To share or not to share. Not everyone wants to hear about your pets. At least not right away.
“Oh no, you’re not one of those, are you?!”
We all know the phrase “crazy cat lady,” conjuring images of bathrobed bitties sprinkling cat chow into bowls as hordes of filthy yowling tabbies descend. And we hear more and more of “crazy cat guys” too. But there’s not much talk of crazy dog ladies or crazy dog guys. It’s not associated with a red flag on a first date—or so we think. But I have learned the hard way —too much dog talk can send a date running for the door. So it’s time for all us cat-maniacs and dogophiles to admit we’re not as different as we thought, and that, when it comes to dating, we all need the same specific tools for survival.
1. Last as long as you can without mentioning your beloveds.
Don’t deny; just avoid the subject. Even do your best to keep your astounding animals off your mind. To help, before the date, think up ten other subjects you can discuss: a funny thing that happened at work, movies and TV shows, your favorite singer, sports … hey go ahead and discuss politics, sex, and religion if you need to, but just hold off on bringing up your menagerie!
2. Show your morality, not your obsession.
If your date asks about animals, just say “Oh yes, I love them.” Speak about endangered species, makeup tests in rabbits’ eyes, the horrors of organized dogfighting and “Is that really true about the strings on tennis racquets?!” Or if it’s more your style, tell an exciting story about your big-game hunter exploits, or how you rid your neighborhood of rats. Just keep it about you, and not about who’s stretched out on your couch or pillowcases.
3. Turn the subject back onto them.
If they ask specifically about pets, throw out “Yes I do have a pet. Have you ever had one?” Or, “Yes, now that you mention it, my building allows animals. It’s so fun to see all my neighbors walking their dogs in the morning. What about where you live?” Maybe even talk about that special companion you had as a child (always a good heart-warmer), but don’t let them see the truth about you today … just yet.
4. Don’t be partisan.
There’s no bigger anti-cat snob than a dog owner, and vice-versa. How unfair! Even though you knew the second they mentioned their pussycat that your dog would never put up with those in the house, just take a deep breath, and let in the good news: Now you know you are both animal lovers—a beautiful thing to have in common. Plus, one reason dogs and cats are such great pets is that they’re so adaptable; so even if they aren’t thrilled with the idea, they’ll eventually tolerate new annoying roommates if it means keeping you in their lives. Plus, just think of the romantic and sexy changes this new energy can bring into your life: cat people can experience the all-consuming, chaotic love of dog-lovers; and dog people can embrace the considered, independent, unconventionality of those whose tastes veer to the feline.
5. When the jig is up, just give in.
If your date really presses you, and you can’t get out of the subject, then you simply have spill the beans and find out how they feel about your pets. But when you do, you’d better brace yourself because one of two things is likely to happen:
- They say they don’t like those animals around, so you have to accept that, however charming, beautiful, and smokin’ hot they are, this isn’t going to work as a romance.
- If they effusively erupt with “Oh I love them! I have three already!” then fall on your knees and propose right then—you’ve found the perfect mate and, as the old theme song sang, “This group must somehow form a family.” And accept that now you’ll have to start dealing with all the potential flaws this heaven-sent mate has so far hidden—far more successfully than you have yours!
One added note: While I was writing this article, I met a couple. The wife had grown up with big dogs, and the husband had always had a few cats. They fell in love and married, without once discussing pets. Once the conversation began, she didn’t want cats, and their small condo couldn’t handle a big dog even if he wanted one. So they compromised.
Today they have six Chihuahua mixes, the joys of their lives. Down from the nine they used to have.
So, in dating, first look for someone who can love, and whom you can love. Love will likely work out the rest—in ways neither of you could have foreseen.
Photo: Getty Images