online dating

9 ways to improve your online dating profile: A PSA to men everywhere

Dating is hard, y’all. It’s a jungle out there. I fully commend anyone looking for love (or something like love) for going online and downloading dating apps and putting themselves out there.

This winter, I dabbled in the online dating world and joined Bumble.While swiping through profiles, I noticed that there were lots of guys who had serious potential, but for lack of a better word, weren’t marketing themselves very well.
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Unfortunately, apps like Tinder and Bumble rely on a superficial snap judgement to swipe right for like or left for dislike. Looks are subjective, and I’m by no means here to tell you to hit the gym, change your wardrobe, or be untrue to yourself. However, I’ve noticed some trends in male online dating profiles that seriously need to stop.
Out of the goodness of my heart and my need to give people unsolicited advice, I’ve assembled a list of ways you can improve your online image, and hopefully land the love of your life (or love for one night).

Smile

I’m always surprised by the number of online profiles that don’t feature a photo of someone smiling. I’m guilty of posting the broody, serious selfie on social media, but when it comes to online dating there’s a fine line between sultry, and mugshot.
That’s why it’s important to feature at least one photo of yourself smiling. A smiling face is approachable, it shows you like to have fun and at least ONCE thought something was funny.
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Avoid the low angle selfie

Nobody looks good from this angle. Taking a low angle selfie is basically saying to someone, “This is what I look like while you’re blowing me.”
I get it, it’s embarrassing to be seen taking a selfie, but sneaking a selfie while in your car from the perspective of your gas pedal is not cute. If you’re looking for pictures for your online profile, there are other, more flattering ways to take the perfect photo!

Tread carefully with mirror selfies

Mirror selfies were meant for a time before the front-facing camera. Although not as bad as the low angle selfie, mirror pics can go awry if your bathroom/bedroom is a mess, you forgot to flush the toilet, and your beard trimmings mixed with toothpaste have caked to the bathroom sink.On the upside, I do get to see what kind of phone you use, that you use Crest toothpaste and that your shower doors are spotless and streak free (bonus points for a clean guy!).
Mirror selfies are cheese-ball, and we all know they’re just sneaky ways for us to show off our bodies/outfits to prospective love interests, but for the love of God, choose your setting wisely!

Pets are always a good idea

Studies show that including photos with your pets increases your attractiveness to women by 25%* Dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, your Uncle Murray – grab something covered in fur and snap a photo. Having pets shows potential interests that you’re capable of caring for something and can be gentle and nurturing … just like you will be with our future babies.
Too much too soon?
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Avoid sunglasses

Is that you? I can’t tell.
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and you might as well be a soulless ginger if you include a photo with sunglasses.

Leave the ex out of it!

Unless you’re going to Photoshop over your ex’s face to make it look like you’re embracing Hillary Clinton, don’t bother posting a photo that features your cropped out-ex.
Girls tend to take more pictures than guys, which means during your relationship, she probably took a shit ton of pics, and now that you’re single you can’t find a decent pic to post without her lying cheating face in it!
Don’t fret (or crop) The solution here is simple: Take photos specifically for your online profile or just take more pictures the next time you’re out with friends!

Keep your shirt on

We get it, Casanova – you work out. If you’re posting a picture of your shirtless self, there’s a 9/10 chance I’m swiping left because you’re coming across as someone using Tinder as a personal little black book of conquests.

Limit group photos

It’s OK to include a group photo on an online dating profile. Firstly, this signals to me that you’re capable of forming emotional attachments to people (huge plus). Secondly, it gives me a chance to scope out your friends in case you and me don’t work out.
Include group photos if you’ve already included several solo shots. I shouldn’t have to play Where’s Waldo to figure out who you are!
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Tell me about yourself

Your profile should be your elevator pitch to the dating world. Like to travel? Include pictures of yourself on holiday. Love sports? Include some snaps of you playing hockey or soccer. Hate everything? Include a photo of yourself holding a sign that says, “I hate everything.”
That being said, starting conversations online can be intimidating! The hard part of online dating isn’t matching with someone over Tinder, it’s about starting a conversation to see if you’ve got that textual chemistry!
A good idea to get conversations started with potential matches (Especially Bumble where the ladies have to message first) is to pose a question in your profile as an ice breaker.
Ex: What’s your favourite city and why?
      If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
      What’s the one food you could eat for every meal and never get sick of?
Separate yourself from the pack by avoiding boring conversation!
These simple tips and tricks can help change your online image from “serial killer” to “bring him to Christmas dinner.”
Promote your best self online and offline. I’m no expert when it comes to making a relationship last, but I can tell you that as a judgmental female of consenting age, I’m your prime demographic when it comes to online dating.
Be yourself, have fun, and never accept candy from strangers.
Go forth, and wear protection.
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*Based on my own personal research of looking a pictures of men with puppies
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That time my photos were used by a Catfish: My experience with online deception

I could see the headlines now,  “Canadian nobody lures London woman to her death in mistaken identity sex trap”

A little wordy, but fitting.

On Tuesday evening I received the following message via Instagram,

Hey! I hope you’re okay. So random- I came across your Twitter profile because of the bachelor and realised I noticed you from somewhere

I had just arrived home after a long day of travel and was aching for my bed. I brushed off the message as a scam, and thought some hacker was trying to get me to follow a link to a virus and carried about my plans to turn in early.  Then I received another message…
I think that someone’s using your pics with ur blonde friend on a threesome website here in London! (Don’t judge me for using it lol) But I saw you live in Canada…So yeah thought I should let you know!” 
My stomach dropped. Ever the wordsmith, I typed my reply, ” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. Is this for real?!? Random yes. But…Really?!?”
I frantically paced back and forth while waiting for proof that I was being used in some kind of 50 shades of Grey meets Catfish type scenario. Within minutes, my online soothsaying  guardian angel provided a screen cap of an online profile with several of my personal photos under the username “AmyJo.”
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I couldn’t contain my laughter.
I say a lot of dumb shit. I’m constantly joking about diabetes being the ultimate diet, about my plans to start an online dating site called Daddy Issues for children of divorce, and most recently, while watching an episode of Catfish on MTV, I declared that the ultimate validation of my looks would be to have someone use my photos to Catfish another person.
I giggled to myself while musing on the way the universe works. Just my luck. The universe doesn’t listen to me when I say, “I want to marry Jake Gyllenhaal” or “I wish I won the lottery.”   No. That would be TOO good. This is the one thing the universe picks up and brings into fruition.
I was flattered for a good two minutes, before I burst into tears. I looked at the photos that were being used and realized they came from my blog. I immediately blamed myself for being foolish and sharing my personal life on the internet. My knee-jerk reaction was to delete everything and live off the grid, off the land, in a Podunk town in Iowa. I felt exposed, vulnerable, stupid, angry… the whole spectrum of emotions.
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Then, I stepped outside of myself and my feelings and thought about the people who thought they were talking to  “me” online. The fact that someone used my photos to make an online dating profile is one thing, but the sexual component to the site introduced an entirely new set of concerns. I’m all for people doing what they want to do sexually, but  hours of Dateline and Law and Order episodes immediately brought the worst case scenario into play. I would hope that anyone using ANY kind of online dating site would arrange to meet in public first, but I was worried someone would arrange to meet with “me” and be in danger when they discovered little ol’ AmyJo is not who she appeared to be. I couldn’t bear the thought that someone could get hurt physically or emotionally because of this fake profile.
I immediately contacted the site about their user, but 12 hours later I still hadn’t received a response. Taking matters into my own hands, I joined the site and sent AmyJo a message to stop using my photos because the jig was up!
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The next day I received a response from the site that the user had been deleted, and they gave their apologies.
Whatever.
I decided it was best to see if any of my photos were being used online, and ran several Google image searches uploading my images into the search engine as well as the image location. (For more information on how to run these searches, click here).  Nothing out of the ordinary turned up.
The problem with sites like LikeThree, is that they require you to sign up in order to access user profiles. This means, no Google search would detect that your images are being used. It would be up to the users of the site to save an image, and then complete a search to see if the user in question, is in fact, who they say they are.  Had it not been for Twitter and the #TheBachelor hashtag, I would never have known that my images were being used for a fake profile. The scary thing is, I don’t know if they’ll be used AGAIN or where else they’ll appear.
There are all kinds of crazies in the world – all kinds of people with ulterior motives looking online for images to steal. There are ways you can protect your images (watermarks for example) but how much of what we do, create and upload is at the mercy of the ethics and morals of other users?  With an open Instagram, Twitter and WordPress, should I really be surprised that my images were stolen?
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These questions have been swirling around in my mind for the past few days, and I still feel strangely vulnerable even after everything’s been taken care of (to my knowledge). Even though the real issue is with the people who are stealing these images,  I’m not sure there will ever be a way to ensure people stop creating fake accounts and profiles. Unfortunately, we can only practice safety and caution when meeting and talking to people online.
Click here for more details on safe online dating practices.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the person who came forward about this deception, and I’m glad they’re safe and caught AmyJo in these lies. My friends have been really great about the ordeal, sharing in my fears as well as doing their best to make me laugh. It’s been decided that if ever I do something out of the ordinary, a little risque or out of character, I will be affectionately dubbed “AmyJo.”
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No, it’s AmyJo

Has this ever happened to you? Have you or anyone you know been the victim of a Catfish?
Tell me!