest to find a potential match.

While most dating sites do not condone the circulation of explicit content or naked photography, in reality the online dating world is jam-packed with thousands of profile pictures comprising of half-naked male "selfies"—self-portraits—as well as men who are eager to send women lewd graphic material.

As an online dater in New York, the singles capital of the world, I have received my fair share of uninvited male genitalia pictures and dating requests from men with half-naked selfies. Whenever I am confronted with such images, I am always left feeling bemused as I ponder what drives a man to publicly post a nude picture of himself online. Does it make me a prude because I find such images distasteful?

Irrespective of my own personal judgments, what seems apparent is that many men do not understand that certain types of selfies drastically affect their chances of meeting their match. There is a huge difference between a man posting a tasteful body shot of himself surfing at the beach compared with a semi-nude picture snapped in front of the mirror at his home—the former option appealing much more to a woman’s psyche.

Likewise, while it is acknowledged that not all women are necessarily opposed to the idea of dating a man with a provocative self-image, according to serial online dater, Alessandra Doria, 26, most women would probably not view these men seriously as a potential life partner.

“If they have a good body and showed some intellectual interest on their profile, perhaps I would date them. I have my own version of a selfie and I’m pretty well educated. Over the years I have encountered some guys who have had the intellectual standing to back up their pictures, while others just have no brains. Men put these photographs up for different reasons; some put it up because that is all they have to offer, others because that is all they are interested in offering,” she told AlterNet.

So how does a woman who is seeking a meaningful lasting relationship online get the message across to a man that his naked selfie is not the way to her heart? One disgruntled New York woman took extreme measures in the most public way possible on such a quest. A guy named Trevor got more than he bargained for when the woman responded to his unsolicited naked online selfie by reposting the image on her blog and emailing the picture to his mother, for all the world to see.  

The incident generated mass discussion, particularly from online female daters who shared similar experiences about men trying to win them over with shots of their private parts. One woman exclaimed, “To the men of the world, from a woman…it is not romantic to send us pictures of your penis."

Whether you agree with the woman's actions or not, perhaps the bigger issue this spectacle raised is whether men in this digital-dating era are actually cognitively aware of the message that their half-naked selfie is projecting to the opposite sex.

According to Jeannie Assimos, director of advice and content for eHarmony, if a man posts inappropriate self-shots of himself online, he is sending a message that he doesn’t have healthy boundaries and is in this for sex or attention. Moreover, any women seeking a relationship partner will absolutely run the other way if they see these types of images.

“As far as selfies go, the message this conveys is that you don’t have many friends, so have to resort to taking your own photo which can be a little worrisome. Many women who see this are going to think, does this guy not know anyone who can take a nice photo of him? It’s one thing to post this on Facebook, but if you are on a site like eHarmony and are looking for a partner for life, people are going to take you less seriously,” Assimos told AlterNet.

Referring to eHarmony’s blog, “Posting your Best Cover Photo,” Assimos explained that shirtless photos send the following negative messages to women:

  • You are superficial and spend more time focusing on your abs than developing other parts of your personality.
  • You are obsessed with physical appearances, and she won’t measure up.
  • You aren’t serious about online dating or at least looking for anything serious.

Yet, despite what the relationship experts say, there is still a proliferation of men opting for the "half-nude, muscle-flexing, pouting-lip snapshot in the mirror" over a good old-fashioned killer smile…so why?

Could it be that women have played a contributory role in fueling the male selfie-trend through our own online dating antics and profile images? To answer this question, I turned to the male users of the dating site okcupid, where dozens of men with half-naked pictures were more than eager to shed light on the male selfie phenomenon.

According to user Eugene, upon changing his profile picture to a half-naked selfie, his page received 10 times the attention it normally had from women—roughly 40 visits and 10 messages in 10 minutes.

“Mainly I put it up just to shake things up a bit to see what happens. If anyone judged me negatively for it with everything else I have in my profile and the 300 questions I've taken the time to fill out...it's their loss,” he said.

While this muscle-bound man was quick to shatter my pre-conceived notions about men who take half-naked selfies by providing me with stimulating conversation and surprising me with his knowledge of classical music, he did concede that such imagery can be misleading to women.

“I guess taken out of context from the rest of my profile, which is brimming with clever and intelligent anecdotes, cultural references and jokes, it could be taken as just another meathead body shot. Half of me understands that—I make fun of it sometimes as much as anyone else—while the other half thinks it's actually sexist and promoting a double standard to think that way. Girls are expected to show their body on their profile; women can be [half-naked] and smart at the same time. Similarly, guys can be intelligent and sensitive while showing off a little skin,” he said.

Another user, S3PB, whose profile comprises of nothing more than body shots agreed. “I think it’s irrelevant what profile pic I have. There are just too many guys on these sites and all we’re trying to do is get noticed,” he said.

Similarly, Navybluecrew with his rippling abdominal shots said that he receives many messages from women who want to meet him, despite the fact that he has chosen not to reveal his face.

“It astonishes me how many women have approached me based on my profile pic alone. I’m not concerned about my image, as I do not take this outlet seriously. However, even if I were looking for a serious relationship online, I would still choose pictures which do not show my face,” he said.

Of course, there are those users like Bigsauge76, who with such a name makes no secret of his dating intentions.

“In three years I've probably had 20 dates from this profile, and I have slept with five. I couldn't count how many women sent me at least shots of their breasts. I am presenting the image of a guy who wants to use okcupid to get laid. I do, in fact, have a separate conventional profile here with regular pictures,” he said.

It seems a large proportion of men with their half-naked selfies appear well aware of the consequences of their images and relish their high success in securing dates and attracting women.  

Regardless of whether we like it or not, people are always going to draw inferences about who we are based on the image that pops up on their screen. This picture is our first and sometimes only chance to make an impression, so it pays to be mindful about what image we are presenting. When in doubt, fellas, perhaps Assismos is on to something when she says: “if you are really and truly looking for a serious relationship, my advice would be to put a shirt on!”

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.

 

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