Profile Pictures

Profile Pictures are Worth A Thousand Words

Today we’re covering one of my favourite topics—Profile Pictures!

I will admit, I am often guilty of being highly critical when it comes to crafting a dating profile. I like to think of it as a resume for love. Please forgive my passion, but I cannot stress enough, how important it is to put your best foot forward with a flattering photo.

Your photo is the first thing people see, and it’s what will make them want to swipe right or message you. We have done some experiments to see what gets the right attention and what attracts the wrong attention.

Did you know most people make up their mind about you within the first six seconds?

So, what are your profile pictures telling them at first glance? Your first goal is to just get them to give your profile a second look; pique their interest!

Profile Pictures Are a Must

Not having photos on your dating profile will get you all the wrong attention. If people think you want to be anonymous, then most will assume you are only after a casual sexual encounter. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then let’s make sure you post a really good photo that indicates this isn’t what you want. 

It is better to wait until you are ready to post your profile pictures and your bio is complete before you start browsing so that you start out on the right foot.

Without a photo, you will only attract unwanted attention, and this can be hard for some people to handle.

Your main photo should be you and you alone. No children, friends, family, or pets. Just a nice, clear photo of you. Pose naturally, smile, dress and wear your hair as you would for a typical first date.

Headshots are great, but you should also include a full-body photo in your profile.

Depending on how many photos you can upload to the site or app you’re using, you can include group shots, but make sure it’s not the first thing they see. Nobody wants to go hunting through a photo to find out which one you are.  

There are some apps that hide or blur your photos, so that you have to get to know someone before you make a snap judgement on their appearance.

It is a great tool to get you to pay a monthly subscription as most people are so curious they will pay just to see what someone looks like, and then you choose who you reveal your photo to. 

Keep Your Photos Updated

Ok, let’s get serious now, why would you want to put a photo up from five years ago? None of us are getting any younger, that’s a well-known fact! People are known to send the oldest and best photo they have, and it infuriates me. I am often sent a photo before a consultation to show me how a potential client represents themselves and when I meet them I do a double take!

When I ask how old the photo is, I inevitably hear a story about someone’s brother’s wedding from three years ago. It makes me crazy.

No wonder they are not getting any second dates! Usually, the first date doesn’t even last longer than 30-60 minutes, depending on how polite the other person is. I understand feeling self-conscious about aging, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you misrepresent yourself online.

Keep your photos current and make sure they’re an honest reflection of you. We are constantly changing. Anytime your style changes, you update your hair colour, gain or lose weight, etc. you should be updating your photos. If you’re clean shaven, don’t have a beard in all of your photos. 

You should also change your photos up every three months or so, after all it doesn’t reflect well if people see the same photos. They’re likely to think you are a serial dater. If a photo is not generating the right interest then change it sooner. Play around with your profile pictures and bio until you find what works. 


Body Language

How to Speak Fluent Body Language

Joe Navarro has written several books on body language and non-verbal communication. In his book, What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, Navarro discusses how non-verbal communication is guided by the limbic system, a very primitive part of our brains. 

The limbic system assesses danger and risk, preparing the body for fight, flight, freeze, or fawn reactions. It is also the portion of the brain responsible for the high we feel when we fall in love. 

Once you learn how to read key phrases of your partner’s body language, you’ll be better equipped to decipher their needs and fill their love tank.

According to Vanessa Van Edwards, Author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, there are over 800 non-verbal signals made during a 30-minute first date

The problem is, we’re not taught to be aware of the signals we’re subconsciously giving off or how to read and interpret others’ cues. It’s just one of those social skills we’re expected to pick up and adapt to which is difficult or even impossible for some.

Decoding Body Language

Being even marginally aware of body language, can lead to better connections and conversations. Some suggest as much as 80% of human communication is non-verbal.

Although it may be difficult to decode, there is good news. Body language is a more honest form of communication than verbal because so much of it is subconscious. Even the best poker faces can’t control micro-expressions. 

She’s leaning in; that’s good. But is she trying to get closer to you or just the charcuterie board?

Fellas, we already know that women have better intuition, so learning to read your date, may take some practice. 

It’s true that crossed arms and fidgeting can be a sign someone is disinterested, angry, or closed off. But it’s important to take the entire situation into account.

Is this your first date? It could just be a sign of anxiety. Did you cross your arms first? Perhaps they’re mirroring you; in this case it could indicate increased interest. 

Positive non-verbal communication can include blushing, fumbling over her words, playing with her hair, fiddling with her clothes, or touching her lips. Getting tongue-tied often means one is nervous and trying to make a good impression.

Did you know hair follicles release pheromones?

Pay attention to whether she opens her body toward you or away. Subtle touches are great signs. If she slaps your knee when you make her laugh, or touches your arm for emphasis, you can bet she’s into you. 

Mirroring

Mirroring is subconscious mimicking. You know the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? It’s true. If someone likes you, they will start to adopt your mannerisms and movements. 

We like people who are like us. Love and belonging are a vital part of our hierarchy of needs. It’s why cults exist and civilizations survive.

Now that you know this, you can alter your own behavior to mirror your date and build a stronger connection.

Don’t be creepy about it and follow her every move, but subtle things like mirroring the way she leans on her elbow, or fiddling with your tie after she adjusts her necklace. 

Know Your Angles

First and foremost, I want you to relax and sit comfortably on your date. Take a few deep breaths, because the most important thing is that you feel confident and secure.

Now, let’s think about how to make small adjustments to your posture so that you’re comfortable, but still giving off positive energy.

Tilt your head slightly when she speaks to show you’re listening intently. Try to maintain an open position and close some of the space between you.

Angle your body toward your date—head, shoulders, knees, and toes—pointed in her direction. Notice her body language, is she angled toward you or is she pointing directly at the door?

Touch Yourself

Your beard produces significantly more pheromones than your head. Increased testosterone causes facial hair growth, so twirl your mustache or stroke your beard, and watch the ladies come running.

On second thought, don’t touch your face during a Pandemic. But when it’s over, you should know how to use your hands to flirt. 

Touching your throat or neck indicates you’re not a threat. You can also mess with your hair, fiddle with your watch, adjust your glasses, etc.

Eyes Are Everything

Speaking of glasses, avoid wearing sunglasses.

Eye contact releases the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Studies show your eyes dilate when you look at someone you care about. Both of these are hidden behind shades.

I do want to issue a word of caution. Despite the heading, eye contact is not everything. There are a number of conditions and diagnoses which make eye contact difficult or impossible for people to maintain.

Even if she’s not staring longingly into your eyes, notice where she is focusing her line of sight. Has something just caught her attention briefly or is she signaling rejection?

Is she staring at your lips then coyly averting her gaze? It might be time to think about leaning in for the first kiss. 


Online Imposters

How to Spot Online Imposters

Fun fact about me: in my twenties, I tried online dating. Back then, online dating was new and taboo. Like Fight Club, the first rule was don’t talk about it; lie about where you met. It was as if I had become a member of some clandestine society, wearing this figurative offline cloak of secrecy. Not only did I not discuss it, I certainly would’ve never considered writing about it. But, here I am and frankly, the statute of limitations has expired. So let’s take a long hard look at online imposters and how to protect yourself from them.

More is Not Always Better

Keep in mind, two decades ago there were only a few players in the online dating market, a stark contrast from today.

It didn’t matter if you were seeking a fellow dog lover, or a faith-focused Christian, maybe even a partner who was living the farm life there was no online platform bigger than Match.com. Yet, their online community was a collective of all walks of life, so niche preferences didn’t make the cut on any drop-down fields when building a profile or searching the profiles of others.

While the online market is filled with countless additions since then, no matter what the URL they all do have something in common—online imposters.

They are filled with attractive men and women, seemingly looking for a committed relationship. They have bios that speak to every disservice or pain-point any reader has or ever will encounter in a relationship.  

This is the first of many red flags.

Can you relate? You read her profile and wonder how she can possibly be single? She’s only 66 miles away. You begin to think you’d travel for someone this incredible. Suddenly your distance deal breaker is negotiable because this woman shouldn’t be single, but you’re glad she is.  

Listen to Your Instincts

This is where I go back to my great-grandmother’s advice (this will be a common reference in my blogs) that lives with me 30+ years later.

If it’s too good to be true, it is.

If you are online, it’s safe to say you have yet to find one single person that captures just a few of your wants. Then all of a sudden, here comes someone who seemingly possesses everything you are looking for. It’s a catch-all sales tactic most often seen on late-night infomercials.    

Okay, so you messaged the wildly attractive no-way-they’re-real profile...no judgement here! I admire people who believe the glass is half-full. However, there are countless good-hearted people who have been scammed by online imposters, so I must advise you to be skeptical as you move forward. 

If within the first few messages you notice any of the following red flags, I urge you to end the conversation and move on: 

  • They give you a different name from the one on his profile.They’re likely on several sites under different aliases.
  • He invites you to message using an app like WhatsApp or Kik
  • They tell you they’re not officially divorced. It’s likely their spouse is not even aware they’re unofficially divorced.
  • Their original location was local, but after you connect, they are traveling abroad, usually urgently.
  • They ask what you do for a living, specifics about your family, what zip code you live in, but refuse to answer the same or similar questions. Ever hear of stranger danger?
  • Beware when you ask a specific, yet common question about their hometown. For example, I once asked a man from Chicago if he was a Cubs or Sox fan. He replied that he wasn’t into basketball.

If your intuition is alerting you to stranger danger, it’s time to listen.  

Spelling & Grammar

Many online imposters will use exceedingly poor spelling and grammar despite often boasting post-graduate degrees. Pay attention, this is where the journalist in me kicks in. It’s one thing to have a misspelling here and there. No telling, they may be on the go, in a hurry, or maybe they just have fat fingers, who knows? 

Does their language style and conversation skills match the profile they’re portrayed? The improper use of words and verb tenses, as well as bizarre punctuation are all big red flags. If your intuition hasn’t kicked in just yet, well, I’m trying to help you here!   

Why are there so many online imposters? What can they possibly gain? There are a million reasons why someone is online and maybe they’re bored just like you? But, other reasons can be far more dangerous and deceitful. 

Use Common Sense

If you met someone in a bar or a social event and they asked you deeply personal questions in a very short time period, it should sound an alarm. Gut-instinct is something we are all born with, but it's a conscious choice as to whether or not we listen and allow it to guide us.  

Be weary of anyone that asks you to talk in great detail about yourself. It’s easy to feel flattered that another person is eager to learn about you. No one can fault you for loving the attention, but don’t lose your sensibilities in the process. We have all been living in quarantine for the last year, so it’s easy to get caught up in compliments, if even you know they’re coming from an online imposter.  

These imposters are very good at what they do. They quickly build a connection with you from what you tell them. The information you give them in conversation is used to craft a script that speaks to your heart. They want to hook you and leave  you with the impression that this stranger truly cares about you.

I’m sorry, but...

Online Imposters Do Not Care About You

Sadly, they craft messaging around the very private information you share with them. You could go on wasting your time or worse, losing money. Some ask for you to send them unused gift cards, bank account information with the end goal—money. Don’t fall for the scheme. 

You are talking to a scam artist, not your future husband or wife. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received thousands of reports of romance scammers who created fake online relationships only to steal their victims’ money. 

Signs of a scam are always evolving, but the FTC boiled it down quickly:

  • Tell you they love you quickly.
  • Are from the U.S. but are overseas either for business or military.
  • Ask for money in an attempt to lure you off the dating site.
  • Promise to visit but an emergency prevents them from doing so.

Please be smart. While I’m warning you, I’m not the U.S. government, and even they know this is dangerous territory.  

View the FTC’s report here.

When you’re online, lead with your head, not your heart. All of the cues we are privy to in person: body language, mannerisms, eye contact or validation of one’s appearance are absent online. An online photo on a dating site isn’t confirmation that someone looks like that today or ever.

So, whatever method you opt to use to find love, be sure to properly vet them or employ others to do the work for you. It’s a jungle out there, so arm yourself with your weapons of gut-instinct and common sense. It will help save your heart and perhaps, your wallet!  

Stay safe in your quest for love, 

Jodi 

*If you feel as if you have been a victim of an online dating scam, please report your incident to reportfraud.ftc.gov and the respective online dating site.


Conversation

30 Questions to Get the Conversation Going

In her book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, Vanessa Van Edwards, separates conversation into three categories based on how long you’ve spent with someone: five minutes, five hours, or five days.

I believe everyone opens up at their own pace, so I categorize interactions into small talk, ice breakers, and connection builders with each one digging a little deeper to get to know the other person better.

Below, I’ve compiled ten sample questions for each section. 

Conversation is a delicate dance of leading and following. It’s a matter of giving and receiving information. There’s an art to being vulnerable and asking probing questions without crossing a boundary or oversharing.

If you’re going to ask about deal breakers, be cautious in how you do so. You don’t want to give off negative energy.

For example, don’t ask your date who she voted for or to which political party she subscribes. At the same time, don’t announce those things about yourself. It’s too direct and very off-putting. Instead, focus on sharing your core values and learning about hers.

If your values align, the rest will follow. 

Start Small

If you’re an introvert like me, small talk probably isn’t your area of expertise. Unfortunately, it’s a highly-valued social skill in our society. So, I find it helpful to have a few open-ended questions on hand, to get the other person talking and let them dominate the conversation.

This allows me and my anxiety a break so I can do what I do best—listen. 

  1. Have you read anything interesting lately?
  2. Do you belong to any organizations?
  3. Who is your celebrity crush?
  4. What is an average day like for you?
  5. Do you do any volunteerism or charitable work?
  6. What is your favorite/dream travel destination?
  7. Tell me about the best and worst parts of your day.
  8. When you visit your hometown, what is the one place you have to stop at?
  9. Do you have any pet peeves?
  10. What does your ideal weekend look like?

Small talk doesn’t have to be meaningless chatter about the weather. You can use it to really get to know someone on a deeper level if you ask purpose-driven questions and practice active listening.

For instance, by asking someone how they would spend their ideal weekend, you can discern things like:

  • Are they a morning person or a night person?
  • Do they prefer their alone time or group settings?
  • Are they an introvert or an extrovert?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • How do they like to spend their free time?

That doesn’t even include all of the inferences you can make from their non-verbal communication. And you didn’t have to barrage them with rapid fire questions. Also, be prepared to answer any question you ask in return.

Ice Breakers

I would advise you to limit yourself to one or two of these types of questions per date. They can range anywhere from whimsical to philanthropic, but one common thread is that they’re complex questions that require critical thinking.

These are those bizarre questions you see on interview lists like—What animal most closely describes your personality?

One question is fun, two is deep, three is just plain exhausting. They’re great questions, but like many great things, require moderation to be most enjoyable. 

  1. What skill or talent have you always wanted to master?
  2. Who is the most fascinating person you’ve ever met?
  3. Would you rather have the ability to speak any language or speak to animals?
  4. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
  5. Would you rather take several weekend getaways or one extravagant vacation?
  6. What do you do that other people think is annoying?
  7. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
  8. What is your most irrational fear?
  9. If you could solve one global crisis what would it be?
  10. What is the best gift you’ve ever given or received?

Connection Builders

These are deeper questions that can help you really get to know your date on a more intimate-level.

  1. What is your favorite book of all time?
  2. Tell me about your best friend.
  3. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
  4. Are you close with your family?
  5. What do you love most about your work?
  6. Do you have any side-hustles or passion projects?
  7. How do you want your legacy to be remembered?
  8. What is the one thing that will put you in a good mood, no matter what?
  9. Who is the most influential person in your life?
  10. What is your primary Love Language?

Use your best judgement: if it’s your first date and you’re really hitting it off, these are pretty safe topics. However, if she’s not keen to open up, if her body language is closed off, if she’s giving you short answers—my advice is to stick to lighter topics of conversation until she’s more comfortable.

If your date is slow to open up in conversation, don’t write her off or hold that against her. You never know what she’s experienced in her past. Putting yourself back out there can be difficult. Again, if you share similar values, it’s likely a good match. Just be patient and give it time. 


Oversharing

Oversharing - Too Much, Too Fast

Beware! The fine line between being authentic and oversharing

Andrew and Melissa's second date seemed to be going great. They were dining on the patio at one of Andrew's favorite local wineries. The sunset was spectacular and Andrew's anxiety about bringing a date to one of his favorite places was almost gone. Melissa seemed to get his dry humor and he appreciated her quick wit and warmth. She had even leaned into him when they were waiting to be seated and then held his hand when they walked to their table overlooking the vineyards below.

While they were sipping a spectacular Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Melissa casually asked Andrew about his previous dating experience. Without thinking, Andrew launched into the FULL story of his last long-term relationship. Including all the details about their custody dispute over the puppy he had gotten his girlfriend for her birthday, and their disastrous last vacation. Andrew told her how they met, about their moving in together, all the things that went wrong afterward, and their messy breakup. When Andrew finally stopped talking, he noticed that Melissa was no longer smiling. After finishing dinner, Melissa got a Lyft home.

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