Date Doesn’t Look Like Her Photos, He Looks Different In Person, & Using Old Photos On Dating Sites: Misleading Dating App Photos, Beauty Filters, Catfishing Photos

If you have spent enough time on dating apps or know people who have done it for some time, it’s inevitable you will encounter a story of a date who looked nothing like their profile photos. It happens to both men and women.

Photos might look like they are old or the person looks heavier than their photos suggest. It happens fairly often that it has developed its own slang term called kittenfishing. The last thing you want someone to tell you is that you “look better online.”

This deception is all too common on dating apps and for many, it’s super annoying to invest so much time chatting, getting to know each other, carve out time for a date, hire a babysitter or push out plans with friends to only feel like a scammer has entered your life, and now you feel obligated to continue the date and waste 30-120 minutes of your life.

Below are tips on how to ID misleading photos, filtered photos, old photos on dating profiles and photos that have been slimmed down. These tips should be used in addition to screening for fake profiles (more on that here). For tips on how to report people for using old, misleading photos, read this.

Related read: How to vet people on dating apps and do your own background checks on dating profiles here.


Online Dating Beauty Filter Trap – Catfishing On Dating Apps, Catfish Warning Signs 

It would be great if everyone used photos that looked like how they would appear on a first date but apparently that is too much to ask for. Some people make excuses for lack of photos or try to win people over in person with their personality or try to prove the other person is superficial and shallow.

While misleading photos are not as bad as fake profiles aimed to scam, hurt or lie outright about identity, misleading photos are nothing to ignore and it’s important to ID them and call them out on the deception.

If you mislead others in your photos, expect to be ghosted all the time. Some people see nothing wrong with applying filters while others think it’s worth calling out. Sure, some people do this on apps but that doesn’t mean it’s right.


How Old Should Your Online Dating Photos Be? How Recent Should Dating Profile Pictures Be?

The rule of thumb is that photos should look like you now if you were to show up on a date. This means from a weight, tan, haircut, hairstyle, perspective.

Many people are biased or think they have not aged but in reality, most people are poor judges of self-appearances. Friends are not much better as they can be unwilling to be brutally honest with you.


Using Old Photos In Your Dating Profile, Is It Catfishing To Use Old Photos

One of the more common deceptions with dating profile photos is using old photos. Not everyone takes photos often and after a recent breakup or divorce, one is less likely to have photos by themselves.

With that being said, using older photos can be viewed as a type of catfishing – pretending to be someone you are not.

Basic etiquette around dating pictures is that they should represent how you would like on a date today, not last week, not last year, but now. That is the expectation people have when they view a profile.

If you show up on a date, and you get a weird reaction from your date upon first glance, this is the likely possibility. Photos should not only be within 2 years old but should also resemble your current weight, hair color, hairstyle, facial hair, etc.


Why Do People Use Old Photos On Dating Apps? How Recent Should Dating App Photos Be? 

Some people think they look the same, some are delusional, while others have not come to grips that they don’t look their younger selves. Some honestly think they can win over others with their charm if they can manage to get a date.

Others blame not having photos despite the fact that they have a camera in their pocket most of their lives. To avoid being accused of catfishing, keep photos on your profile fresh with 2 years AND make sure you facial hair, height, hairstyle and hair color is accurate.


Taking Misleading Photos From Weird, High Angles, Dating Photos Don’t Look Like You

The other misleading type of photos you are likely to encounter are those that are take from high, abnormal and weird angles. Typically selfies, these photos are often taken to slim the figure and appear more attractive.

Fortunately, most people are aware of this deception and move on but every so often, people new to dating apps are deceived by these odd photos (see weight verification discussion here).

One of the biggest excuses I hear for using such photos is that people don’t have any friends, don’t take photos often or don’t see anything wrong with such photos. Others think full body photos are not necessary. While you can occasionally find a hidden gem on dating apps featuring a profile without full body photos, it’s extremely rare.

Even if the person is as they appear, they tend to be folks who are introverts, are lonely or don’t have a strong social circle. Furthermore, they can have some trust issues as some people don’t like others taking photos of them and only trust themselves with taking their own photos.

View this as a possible red flag when browsing profiles on dating sites.


Bumble Profile Tips!

Learn how to make a good Bumble profile, what prompts to use, what to put in a profile (photos, interests, bios & more). Addit'l help w/ boosts, compliments, messages, best photo/photo order, Bumble premium & more.


How To Screen Deceptive Profiles On Dating Sites: Video Dates, Reverse Image Searches

One method of verifying current appearance is to do an internet search on various platforms to see if the user is active and has photos that are ideally timestamped. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the two most obvious platforms that come to mind but there are most out there that are more insightful.

I offer background checks for clients who have doubt about their date’s identity, appearance, marital status or age.

If those don’t exist, looking up their Linkedin profile photos can also help out depending on if their current photo is recent and/or connected to a job they recently started i.e. branding background, location.

One of the main benefits of dating apps during covid is that many people are not comfortable with a video chat or video date before meeting. This is largely done to make sure the other person looks like their photos.

If you request a video date, it’s possible the other person will decline or make up a bs excuse. Similarly, asking for a video chat can come off as distrusting or skeptical. This method is recommended only if other methods of verifying current age of photos is not possible.

Related read: Online Dating Safety Tips


Online Dating Pictures vs Real Life: Looking At Your Own Photos vs What Others See In Person

When it comes to photos, things can get a bit personal. The way we see ourselves in the mirror is not the same as we see ourselves in photos. Selfies can distort images making them wider while most photos are reflected at 180 which is the opposite of how say we see ourselves in a mirror.

Not everyone can handle what they look like without makeup, photoshop, favorable lighting, air-brushing or other editing mechanism used to enhance photos. Being honest with yourself and being self-aware is key to avoid a discrepancy in your photos vs what you look like in real life to someone else.

He Keeps Asking For More Pictures, Selfies: Why Do Guys Ask For More Photos? Full Body Pics

If you have 4-6 photos that are recent and a combination of close-up, well-lit, full body and not taken from weird angles, then you should not have to worry about providing additional photos. If you change your hairstyle, hair color, and hair length, it will raised doubt about how you look like today.

Some guys ask for more photos so they verify identity, but mostly some guys are creeps and like to collect photos so never give more photos than what is available on a dating profile. Similarly, if a guy asks you to stand up, turnaround or model in a video chat, take that as a red flag.

If you get these requests often, review your profile and make sure it’s recent and accurate. Also, make sure you know how to screen profiles and read people as their are sketchy guys on dating sites looking to take advantage or unknowing women.

Filters On Dating Profile Photos: Why Do Girls Use Filters On Dating Sites? 

The last set of misleading dating profile photos are what is called edited, photoshopped or filtered photos.

These photos can either be stretched vertically to make people slimmer, have filters applied to soften skin and remove blemishes or have filters applied to obscure the face i.e. Snapchat dog filters.

The key to identifying photos is to look for things that look unnatural i.e. items in the background that are stretched out or skin that appears to be way softer than humanly possible or eyes that are too perfect.

A simple Facebook or Instagram search can lead to verified assumptions about users but not always. Ask for a video chat to remove all doubt.


What To Do If Your Date Looks Nothing Like Their Photos

Despite all the things to look out for in photos, there will be times when you show up for a date and the person does not look like their photos. In these situations, it’s perfectly fine to end the date before it starts.

For guys, this might be doing so outside the bar or restaurant to avoid making a scene. For women, it can mean ending the date inside because the outdoor area might be a bit unsafe, dark, cold or unknown.

Be confident in your decision, but don’t make a scene. Explain to the person you don’t feel comfortable continuing the date based on this deception. Yes, it might sound cold, but it is necessary.

Your time is precious, and they need to hear this or else they might do this again to someone else. Ghosting the person and turning around might be safer, especially for women so if you are a guy, this is a perfectly expected reason to be ghosted if you misrepresented yourself.


Bumble Keeps Moderating My Photos: Moderated Bumble Photos, Bumble Photo Rules

Bumble has a rather strict policy on dating profile photos and one of them deals with photos with filters applied. If “your face is being obscured, or has too many filters being used” your photo might be moderated and removed from the platform.

Don’t use filters or photoshop your photos.


How To Tell If Someone Is Lying About Their Age Online? Hinge Catfish, Bumble Catfish

Some simple background checks can provide clues but there are other online services and custom providers who specialize in this.


Is Using Filters Catfishing? Photo Thinner Online, Photo Thinning Apps

Yes, I would say so. Using filters is catfishing because you are altering your image. Deception is being done when using filters even if you intention is for insecurity reasons.


Plenty Of Fish Dating App Bans Photos With Face Filters

POF bans photos with face filters


Hinge Tips For Men, Women

Learn how to make a good Hinge profile, what prompts to use, what info to put in a profile, should you add photo prompts & photo captions, add IG to profile, send comments with likes, send roses?


How To Report Profiles That Don’t Look Like The Person, Bumble Catfish Report

In addition to letting your match or your date know why you ended the date, it’s important to screenshot profiles and messages before the other person unmatches you or even blocks you in a preemptive move to avoid detection.

This is done so you have evidence of your accusation and while one report of using old photos may not yield anything, repeated complaints can lead to a suspension or ban on certain dating apps.

Be thorough in your complaints, i.e. person used photos that are 10 years old and 50 pounds lighter or person used someone else photos or person photoshopped their photos beyond recognition.

In order to make online dating better for everyone, each person should help others out by reporting such profiles that aim to deceive. Each app has their own protocols for reporting profiles and behavior off the app. Check out this page on how to contact dating apps directly with complaints.


Online Dating Asking For Pictures

If your profile is complete, exhaustive and consistent (weight, hair, grooming etc), there should be no doubt about your appearance and no need to send photos to a stranger. Asking for pictures can be a red flag.


How To Tell If A Photo Is Photoshopped? Catfishing With Facetune

There is no perfect solution but photos that have overly soft skin is a red flag. Looking up people on social media for candid photos is another way. Suggesting a video chat also helps.


Using Someone Else’s Pictures On Dating Sites

This can happen given how many people make their profiles on social media public. Be careful. Some profiles are verified on apps like Bumble while others have no verification protocols in place.


How To Look Better Online Without Deceiving People

Don’t use filters. Don’t photoshop photos. Take photos from normal angles. Don’t just show your face (show your whole body). Use photos that are recent and look like you now.

Don’t have these types of photos? Don’t use dating apps.

Related read: How To Look More Attractive  |  How To Look More Photogenic


Beauty Photos, Glamour Photos, Skin Softening – Stop Filtering Your Photos!

Even if photos are not photoshopped, photos that feel too forced, staged can cause doubt in the minds of others can result in fewer likes, matches and effectively dates.


Online Dating Coaching For Men, Women

Help w/ swiping, timing, app choice, messages, filters, deal-breakers, paid features, screening profiles, reading people, ID'ing red flags/liars/time-wasters, date planning, & using dating apps more effectively & efficiently.

Reverse Catfishing On Dating Apps – Why Some Women Are Reverse Catfishing On Hinge, Bumble

Some women are putting up less attractive, sexy photos on profiles so they can see if guys are interested in them vs their looks. This is a common strategy going back to the days of Couchsurfing. Women have used photos without makeup, used photos that were dressed down and in some cases used photos when they were a few pounds heavier. More on this here.


Dating Profiles With Only One Picture

These are likely scammers, bots or people who are dabbling with apps or someone lurking on dating sites. Avoid these dating profiles with only one picture or those without full body photos, those with inconsistent looks or those with hidden features i.e. in the dark, turned to the side or taken from high angles.

Related read: How Many Photos Do You Need For Dating Profiles?


Met A Girl Online, Looks Nothing Like Her Pictures, He Said I Don’t Look Like My Pictures

This is why you meet outside the venue, don’t do reservations/meals for a first date. Don’t make a scene but politely and quietly state you don’t feel comfortable continuing on the first date with her and you feel misled. Wish her the best and move on. You should also feel comfortable reporting anyone to the apps if they look nothing like their pictures – not enough people do this which is partly why this happens as often as it does.


I Have No Pictures For Online Dating, Can I Join A Dating Site Without A Picture?

Yes, in some cases you can but you will drastically lower your chances for success. Don’t bother. If you need photos…

Hire someone, or not.

Take your own photos.

Attend events, expand hobbies, make new friends, ask strangers.

How Can You Tell If A Photo Is Photoshopped? How Can You Tell If Someone Is Catfishing You

Look at other photos in a profile. Look at other photos online. Compare dates. Do a video chat.


Do Not Date List Photos

Check out your local are we dating the same guy facebook groups.


About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie is a dating coach for men & women in San Francisco (clients in NYC, LA, Chicago, & beyond ), as seen in the NYT & Bumble). He helps w/ profiles, photos, wardrobe, messaging, date ideas, red flags, lifestyle choices, hobbies, grooming/hygiene, communication, social skills & offline efforts.