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How to decode a man’s selfie before the first date

Think of a man’s selfie as a crystal ball into his soul — and a fairly reliable indicator of whether he’s thinking about his abs, friends or settling down and having lots of babies.

There are a myriad of reasons why online dating is the most stressful thing you’ll do this week. Will the guy you’ve only gotten to know from a few photographs and a paragraph of text be a total nightmare? The man of your dreams? Will he pay or should you? Is it polite to flee the scene after eight minutes if he won’t stop talking about how he strengthens his solar plexus? It doesn’t help that the only clues anyone has to go by in this strange, wonderful world are two or three photos, some of which seem awkward right off the bat — because they’re selfies, which may already make you think: Dude, don’t you have one friend who can snap a photo for you so that you can prove to the world that you have a neck?

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“Selfies can be lame,” said Dallisa Hocking, founder of Love FrogKisser, which provides private dating coaching, workshops and single events. “With online dating profiles: Perception is reality. A man that has too many selfies may be self-absorbed. He should have a friend take a few candid snapshots of him while they are out living life (i.e., hiking, road trip). I’ve seen online dating profiles that showcase several selfie photos, and they are essentially the same photo, with the man wearing a different shirt in each one — even the facial expressions are the same in each photo. Don’t you want to go out on a date with someone who shows they do more than sit around their house or car taking selfie photos?”

You may recognize these nine popular selfie shots from dating websites and social media sites. Here’s the scoop from experts on what they could mean so you can determine whether to swipe left or swipe right.

1. Shirtless at home in the bathroom selfie

What is with people and all of these shirtless photos that show them posing in front of a towel rack in the bathroom? Some don’t even bother to clear off their cabinets, so you get to see which brand of toothpaste and acne medicine they use — something no one needs to know until your first sleepover. “Oh brother! You may have a little peacock there and if he looks in the mirror more than you do, he may not be your best choice,” said Dr. Gail Gross, a Houston-based behavior psychologist. Hocking agrees: “Naked or highly suggestive sexual photos in an online dating profile should be outlawed. Are you going out on a date with someone to find the love of your life, or to find a one-night stand? If a man is leading with selfie photos of his body, including nude and highly sexualized photos, they are telling you that they place an emphasis on their physical characteristics.”

2. Driving in his car

Another ubiquitous selfie post: man sitting at the steering wheel of his car about to take off for places unknown. Translation: “Look, I can drive!” said Barry S. Selby, relationship expert, author and speaker. “If you can see the steering wheel logo, then you know my ride is sweet. I’m on my way to somewhere important, because I am important.” Gross adds that we see cars as a symbol of power and sex, so he is giving off “come-hither” vibes with this one.

3. At the gym

Experts were torn on the meaning of a selfie snapped at the gym. “A gym represents energy, youth and vitality,” Gross said. “Unconsciously, we reach for just that kind of person, because biologically we are looking for a good father for our children, so he’s telling you he’s a candidate.” Selby had a different take: “Definitely similar to the one stripped down in the bathroom — look at me, look how good-looking I am, look at my muscles, don’t you like my muscles? I do. If you don’t have abs like mine, you can’t date this fine specimen, so walk away. Now.”

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4. Selfie taken in a place that looks like a club bathroom

“He may be telling you he’s one of the boys, if it’s a locker room,” Gross said. “Otherwise, if it’s a club, he may be trying to impress you with his clubby status. Usually, when someone tries to impress you like that, you might take a look at the polar opposite and consider that he is insecure.”

5. Selfie with a dog

If a man has to post a selfie, this is the one that will melt millions of hearts. “This is a wonderful one,” Gross said. “Dogs are a real come on, like babies at the airport. They are babe magnets and men often attach themselves to pets to reveal the softer side of themselves to reach the softer side of you.” Selby says you can even tell a lot about a man by the type of dog he’s cuddling up to: “If his dog is small, he is going for the cute factor,” Selby said. “If his dog is large or aggressive, likely so is he. If his dog is between, or even a mutt, he is probably a real dog lover. True story!”

6. Selfie making funny face (sticking his tongue out).

He is a goofball, and loves to play,” Selby said, “Don’t expect anything serious from this guy. He will keep you laughing, hopefully.”

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7. Selfie taken with a friend

There are a few different ways you can read this selfie. If you’re a glass is half-empty kind of gal, you might immediately dismiss him because you figure he isn’t mature enough to stand on his own two feet yet. Gross has a kinder possible explanation for this selfie: “Many times when we are uncomfortable, we bring in a buddy for support. I think this kind of selfie can be charming and it lets you know he’s a friendly guy.”

8. Selfie that shows a man standing in front of some place giving the thumbs up

“This is a nice selfie of a man who appreciates life and the fullness of life, recognizing that nature and stress-free environments are important to him, as opposed to just a material life,” Gross said.

9. Selfie with irregular or strange cropping or blanked/blurry edges

Does his photo make it seem as if he cropped out 10 or 12 other people? “Hiding others is usually an indicator he either just broke up, or hasn’t taken a recent photo of himself,” Selby said. “Either way, he is not ready for a new relationship because he is not clear and unattached. Often this is not a selfie, but taken from an old group or portrait shot that includes an ex or unwelcome person.”

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