The biggest dating profile turnoffs, according to data

From pics to in-app chats — dating app reps explain why you might not be getting a date.

From pics to in-app chats — dating app reps explain why you might not be getting a date

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

We've talked about why your significant other doesn't love you anymore; how you torture yourself about it; and what heartbreak does to your brain. But getting dumped is just the tip of the rejection iceberg. If you're dating online, you're constantly being rejected by people you'll never even meet in real life based on things like your photos, your profile and your initial chats.

As in real life, it can be hard to tell why people don't like you. Most people would rather spare your feelings than tell you the truth. But online data apps have been watching. They track who messages whom, likes and dislikes, and who eventually meets up. In other words, they have data. And from data, comes insight. So, we reached out to reps from Bumble, Happn and OkCupid and used recent research from Hinge to zero in on the most common turnoffs at every stage of the online dating game.


Dating profile photos are the first thing people see and are, therefore, the first reason they might reject you. But it's not necessarily your looks that are turning people off. Some types of photos just do worse than others, no matter who's in them. Here are the top photo turnoffs, according to our sources.

Anything covering your face

Anything that obscures your face hurts your chances. Meredith Gillies, Canadian marketing manager for Bumble, says, "One of the biggest mistakes we see is users who don't have a clear first photo. Avoid wearing sunglasses, hats or [using] filters, so potential matches can see who you are." Research from Hinge confirms this insight, showing that photos that use Snapchat filters are liked 90 per cent less than the average photo. Yes, you're cute as a puppy. But no, we won't meet you for drinks.

Group photos

Hiding in a crowd has the same effect as hiding behind sunglasses. People don't want to have to guess who you are. According to Hinge, women are an auspicious 69 per cent more likely to receive a like on a solo photo than a group pic. Jennifer Faur from Happn concurs, saying that the company discourages people from posting group photos.


Pose alone, but have someone else take the pic. The reps we interviewed were unanimous: selfies do worse than otheries. According to Hinge, selfies do 40 per cent worse than other pictures, but a whopping 90 per cent worse if taken in the bathroom.

Too few photos

Even if your photos provide a clear view of you, you may not have enough of them. According to Gillies, "Three photos or more in your Bumble profile increases your matches by 31 per cent so the more the better."

Photos with a possible significant other

You may love the picture of you and your ex or your sibling or your best friend. According to the dating app insiders, the strangers swiping on you do not. The Hinge study calls posing with a possible S.O. the "epic fail" of dating photos because such photos receive 98 per cent fewer likes than the average photo.


In addition to posting photos, most dating apps require you to fill in a profile or answer some questions about yourself. Here's how not to do it.

Saying too little

Gillies says, "The more complete the profile, the better." This includes not only your self-description, but answering questions that your app of choice asks you. They're usually using the answers to help find you some potential matches. However, you should also try to avoid saying too much. Faur observes "Sometimes people can write profiles that are too long. Remember to keep it short, snappy and to the point."

Poor spelling/language

Even if you say all the right things, it's important to say them correctly. Michael Kaye is the global communications manager for OkCupid and he says, "75 per cent of people say they're less likely to respond to someone with spelling mistakes in their profile, and about half of all OkCupid users says spelling mistakes annoy them."


You matched, now you have to break the ice. What makes someone who likes your profile decide they don't want to go on a date with you?

Texting too little

One word openers don't do very well. According to Kaye, just saying "Hey" has an 84 per cent chance of being completely ignored. "Instead," he recommends, "look at their profile and comment on something you like."

Texting for too long

Saying too little is a problem, but so is dragging on the conversation for too long. Gillies recommends trying to set up a real-life meeting sooner rather than later. According to Bumble's data, "The longer the back and forth in text, the more we see matches fall off."

Sending unsolicited nudes

This may seem obvious. But according to a representative for Bumble, unsolicited nudes are so pervasive and so dangerous that the company has trained an AI to recognize your genitals. They call it the "Private Detector" and it will blur the photos and notify the recipient that they have received something that is "potentially inappropriate."

Asking them to dinner

Kaye says that OK Cupid users are most likely to want to go for coffee for a first date. The data from Hinge says that drinks or a show are both more likely to be accepted as first dates than dinner. However, if you must, Hinge has also found that fried chicken or vegan are the two most likely-to-be-accepted food propositions, with a 24 per cent and 23 per cent success rate.

Clifton Mark writes about philosophy, psychology, politics, and other life-related topics. Find him @Clifton_Mark on Twitter.


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