July 01, 2023

Jewish Matchmaker Journal: The Effect of Filtered Dating Photos

As a Jewish matchmaker who repeatedly emphasizes the importance of using quality and flattering photographs in the dating profile, I’m troubled by a disturbing trend - woman who use photo filters to enhance their appearance are starting to use those photos in their dating profile. I’m sure there are some men doing the same, but I have not yet come across these men in my work as a matchmaker so this post is specifically discussing this trend with regard to women. In this article, I’ll dive into some reasons behind the trend, explore the underlying reasons that someone might use filtered photos, and examine the impact it has on dating dynamics.

The Appeal of Filters

Filters, whether subtly enhancing some minor flaw or drastically transforming your appearance, have become increasingly popular on social media platforms. It’s fun to see an “improved” image of yourself, but presenting the world an idealized version of yourself as reality can be dangerous. Blurring imperfections, adding more flattering lighting, or altering your facial features can be addicting and once you change one “flaw”, you almost always find another that needs fixing. Filters can give you a sense of control over your self-presentation, boost your confidence, and yes - attract more hits from potential matches. These are just a few of the reasons why filtering dating photos is on the rise and why many women are choosing to do so.

Unrealistic Expectations and Disappointment

While it’s true that using filtered photos may initially attract more interest from suitors, this leads to a bubble of unrealistic expectations which quickly bursts when someone meets you in person. The digitally altered version of yourself is often an obvious deviation between your online persona and reality. It’s hard to be objective about your own photos. Most of the filtered photos that I’ve seen have clearly been altered, and I have to guess that many women just don’t realize just how obvious it is. When faced with the unfiltered truth, disappointment is inevitable, as is the feeling of being deceived. Both men and women become frustrated when confronted with a stark contrast between filtered photos and the actual appearance of their date.

Cultural Pressure and Beauty Standards

The pressure to conform to societal beauty standards is a driving force behind the filter phenomenon. Women face immense scrutiny regarding their appearance. In an era dominated by carefully curated social media feeds and influencers with seemingly perfect lives, filters offer you a way of fitting into the narrow confines of these beauty standards. But this only perpetuates a cycle of dissatisfaction, insecurity, and the need for constant validation. The psychological effect of believing you have to alter something on your face or body in order to get a man’s interest is soul-crushing, and further adds to low self-esteem and self-confidence. As a fun experiment for giving yourself a different look, filters are great. When you start presenting your filtered self as reality, you unconsciously send the message that you are not good enough. You are not only sending that message to yourself, you are also openly telling the world, “I am not good enough as myself, so I have to present as someone else.”

Challenging Authenticity and Trust

Using filtered dating photos challenges the authenticity and trust that is  the foundation of a successful relationship. By using filters, you create doubt and suspicion around yourself in what is the least stable period of dating - that initial “first date” where we determine whether or not we are interested in this person, whether or not we feel attraction, and whether or not this person is relationship material. Even if the guy is as attracted by your real self as he was by your filtered self, he will likely be concerned about your ability to be honest in a relationship - and that might be enough to turn him off. Your lack of honesty might not be the only red flag. Using filtered photos in a dating profile can indicate a high degree of superficiality and a lack of self confidence in a person. Confident people show up as themselves - imperfections and all. It’s quite possible that the man you were hoping to impress will now find you superficial and/or someone with serious self confidence issues. Neither of these qualities is very appealing in a partner.

Let’s Hear it for the Boy

If the trend continues to grow as it is, many men will find it increasingly difficult to trust any women's profile and could quite easily become discouraged about ever finding authenticity in a partner or a relationship via online platforms. Using dating filters deepens the frustrations felt by men who desire a genuine connection and transparency.

While filters offer a temporary boost of self-confidence to a woman and garner lots of attention, they can ultimately hinder the development of a meaningful connection. Put yourself in his shoes. Do you want a man using filtered photos in his profile? Do you want to have to wonder if “what you see is what you get” or if you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised when you meet in person?

There are so many factors that are already confusing to men in the dating world, and we’ve just added a new one. Let’s say he’s planned a date with a woman he met online and is about to meet a face-to-face. He shows up to find that she doesn’t look like he expected her to look. How should a man handle this scenario?  Should he walk out the door because he’s been deceived? Should he stay and blame it on the wiley ways of women?

Both women and men need to start getting real. Online dating has proven to be a lot more frustrating than we thought it would be. Singles complain endlessly about dates who use outdated photos, lie about their age, their weight, their location… Haven’t we had enough of the BS? Adding filtered photos to the mix is just one more dating frustration.

Before you post filtered dating photos, consider how confusing and frustrating it is for the men who are browsing dating platforms and deciding which way to swipe. If he spots that the photos are filtered, it might be enough to make him decide you’re not worth reaching out to - which is the exact opposite reaction you are hoping to get by using the filtered photos.

Final words of advice from a Jewish matchmaker? Have fun with your filters - experiment, create new looks, send them to friends and family for a laugh, but keep them out of your dating profile.