How important are looks in dating? I get this question a lot. Although I’ve written about it before, but recently I got an email from a guy who decided to do an interesting experiment and I thought it was worth sharing:
Partially out of frustration and partially out of curiosity I did an experiment. I gave online dating a shot, only to really not get any responses (or very few), so I stopped for a while and just recently reactivated my profile, only with a different picture (as in, not me). I only emailed girls that I emailed before. Now my theory was partially proved correct, I did get a few responses from women that previously didn’t contact me.
Anyway, this did happen a few times, and of course with the better looking pic I got more profile visits and initial emails (which I never got with my own pic). BUT, It didn’t happen as nearly as much as I thought it was going to happen (I expected women to just jump at me, to be honest), so perhaps looks aren’t as critical as I thought they were.
Ah, I love it! By which I mean, I love it as an experiment. Please don’t use the Cyrano technique (pretending to be someone else) to try and attract someone for real. This is called lying, and it’s important to remain authentic when attracting the right mate.
However, I’m still glad someone tried this and wrote to me about it, because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the role that looks play in dating and attraction–particularly online.
There are myths about how looks relate to attraction. They come from Hollywood, the media, and who knows where else. Let’s break down some of these myths and see what’s real and what’s silicone fake:
Myth #1: If you are good-looking, people will flock to you like moths to light
Good looks help. They open the door. They may inspire someone to approach you. But if you don’t know how to flirt or carry on a conversation or maintain an emotionally mature relationship, that door won’t stay open for long.
Notice how he said he thought women “would just jump at him” and that didn’t turn out to be true.
Where does this myth come from? I believe it’s something that we see in movies a lot, where someone who is good looking can often seduce and charm their way into always getting their way.
Actually, there have been several studies to show that many people trust beautiful people less when they asked for a favor, because they believe they are being charmed or conned into something. Again, that probably comes from watching too many sexy spy movies.
In real life, looks matter, but not nearly as much as flirting skills do!
Myth #2: It’s Natural Selection: I’m just not meant to pass on my genes
This one makes me want to do a face palm every time I hear about it. I’ve heard this before, mainly from recovering pick-up artists who have read one too many books on Darwin, Natural Selection, and the social pecking order.
Look, natural selection is the process by which things naturally evolve over time to fit their environment. For example, a moth evolving to have darker colored wings because that hides it better from prey. This has almost nothing to do with dudes trying to get laid in the club.
Do you know how I know that evolution is NOT trying to weed you out? Because you exist. Women aren’t “naturally selecting” guys who are taller to kick short guys out of the gene pool. Dating and attraction is much more complicated than that. And many a short dude gets some good action between the sheets too.
You are here. You have already been selected by nature, evolution, and the universe to be here.
Myth #3: Good looks are something you are born with; you either got it or you don’t
Looks do matter. We are biologically programmed to find certain features and body types more attractive than others because they indicate markers of good health.
Key words there: markers of good health. If you are healthy, you will be good looking. If you take good care of your body, you will be good looking. If you have scars on your face and are missing 3 fingers and both your legs and you take care of your body in the best way you can, you will be beautiful.
In particular, we look for…
- Fit, well-proportioned bodies
- Clear skin
- Shiny, thick hair
- Clear eyes
- Clean teeth
All of these are markers of good health, and a strong immune system. Some of these also relate to good hormonal balances.
Also, you can create all of these qualities in your life. Right now we live in an age where it’s possible to research, learn, and test what works for you. In fact, you can be on the path to obtaining these things right now!
So, now that you have an idea of what men and women are looking for, as a bonus we’re going to discuss how to show yourself off in the best light!
Here is how to pick a good online picture:
In online dating looks matter more than they do when you meet in person because that’s what you primarily have to go on. Potential partners don’t get to see how good you look in 3D. Ever notice that some people are ridiculously attractive, but can’t take a good photo? While others are more homely, but when the camera is on them they know how to work it?
Here’s a secret… when picking an online picture, post more than one!
Post pictures of you doing stuff you like to do, not just of headshots. Seeing how someone moves their body is a big part of physical attraction, so headshots of even good-looking people tend to feel pretty meh in comparison to seeing a body in natural motion.
Also, try not to do the reverse, unless you have a really good reason for it! For example, men, don’t pose in front of the mirror with your shirt off, flexing your biceps, where your iPhone is just at that perfect angle so the flash reflects off the mirror and we can’t see your face. Yes, show off your body, but be open about what your face looks like… and do something cool with all those muscles! Do a headstand, do a dance move, do something you’re talented at! And if you’re going to *only* show off your abs, then fine, but don’t let the flash block your face!
And for the women, for the love of God do not do the duckface! If you’re going to do the duckface then at least have some ducks in the background so it looks like you’re being ironic.
If you don’t have any major physical talents just yet (this applies for men and women), then that is absolutely fine. Get some photos of you doing things that would be fun to do on a date! In other words… look like you are conversation-worthy, and you will get messages! Go kayaking, go on a walk in nature, get a picture of yourself inside your favorite coffee shop, pose in front of an interesting looking building. If you want to show off your body then absolutely show it off… just do it in a creative way. Potential mates will see these pictures and imagine that’s what going on a date is like with you… while being reminded that you’re smoking hot.
Also smile, smile, smile! Imagine you’re flirting with the camera.
Remember, looks are important, but not as important as most people think. Take good care of your health, and be proud of who you are. The way you introduce and present yourself to the world is more important than whether or not you are “hot.” At the end of the experiment, he found that women were not jumping all over him like he thought they would. When you’re confident and you love yourself, others will do the same. Just remember to express yourself authentically, whether that be your body, your interests, your passion, and/or anything that makes you feel alive!