Online dating has a dubious reputation for several not-necessarily-unfounded reasons. I mean, its culture spawned Catfish, an entire TV show about emotional investment being rewarded with deception. It’s hard enough to know if you’ll vibe with someone based on weirdly cropped photos and a few emoji-laden sentences, but generally speaking, our roaming eyes are set to target whatever we find visually attractive in other people (and maybe a few red-flags words to dodge).
You know what I really like? Nice faces. You got a nice face? That’ll buy at least a few minutes of my time until you potentially say something way worse than your face is nice. And you know what’s really confusing? When you cover up your very nice face with a literal forest of facial hair.
It’ll often go like this: I’m swippy-swiping through Tinder and see a hot dude. Skrrrt skkrrrt. I scroll through his photos. There he is on a night out in Madrid (well-traveled), there he is holding someone else’s baby as denoted in the caption (where are these dudes getting all these babies?), there’s a nice candid shot of him out in the wild...wait a minute. Hold up. Where’d that handsome face go? The whole lower portion of it—my favorite part of a face, the part where the mouth is (choice destination for smooching)—is shrouded in a robust beard, taunting my thirst with a follicular, masculine barrier harboring secrets and secret bacteria. Suddenly 50-60 percent of what caught my eye originally is gone. What the hell! Where is Nice Face™? Bring back Nice Face™!
I get it. Men grow facial hair. It’s biology. It must be fun to be able to sculpt and ‘scape it into different shapes, to try on new personalities for fun—like a slightly less committed version of cutting bangs. Plenty of women go totally gaga for a full beard. It would make logical sense then, not to beard-and-switch, as it were, when you are advertising yourself on a platform that is meant to entice people based mostly on what you look like, right?
It would be one thing if every photo was bearded—that’s consistent. But choosing to display both a non-bearded and then fully—thiccly—bearded visage...what is the truth? I understand the impulse to serve options when presenting oneself in your own issue of L.L. Peen—it’s a sampling of the different types of man you could be: clean-shaven man, scruffy man, lumberjack man, Santa man. I am loath to tell anyone what to do with their face, and the irony that this is a mirrored sentiment to the “but you look so much more beautiful without makeup” thing that men say to women is not lost on me, trust. I’m just trying to figure out which face is the face I’d be searching for in the dimly-lit dive bar if we set up a date.
"My general rule of thumb is that if I’d have to create a totally different Memoji to reflect my current appearance, it’s probably best to omit it for the sake of accuracy."
My hair was bleached platinum blonde for the past few years, followed by a handful of other colors not found in nature. It was a very photogenic era of my life. Blue hair was without a doubt the most stirring color on me, as evidenced by the thirst it laid waste to in its hair-flipping wake—I was approached on the street multiple times, my DMs were flooded, my matches were plentiful. I don’t know what it is about blue hair, but wow, what a fun and sexy time for me and my ego. But I wouldn’t use any of those photos in a dating profile now (at least not without a disclaimer of when the photo was taken). My general rule of thumb is that if I’d have to create a totally different Memoji to reflect my current appearance, it’s probably best to omit it for the sake of accuracy. This is how I feel about facial hair on Tinderinos.
Look, I get that the ability to grow a full, majestic beard whenever you fancy must be a powerful feeling. It’s the stuff of pure masculine confidence, of Old Spice commercials, of Hemingway novels. It’s an ace up your sleeve. It’s Big Beard Energy. Keyword there though? Energy. It’s knowing that you could grow a beard that would gain you entry to Mount Olympus, but electing not to grow it out because your face, in its unencumbered glory, is the star of the show here. Embrace your abundant handsomeness, your strong chin, your exposed mouth, and your naked (or semi-nude, stubbly) face, and let that be the look. Plus, I already know you are a dude because you set your dating profile to “dude.” I’ll take your word for it.
Here’s the thing: I’m not totally against beards if that’s how you truly like seeing yourself and it makes you feel the most confident. In the past, I’ve dated men who have grown impressive beards after we met. I didn’t give those beards second thought once I was already in love with them because I’m a sap who believes everything about a person is adorable, probably including their belly button lint. That’s amoré! However. My selfish take here, in the realm of dating a la carte, via apps, is that my greedy eyes wish to fully take in your VNF (Very Nice Face)—all of it!
My other selfish-but-utilitarian take is that there is no way to make out with a bearded dude without getting rashy breakouts on my face, and that is just not a fair trade. Optimistically, in a scenario where we meet and totally hit it off and want our mouths and tongues to touch for a long while, I need to know what I am potentially sacrificing for love. I need to know that you’re a confident individual with the good sense not to keep crumbs attached to your face like some papier-mȃché school project. I need to know: do you currently have a beard or not?
Friends don’t let friends go on crappy first dates.
Originally Appeared on GQ