Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What does seeing someone's face tell you?

Asked by wundayatta (58591points) September 30th, 2010

With the internet, it is easy to become friends or even lovers with someone without ever seeing them. I think that most of want to see what our friends look like. Why?

What do looks tell us? Could it change our feelings about a person? How? Why?

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29 Answers

Jude's avatar

Yes, it’s important. I may not be attracted to them physically.

I’ve done it. I met a woman online, got to know her via emails and phone calls. She sent me a photo, yet, it turned out that it was an older photo (15 years). I felt a connection with the woman prior to meeting her and you could say that I had feelings for her. I hate to say it, but, when I met her, that all changed. She sure looked different from her photo. Not to sound shallow, but, you have to have the physical.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, it’s better to know what they look like so things like this don’t happen.

I want to see what people look like because it’s easier to build the relationship? You’re not going to divulge certain information with someone you don’t even know, right?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t know – but it’s something, a sense I get…though of course, a picture could be deceiving.

downtide's avatar

A person’s physical appearance makes no difference to whether I would want to be friends with them or not. It would matter much more for a lover, but I’m not in the market for one of those so it really doesn’t bother me at all.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Most of how I perceive the world is visually, so I guess it justs helps me perceive what makes up the person. One more part of what makes up the sum.

muppetish's avatar

While I do enjoy being able to see the facial expressions of people I meet, I don’t think it is necessary to the process of becoming friends. I have been acquainted with people through the Internet for a couple years shy of a decade, and I have never felt the need to see their faces or hear their voices (though it is always pleasant to have the opportunity.) What I enjoy about the luxury of being able to see others is tied to how beautiful they are (on surface level and as a transmitter of their inner beauty.)

Concerning the Internet, I have reservations on sharing my physical appearance because I don’t want who I am to be misconstrued with how I look. This is unavoidable in person and it takes too much effort to convince others to look beyond the exterior.

Jude's avatar

For the record, I was talking about potential lovers (not friends).

JilltheTooth's avatar

I rely on non-verbal cues, so meeting someone in person (not just seeing a picture) would make a huge difference to me. And, @mama_cakes , representing oneself with an old (and therefore misleading) picture is lying a bit and therefore says something about her character.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

90 percent of communication is non verbal.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Seeing a face, pouring over the lines that time has made, noticing the glimmer in someone’s eyes, looking at the smile or frown, and feeling that place where the chin turns to neck with your fingers are all important ways to get to know a person. It tells us so much about where a person has been and whether or not they are looking forward to where they are going.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

After hawaii jake’s answer I’m going to get excited everytime I see a face. :)

wundayatta's avatar

I forgot to put this in the details. When I said “see” a face, I meant see a picture of that person, not see their face in real life. Sorry about that.

partyparty's avatar

Aw that is so very romantic @hawaii_jake :)

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

EYEZ! But, looks to me are VERY important. Next is body.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’d say that in many cases, looks can make a difference for some people. Isn’t that part of the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ theory? There have been discussions on this site about certain physical appearances where people have said that they either take a step back or draw the line.

Some people don’t like baldness, piercings, tattoos, height, body shape, shifty eyes, certain skin colors, nose hair, disabilities…and the list goes on. Why do they feel this way? Maybe it goes against their beliefs; maybe the person reminds them of someone that they don’t like;, or maybe they envisioned Prince Charming/Cinderella, and that is what they have their heart set on.

ucme's avatar

It tells you what they may or perhaps may not look like. On a related topic, I read somewhere today that one in five relationships started out on the internet!! Pretty amazing stat if accurate.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@ucme Both my brother and I met our SOs on the internet. His was through a dating service. Mine was purely by accident.

ucme's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer—Oh i’m not saying there’s a damn thing wrong with it, not at all. Good luck & best wishes to anyone who finds love anywhere they can find it say I. Just suprised it was relatively high that’s all :¬)

CMaz's avatar

It tells everything.

Eyes being windows to the soul.

And, weather or not they brush their teeth. ;-)

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

It also ensures that the person you’re talking to is who they say they are.

Of course there aren’t any real statistics that I know of, but I’m sure it would surprise people how many people lie about themselves over the internet.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@ucme No problem…just wanted to throw that tidbit in considering two people from one family met their SO that way. Bars, school and work environments surely must still be in the top 5.

ucme's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Oh i’m sure they must. Work is where I met my better half after all

Neizvestnaya's avatar

For online friendships then it’s just an extra treat to see the eyes and maybe smile of someone you share your brain with.

For online lovers then it’s an important piece of bonding towards attraction, infatuation, fantasy, comfort and security. To get a picture of someone during their day feels like it tells you how they’re really feeling.

Scooby's avatar

So who’s going to go first with the real photo’s?? over to you wundayatta ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

@Scooby I don’t do that. For some people (not me) the theory is that looks shouldn’t matter. You like a person, not a face or a body. If you like what they say and how they think, it shouldn’t matter what they look like.

Several people have asked me for a photo recently, and I find myself wondering why. What does it tell you?

I think there is a certain satisfaction in seeing what someone looks like—seeing if they look anything like what you imagined. However, there are sometimes high stakes involved. If there is any kind of flirtation or possibility of wanting something more, then the stakes are much higher. Depending on how you look, the other person might still be interested, or utterly lose interest.

Many of us (most?) choose not to use our pictures as avatars here. I don’t, and even on Facebook (my public Facebook account), I often use a picture that shows only part of my face. I was warned about giving out too much information online, and what I look like is one of those things that makes me really worried.

I have another concern. For me, anonymity is very important. I couldn’t write what I write if it could get back to me in real life. Now, it could get back to me based on the stories I’ve told, but If there’s a picture of me floating around, the chances of being identified seem to increase dramatically.

So I haven’t posted a public picture. I’ve shared it with perhaps a handful of people over the years. They usually say nice things, but what else are they going to do? “Damn, you’re ugly!” The kind of people I trust wouldn’t say anything like that.

So what’s the big deal, I wonder to myself. Why would people care whether they see me or not? Aren’t my words good enough? It’s not like we’re ever going to meet. They don’t have to find me at a train station (besides which, I know a good florist). Why do we want to see each other? What do we get out of it? It’s a powerful thing, this desire. I feel it. Others do, too. Still, it seems to me, that on some level, it shouldn’t matter. This is especially true if one thinks one is not very attractive and one is jealous of those who seem to be able to get by on looks alone.

Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

Well can’t really say even if I saw the persons face it would make a difference since maybe looks don’t really match the personality. But either way I’m better off not knowing what some look like unless they ask if I want to see or I ask if can see them. They’re still the same person though.

downtide's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this a little more and I think my position is that I couldn’t be “lovers” with someone where the relationship is only over the internet. It can be a very close friendship, sure. It might even be romantic. But “lovers” implies “making love with” and that for me would require actual physical contact. I believe you can fall in love with someone over the internet, without even knowing what they look like, but I wouldn’t use the word “lovers”, or the concept, until there had been actual real-life sex.

Scooby's avatar


Wow!! After all that I’d buy you a drink anytime! ;-)

Personally I have my real face on my facebook account but it’s only there for close friends & family & whoever would be looking me up. There are however over 180 people on there with the same name as me so a bit of a task for anyone from years ago.. What’s in a face? I like to count myself as one of those people who can see beyond the skin & appreciate the beauty within, ugly comes in many guises & can often be interpreted as beauty, I prefer uniqueness, a quality the majority clamber for but fail to gain….. :-/

wundayatta's avatar

@Scooby I could use that drink! Especially sitting on a deck watching the sunset. Of course, all you’d see of me would be a giant butterfly. ;-)

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