If you’ve ever tried an online dating app, you’ll notice a lot of tropes that repeat themselves over and over again.
Most of them, like extreme adventure photos and pictures with pets, make sense.
But I’ve noticed one strange trend that I can’t even begin to understand: guys uploading photos of themselves with their ex-girlfriends to their profiles.
It would never occur to me to post a photo with any of my exes to Tinder, but I see men doing this all the time and so do my friends. It’s truly insane and makes me swipe left as fast as I can.
So I talked to a few veteran Tinder users, plus online dating expert Laurie Davis, to get to the bottom of this weird online dating quirk.
“It just feels loaded”
First, I asked my friends what they think it means when they’re scrolling through a guy’s photos and come across one that’s clearly of him and his ex.
“I almost never — in fact, I think I absolutely never — swipe right whenever a woman is in a photo that appears [to be] like his girlfriend or ex-girlfriend,” one friend said. “Because it just feels loaded.”
“I get the impression that they just broke up with their girlfriend,” another friend said. “And that the only recent photos they have that are good are with their girlfriend.”
It’s true: I’ve heard from a lot of guys that it can be harder for men to find photos of themselves to use on dating profiles since they’re not quite as active on social media as most women. So maybe we’d feel for you a little bit on that point.
But that isn’t all that goes through a woman’s mind when she comes across the dreaded ex photo. The women I talked to also would assume that a man who posted this photo isn’t over his ex — or worse, that they’re still dating. Nobody wants to be the rebound, and absolutely nobody wants to go on a date wondering if they’re auditioning for the role of “side chick.”
Plus, the ex photo will motivate women to compare themselves to the ex in question — and there’s really no good way for that to end.
“Yeah, I really can’t imagine where that photo would motivate me to be like, YES,” my friend said.
They want to “appeal to someone who is [as] attractive” as their ex
So the consensus among my friends is that I’m not crazy or picky — something’s off about guys who post photos with their exes.
But then when I talked to Davis, her answer for why men do this actually made the ex photos seem even more revolting.
As the founder of online dating expert collective eFlirt and author of “Love @ First Click,” a guide to online dating, Davis has extensive experience with trying to improve her clients’ luck with online dating, so she’s seen it all. And that includes clueless guys thinking potential dates would like to see photos of their exes.
“So many guys upload photos with their exes,” she told me, “and most men tell me that they do this to appeal to someone who is similarly attractive.”
Wait — seriously? So a guy who is putting up a photo of himself with his ex is going for some sort of “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”-inspired “your face here” effect?
According to Davis, yes.
“Guys think they are giving their matches a litmus [test],” she said, “but seeing a woman on the arm of someone you’re potentially looking to date is a turnoff.”
When I told my friends this, they were just as repulsed as I was.
“That is ridiculous,” one friend said. “Oh my god. That is so dumb. That doesn’t work.”
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW,” said another.
Davis reinforced what I already knew: that in almost every case, a photo like this will completely destroy a guy’s chances at matching with someone.
“This has the absolute adverse effect” from what the men are going for, she said. “Women tell me that they are incredibly turned off by men who pose with other women in their pictures. The ladies know what you are doing, and it gives a really shallow first impression of yourself — one that is likely costing you conversations.”
Also, talking about former relationships is notoriously tricky ground when you’re dating someone new, Davis said. It’s generally to be avoided at all costs. So why would you insert an image of your past relationship into a potential date’s mind before you’ve even met?
But grossest of all, Davis pointed out, a photo like this makes the man seem like he sees women as interchangeable in his life.
At the same time, any guy who’d post a photo with his ex in order to show girls his type isn’t someone I’d want any of my friends to bring around.
So guys, if you’re tempted to do this, go for it! It’s a great filtration system for the rest of us.
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