The Vine: July 23, 2014
Here's a two-for-one special on Vine classics: Pets and dating!
I'm 34 and have been dating online for a few years, so I'm not new to the dating-site experience. As a single lady, I'm used to getting a pretty brisk flow of interest/traffic while I have an active profile. However, I recently made a small tweak to my sales pitch that I believe may actually have doomed the whole operation.
Here's the thing: I don't like animals. I have allergies, but honestly, they're really not the prohibiting factor — I mainly just like my clean, quiet house and the freedom to keep unpredictable hours. I have no desire or capability to be a good pet owner, I recognize that in myself, and I firmly believe that both the animals and I are happier apart.
This has been more of a dealbreaker on the dating scene than you'd expect. I don't bother with the guys who use a picture of a Labrador as their profile shot or have screen names like MrPawz, but not everyone who's pet-obsessed puts it out there so obviously. I've recently ended up dating a guy who wouldn't venture outside a two-block radius of his apartment in case his dog needed him, a guy who brought his dog along on the date and wouldn't speak directly to me, only to the dog ("We like her, don't we, Oscar? We think she's pretty, don't we?"), and a guy who refused to take any steps to prevent his cat from sneaking up while I was sleeping and camping out on my naked body after sex (it took a month for the hives to go away).
I had enough and added one little sentence to my profile: "I'm not an animal person." I figured a calm, neutral, nonjudgmental statement of a personal preference would help the animal lovers screen me out. I thought maybe I might even find some of my own people — I know I'm in the minority by a significant margin, but surely there's at least one single gentleman out there who shares my feelings? Well, I was wrong about that. Since then, it's been crickets, apart from one message from a guy who wrote specifically to tell me that I "sound like Cruella DeVille." Apparently, even the scattershot-technique-employing skeezers who hit up literally every female profile on a site have a line, and I've crossed it.
What gives? I thought "not an animal person" was the most innocuous-but-still-direct way to make the point, but is there an even softer phrase I should be using? Should I just take the stipulation back out and resign myself to the fact that guys who love animals also seem to love me? Should I resign myself to dying alone, since I'm obviously not going to pull a Peggy Olson and get a cat?
Thanks for your help (and the Nation's)!
Joking, obvs. Sometimes I think my own pets and I would be better off apart; you have to do you. And anyway, isn't there a dating site that has a pet section as part of its standard profile questionnaire, along with height and movies you like — something like "cat person" / "dog person" / "other" / "allergic"? Because they should all have it, IMO; it's not as important as the kid thing, but it's up there. Similar taste in TV does not matter one whit, and I say this as a TWoP co-founder, but com-pet-ability is a major deal. One of my many perfect-on-paper dates that didn't go anywhere met its demise because the guy very seriously explained to me his N+1 rule, to wit: pets in a household should only exceed the number of humans, N, by one. I was at N+2 at the time. And it's a fine rule — for him — and I was fine with his sharing it, because I have cats plural, I will always have cats plural, and that's not for everyone, but it ain't changing. So I would look at your profile and think, "Cool, thanks for letting me know. [hide]"
People can get weird about no-pets folk in a way they don't about no-kids folk, though — and while I think you want to make it clear eventually that it's not a "I can't have pets, but totes would if I didn't have allergies" situation so much as a "I can't have pets but wouldn't anyway" kind of deal, I also think you can make that distinction after a date or two. It's possible that "I'm not an animal person" is reading as…not controlling, exactly, but maybe it's putting a little bit of exasperation out there in spite of you, a little rigidity. Like, let's say a "I'd rather not meet at a BBQ place" line in my profile. It's true that I'd rather not, because I can't eat anything there; I'd also rather not meet at a Thai place (hate it) or a strip joint (ten-dollar beers, fuck off), but the issue is that it's getting ahead of things just a bit.
This is always the tension in an online profile: how much information you want to include to weed out complete unsuitables, versus getting ahead of yourself with information that might exclude someone who's actually awesome (see: a guy one year outside my stated age range who is now my husband). You just never know, and if it's that important to you not to have to pretend it's faahhhhne that you're prying a carapace of dog hair off your ass after the second date, again, no judgments here. But maybe you make the first-contact face of it a little cheerier and more regretful: "Thanks to allergies, I can't do furry pets. [frowny face]" Because if a likely lad has a turtle you never have to walk or shoo off your cashmere, that's tolerable, yeah? (I mean, not really — turtles reek — but you know what I'm saying.)
Try softening it just a hair and see how you fare; you can get realer later. Either way: a lot of people have pets, and love them like family, and it's not really anything against you. You're not Cruella. It's just not a good fit.
Tags: boys (and girls) cats