Do You Call Out Their Old Profile Photos?


Name: Colleen

Is it bad form to tell someone you can tell their profile photos are old? Last week I received an email from a  man on OK Cupid. He only had one photo on his profile and I could tell it was at least 5 years old. I replied and said I liked his profile but was disappointed he only had one old photo posted. When he didn’t respond I wondered if I should have been more open minded. I’m curious to hear if other people have experienced this.
Age: 36

I have zero problem telling someone I know their photos are outdated, but I usually reserve that for guys I’m lukewarm about anyway. (Kind of like when I asked the guy if he was on Bumble to get clients for his personal training business.) If I ask a question like that or say something I know could be construed as rude or inappropriate, that’s a sign I’m not all that interested.

Yes, I think you should tell people that you can tell their photos are old. Most people think it’s perfectly acceptable to use oldish (say 5+ years) photos because they assume they look the same. In some cases, they do.  Most people don’t notice the changes to their appearance over time because they see themselves every day.  They truly believe they don’t look different.In cases where the user posts only one photo and it’s old, they’re definitely trying to deceive their matches. Avoid those people.

If there’s a number of photos to review and the person looks relatively the same in all of them, then there’s no need to call it out. But if they only post one or they post a few and you can tell  all the shots aren’t recent, yes, tell them.  Users of dating sites and apps need to stop wasting other people’s time. Telling them you see through their ruse is a good way to get them to either add new photos or delete their account.

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16 Responses to “Do You Call Out Their Old Profile Photos?”

  1. Fyodor Says:

    If you tell someone this you are basically saying “I cannot decide if you are attractive enough. I do not want to risk going out and having to spend two hours with someone who is actually uglier than the pictures. Please assuage my concerns by posting more photos.”

    People are not going to take this posture…warmly. Imagine if a guy said he wanted profiles that showed more than your face to make sure that you weren’t fat? Would you want to go out with him?

    Everyone is entitled to be as picky as they want and to avoid people whose pictures may no longer be accurate. But by asking them to do this you’re basically poisoning the well.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **But by asking them to do this you’re basically poisoning the well.**

      I think it’s implied that by pointing this out, you’re stating up front that you’re not interested. I think the advice is intended as a friendly heads up like, “Hey, you have spinach in your teeth” or something. But I think the other party probably won’t listen, might turn aggro, and you’d just be wasting your energy.

      • Fyodor Says:

        It seems like the LW was wondering why the guy bailed/disappeared so she didn’t mean it as a friendly-going away suggestion.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          That’s true. I meant Moxie, not the OP. But maybe I was wrong, since Moxie mentions saying that when she feels lukewarm. I figure if I feel that ambivalent, I’m not interested, so better to just not bother.

      • D. Says:

        In my experience, generally speaking, the “friendly heads-up” is rarely taken as such, regardless of one’s intent.

        People know their photos are old. They’re probably posting them because the more recent photos “are at bad angles” or “have bad lighting” or whathaveyou. In short, they know they looked better in the old photo and don’t look as good in the new ones. You telling them just salts the wound.

        I mean, go ahead and do it if you want, but don’t expect a “Wow! Thanks! I never would’ve guessed!”

        • fuzzilla Says:

          No, I agree, I think it’s a bad idea. IF someone would take a critique like that in a constructive manner, it would have to be from a very close friend with their best interests at heart, not some Internet rando. And if you’re the Internet rando, you should have or find better things to do than pick at strangers.

          I wasn’t advocating the position, just saying, “I think this is what she’s getting at…”

  2. Speed Says:

    I don’t know. I try hard not to be cynical, but I have a lot of doubt about people’s willingness to change, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even if a person absolutely wants to change something, they very often can’t do it.

    “Fake/outdated photos” are in this same bucket. No profile is absolutely accurate and honest, but the “lie” of a fake/outdated photo becomes immediately apparent on a first date. On a first date, you could hide a coke habit, marriage, or prison term, but you can’t hide the fact that you no longer have hair or are 75 pounds overweight. A person who believes otherwise, to use an overused term, is “delusional.” A person that delusional is impervious to logic. You could point out—in the friendliest possible way– the obvious, explain that outdated/fake photos are self-sabotage. They might even agree with you. But I’d bet any amount of money that in the end they’d leave the photos up anyway.

    Unless you’re being paid a consulting fee, I think it’s pointless to “school” people. Better to save time and energy and keep moving on.

  3. Yvonne Says:

    “He only had one photo on his profile and I could tell it was at least 5 years old.”

    Really? How do you know that for sure? I’ve always looked younger than my age, and I have sometimes had men ask for “recent” photos, or question how old my (multiple) photos are. Sorry, but they are recent. So you can’t necessarily assume a man’s photos are old, although I admit that I am also annoyed when a profile contains only one photo.

    However, there are people that I have seen on dating sites over the years who never change their profile photos. I met one guy several years ago, and immediately could tell that he’d used old photos. I still see him online with the same photos, although I noticed he did add a blurry one that looked more recent. He already knows his photos are 15 years old; telling him probably won’t change anything. Does he actually want to meet someone to have a relationship with?

    If you’re suspicious about a person from the get-go, and their profile isn’t interesting enough to make you want to meet them, then just move on.

    • HerGuyFriday Says:

      Digital photography has advanced a lot over the last 5 years. It is usually pretty obvious when someone is re-using a JPEG photo that they took on a phone 6 years ago.

  4. mxf Says:

    Using old or overly-flattering photos is another online dating phenomenon I don’t understand. Maybe it’s just a different form of vanity, but I’d rather have someone be pleasantly surprised by what I look like live, instead of left feeling duped.

    One picture wouldn’t have been enough for me even if the guy was dazzling. It says lack of effort or something to hide, as does leaving the profile blank even if we all think no one reads the profiles. If the guy has a good profile, I think it’s ok to send something like “hey, you seem nice, let me know when you finish posting pics to your profile and maybe we can meet.” Less stick, more carrot, but I doubt, like the others, that it would elicit change.

  5. It's complicated Says:

    Meh. I suspect that people who use old photos aren’t that serious about online dating. It’s not like when finally meeting in person, you think to yourself: “he looks old, but man, his personality is on point!” They’re time wasters.

    Click/swipe on.

  6. Drea Says:

    What about your pictures? Are they photoshopped, are you using flattering lighting, your best angle…?

    I wouldn’t question anybody’s pictures, what will that achieve exactly? Hurting feelings? The certainty that your message will be instantly deleted?

    Most guys don’t know how to take a good picture of themselves. Keep this in mind when browsing through profiles so you don’t miss out on great opportunities.

  7. Selena Says:

    From the letter:

    “Is it bad form to tell someone you can tell their profile photos are old? Last week I received an email from a man on OK Cupid. He only had one photo on his profile and I could tell it was at least 5 years old. I replied and said I liked his profile but was disappointed he only had one old photo posted. When he didn’t respond I wondered if I should have been more open minded. ”

    WHY did you think this person’s photo was at least 5 years old?

    And if you thought that, WHY did you think you should call him out on it?

    You would like to meet strangers who look like the pictures they put on the internet…seems reasonable enough.

    But if you have such doubts about their pictures (and their honesty) from the start, what is the point of engaging them further?

    You have already essentially said you don’t want them as presented.

    So why the effort to make them “prove” themselves to you?

    You either want to meet the person, or you don’t. You don’t need to make excuses to yourself or them.

  8. BRM Says:

    The only thing worse then old pictures is glamor shots – almost everyone looks good in a professional shot, then you meet and it’s different. The best way to go is 3-5 pictures (yes full length too) which are your average. This way when people meet you they’ll probably think you look better then in the pictures. I believe it’s also what’s inside that matters but if you put on lots of makeup and lighting to hide the real you this will also be exposed at some point. The league things is really true, if you’re a 4-5 looks wise you’re probably not going to get an 8-9 by posting glamor shots or going the other route and trying to hide something by not including recent pictures.

  9. Steve from the City Next Door Says:

    On a first date I have been called out for using old pics but none of them were older than 1 year. And in fact I was able to show one of them on my phone (and in a group of attempts) so it clearly was not that old. My date seemed utterly dumbfounded. Needless to say there was not a second date.

    On local alt. dating site I used to use there was a woman I distinctly remember who used the same photos for a long time – I would say 5 years off the top of my head. Some people on there hassled her about that and she finally posted with new pics. I would not have recognized the two pics as being the same person without studying them.

  10. Noquay Says:

    I always photograph badly unless done by a pro. Frustrating because photos taken by friends mostly make me look much more unattractive and thus I was getting a good many bottom feeders on line. Solution: stop bothering with on line and stick to IRL. One dude I met didn’t have old so much as pics taken from an angle so as to minimize his weight. We’d talked on the phone a few times first as he lived pretty far away and he kept on about what good shape he was in. He’d worked for the Park Service so yep, that made sense. When we met, I didn’t recognize him at all. Mr In Shape could barely walk on a level sidewalk without being out of breath. He’d wanted to visit my place at over 10k elevation?! I was a tad miffed as I had expended serious time and gas usage to meet someone who is nothing like they appeared on line. True, 99% of on line is wasted time but for those of us in rural areas where compatible folk are few, this is compounded many fold. My photos, though often unflattering, were still recognizable as me. Same hat color, height, weight, etc. I understand that someone who perhaps has aged badly, gained weight, etc yet still wants the younger, fit partner though in reality your lifestyles, activity levels would probably be incompatible from the get go. Why put oneself through even more rejection by lying about who you are, what you look like.

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