Not every woman you date online or meet on Facebook will look like her profile pic. Some women post profile pics from years ago. Some upload profile pics from pounds ago. You, of course, want to avoid those women. So how can you tell if she will look like her profile pic? No system is foolproof, but there are a few ways you can tell.

* Note: “Anthony” and “Kurt” asked that we change their names.

1. There’s only one picture on the whole profile
Anthony James, 34, of Seattle, had been corresponding for a few weeks with a woman he met through an online dating site when she invited him on a ski trip. He was nervous to go away for the weekend with someone he had never met in person — they lived in different cities — but he went for it. He did it primarily because her photo was hot. It showed her wearing a skimpy bikini on the beach. That it was the only photo on her profile didn’t give him pause until they actually met.

“In the photo she was wearing really big sunglasses, and they hid the fact that her face looked like a catcher’s mitt. She was a chronic smoker who woke up at 5 AM every day because she needed a fix. It definitely took a toll on her looks.”

2. All the pics look several years old
James should have learned his lesson after his encounter with the Marlboro woman, but he did not. Another of his online paramours was in her late 20s, but posted photos of herself at sorority formals and other college-era events. The woman he eventually met was 50 pounds heavier than the one in the photos, by James’ estimation. Still, he found her weight less troubling than the feeling he’d been deceived. “It wouldn’t have been so bad if she’d at least warned me,” he said.

3. All the pics are taken from the same angle
Even if there are several up-to-the-minute photos on a profile, you might not be getting an idea of that person’s true appearance. For example, says Kurt O’Connor, 32, of Atlanta, “The oldest trick in the book is when the camera is up high and the woman’s face is tilting down. It’s supposed to say, I’m sultry and sexy, just look in my eyes. What it really means is, I’ve got an extra chin.”

4. The profile contains no whole body pics
When O’Connor was new to Atlanta, he used MySpace to meet local women. This was obviously a few years ago. In retrospect, he says, it was a red flag when one woman never posted any pictures of herself from the neck down. When they met, he explains, “She was about five feet tall and three feet around. It was like a happy Russian nesting doll was coming at me.”

If you do end up on a date with a woman who bears little resemblance to her hot profile pic, don’t assume she lied for malicious reasons. According to Charlotte Kay, a Los Angeles-based marriage-family therapist (MFT) intern, the biggest reason people lie about their appearance is desperation.

“It’s a matter of people wanting a connection with someone and trying their utmost to up their odds in that happening. They’ll do anything to get someone to respond to them. They might think in this fantastical way that when they meet someone in person, they’ll be able to win them over, so it really doesn’t matter anyway.”

With that in mind, consider going back through your own dating profile pics. Are you sure your hair hasn’t receded a little since that trip to Italy? And what’s up with those rowing team photos from college? Remember, the desire to meet someone who is honest and comfortable with their appearance goes both ways.