Online Dating

How to Smile on Dating Apps

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wide smile with glasses man

Chloe Gray, Dating Coach

Is your profile full of photos staring blankly into the camera or attempting the “introspectively-lost-in-thought” vibe? Do you hate your smile so much that you’ve tried 30 different versions of stoic before giving up and asking Google? I’ve gotchu.

Prep Work

singing in shower with shampoo bottle shirtless man

It’s more difficult to fake a smile when your body is full of stress because your brain is waiting for something super bad to happen. A bit of prep work before pulling out the camera can make the experience a lot more pleasant for everyone involved. If taking photos stresses you out or makes you uncomfortable, take some time to relax beforehand.

  • Take a hot shower.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Do yoga.
  • Get a massage.
  • Meditate.
  • Watch your favorite comedy.
  • Follow a facial relaxation guide on YouTube.

Once you’re feeling warm and comfy, practice a few easy-to-follow approaches to make your smile feel a little less painful and look much more attractive.

The Weird Fake Laugh Strategy

fake laugh and looking away strategy

  • Force a fake laugh. It’s going to feel and sound really weird.
  • For most people, after the fake laugh ends, a natural laugh will follow.
  • Once the natural laugh ends, smile and take a photo.

Simple, right? When you fake a smile, the muscles in your face often remain stiff from the discomfort of the situation. If you can force a natural laugh, it will loosen up your facial muscles, and the subsequent smile will look more natural.

Comedy as a Crutch

call me hand gesture with man smiling

The only thing better than learning how to fake a smile is learning how to create a natural one on command. Immerse yourself in things that make you laugh.

  • Play your favorite standup routine or happy music while taking photos.
  • Ask the photographer or a friend to crack jokes during the photoshoot.
  • Imagine funny or happy memories.

Cheese is for Mice

funny farmer smelling and eating block of cheese

I know every grandparent and school photographer has told you to say CHEESE when taking a photo, but too much cheese is more likely to give you an upset stomach than make your smile look natural. Instead, use words that end in the “ah” or “ee” sound. Compare saying “cheese” and “money” in the mirror and thank me later. Other words to try if you want to freak out your photographer:

  • Judge Judy
  • Gonorrhea
  • Kidnap Me
  • Daddy

Use Your Tongue

rock and roll portrait with tongue out

  • Press your tongue against the teeth in the front of your mouth.
  • A gentle touch is all that’s needed, don’t add too much pressure, or it’ll create stress lines on your face.
  • If you have gaps in your teeth, pull your tongue back enough that it won’t poke through.

This technique is an oldie but a goody when learning how to smile. It will prevent you from smiling too wide and works great for both open and closed-mouth smiles.

Leave Enough Space for Jesus

man spinning a woman in a dance on dirt road

Have you ever been to a middle school dance? Then you’ve probably met the bitter middle-aged chaperone who separated your angst-filled heart from your dance partner. Well, we’re going to do that, but with your teeth.

  • When you smile, be careful not to press your teeth together.
  • When your teeth are clenched, it will tense your jaw and facial muscles.
  • Instead, gently place your teeth on the tip of your tongue and then pull your tongue back to its natural position.

Those Eyes Tho

smiling man with curly hair

The hallmark of a natural smile is when it extends to your eyes. In addition to practicing your smile, try adding an eye crinkle or some cheekbone action.

Here are a few examples to get you on your way of learning to incorporate the rest of your face into your smiles:

  • An excited smile usually lifts the eyes and eyebrows.
  • A relaxed smile pulls the outer lips up and crinkles the eyes.
  • Sexy smiles can be an asymmetrical half-smile with a slightly furrowed brow.
  • Flirty smiles often involve a head tilt, a raised eyebrow, widened eyes, or a bit lip.


smiling man in green shirt, professional
Smiling on dating apps is a necessity. You don’t need to do it in every photo, but if you don’t smile in any of them, you’ll look like you take yourself way too seriously. Your prospective matches are examining your profile to determine if they’d enjoy going on a date with you, and if your expressions only range from phlegmatic to serial killer, you’re going to have a hard time. Be patient with yourself, get plenty of practice in, and then try adding a smile to your dating profile. You can thank me later. 🙂

If you need help with online dating or getting your profile set up, feel free to reach out for individual coaching, and I’ll get you sorted.