No shirt? Big problem.
At least for men on dating app profiles, apparently.
A recent study by dating.com found men who used shirtless pictures of themselves got 25% fewer matches even though 90% of them thought it improved their chances.
“We do what we think other people are going to like, right?” said Toronto sex therapist-coach Carlyle Jansen, and owner of Good For Her shop-workshop space.
“It’s based on what we like. If men like looking at women images topless or in bikinis, then they think, ‘Oh, that’s what women are going to want also.’ And sometimes preferences are quite different. So it makes that they think that’s what women would like. Plus they probably, if they have what are considered are good abs, have been praised for them before. Like: ‘Oh, well, you know, I can show that part of myself off.’”
In fact, the survey said 66% of women found men’s shirtless pictures conveyed “a lack of maturity and self-awareness.”
That seems a bit harsh, but not to Jansen.
“That’s honest, that’s how they perceive it,” she said. “It also depends on how they’re posed shirtless. If they’re sitting in a baseball cap in a chair with a beer looking goofy. Or is it that they’re on a windsurfer, naturally, you wouldn’t be wearing a top on a windsurfer, but showing that you’re doing something active. Or you’re around a pool at a family gathering and you happen to be hugging your grandma and you happen to be shirtless. It’s partly about context I think.”
Jansen says women might also be intimated by a shirtless photo.
“Thinking,‘Oh, my goodness, are they going to look at my body and wonder how come I’m not in shape?’” she said. “I have to live up to that ideal. ‘Are they going to judge me for the way that I look?’”
Accordingly, the survey found 76% of the women were unlikely to consider seriously dating a man with a shirtless picture, with 15% open to a hookup, and only 9% saying they’d be interested in a friendship.
Jansen said there’s a lot of online advice about how to be present your image on a dating app and generally you should have multiple images and if one of them is a shirtless photo in a suitable context that should pass muster.
Now when the tables are turned, the dating.com study found that women who posted bikini photos on dating apps (women are largely barred from posting truly topless pictures), they saw a 40% increase in matches.
“Certainly, I think that we’re all socialized that women are supposed to be beautiful,” said Jansen.
“I mean, look at all the billboards. And generally, large breasts, cleavage, is seen as the penultimate sign of a sexual woman. And certainly I think that one of things that I see as relationships go on, the sex drops off. So I wonder whether posing in a bikini is one of those things like, ‘I’m sexual’ and ‘We’ll have great sex for the rest of our lives, I promise a great sexual relationship.’ I think that’s what’s read into it to some extent.”
The dating.com study also found that LGBTQ+ community members were four times more likely to post a shirtless picture, but there were no results on how effective such a photo might be.
“That makes total sense,” said Jensen of that quadruple increase in posting shirtless photos in that community.
“If you go on Grindr, you’re going to see pictures of penises.”