Picture Me This

I used to be in a gang. It lasted one mealtime. I was nine years old, and had read a comic book about a cool science fiction hero who had grown up in a gang and who therefore learned cool fighting moves and a sense of self-confidence I envied. So I declared that from then on I would only answer to the name “Lucky Nine”.

My little sister said that was silly and she would only call me Glen. That was the end of my gang career.

Fast forward twenty-eight years and a desire to do something similar fleetingly crossed my mind where I’ve thought about changing something fundamental about myself. I’ve had a bet with a friend about getting matches on Bumble; they are convinced that I already get or should get loads and I tried convincing them that I, in fact, get next to none.

So we came up with a bet – I would log on at least twice a day for five days, would swipe right on at least 25 women I’d like to meet during each session and would tell them when I got five matches. For the purposes of the bet it didn’t matter whether these matches actually messaged me or not; it was the match itself which counted. (I was, of course, hoping a message or two would be forthcoming; I’m not crazy or heartless…)

Unfortunately for me, though, I won. I got one match over the five days despite exceeding my swiping quota, a match who of course didn’t message me within the required 24 hours.

I’m not sharing this in an attempt to engender sympathy, but rather to work out what it might be that is stopping those initial swipes and matches from heading my way. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m an iterative learner and want to tweak and improve things to optimise my chances of finding an awesome woman to date.

There are obviously two elements to a profile – the text and the pictures. I’ll perhaps deal with the text another day, but for now I’ll look at the pictures. I’ve got the standard spread of pictures now – they could always be improved of course, but I’ve covered the bases. And I think I’ve worked out the problem. It’s a serious one, and I’m not entirely sure what I can do about it.

They all look like me.

Shock! Horror! How have I let this happen?! I’ve chosen to use photos which accurately and clearly represent me; if you saw them and then saw me, you would be left in no doubt as to who I was. I’ve not tried to hide my face, my body nor any aspect of me. It looks like that might on reflection be a bad tactic.

Talking with women who use dating apps themselves I’ve heard countless horror stories about guys who get creative with angles (not that guys are alone in doing this, of course…) and who love some careful lighting. They hide receding hairlines with hats (“hatfishing” apparently) or only have shots of themselves sitting down. Many even use pictures of themselves from several years ago, before the paunch kicked in perhaps.

Trouble is, for me I’ve got no good pictures from a few years ago to use. I’ve only got photos from the last few months or so, tied to the fact that like some real-life version of Dorian Gray I look basically the same as I did almost a decade ago.

Truth be told, even if I did have such pictures, some of which perhaps put me in a better light, I’m not convinced I’d even use them. Not only is it cheating (which I’ve got some annoying natural aversion to), there’s simply no way of it ending well. My date would clock that something was wrong from the very first moment they saw me and would run a mile; I’d never get the chance to put my wit to work to woo and win them over.

It would also set things off on a very uncomfortable tone as well. That the very first thing they noticed about me and were in some way attracted to was fake, was a lie, would not be a solid foundation on which to build a relationship, however shallow that may be.

Unfortunately it appears that other guys have fewer scruples than I and are happy to be creative when it comes to their snaps. Of course some of them are simply better looking than me – I get that, truly I do. I just have this annoyingly British sense of fair play: I’m being honest with the women I want to meet and I feel like other guys should be too. It’s not going to happen, but does that mean I need to lower my moral standards and do the same because everyone else is?

Or perhaps this explains something even more clearly and palatably than I first thought? Perhaps women are looking at my real photos and expecting for me to have pimped my photos already in some way, so I must actually be way worse looking in real life? Perhaps they’ve downgraded me mentally in the same way that they downgrade most guys online? It would certainly be nice to think that were true.

Perhaps it is, but probably not.

No; for now I’ll retain my real photos and actually look 100% like my profile pictures. This time, at least, it looks like I’ve won my bet. That being said, never have I wanted to lose a bet more.

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