What Pets Can Review About The People You Date

By March 1, 2009Other Writing

Happen magazine, Tuesday, March 2009

How people treat their pets reveals a mother load of info about how they’ll treat you. Here, one avid pet-owner deciphers some of the key signals.

by Rachel Toor

I’ve dated lots of guys: Men with pets and without, men who adored by pets and men who merely put up with them. And what I’ve learned through the years is that how an individual responds to animals tells you a lot about how he’ll relate to you in a romantic relationship. Want some proof? Here are a few common scenarios of how people interact with their furry friends–and what that indicates for their love life.

Your date’s a disciplinarian.

No one should put up with a pet that misbehaves non-stop, but anyone who’s too strict should set off alarm bells. If a person is constantly yelling at a big, clumsy, slobbery dog for being a bit, clumsy, slobbery dog, what could that possibly mean for you the day you rub your date the wrong way? Once, when I walked into one guy’s apartment and was greeted joyfully by his dog Ranger, the moment was ruined when the owner started barking Stop, stop, stop. “Ranger isn’t supposed to make any noise in the house,” he explained as Ranger slunk away. Then he wagged his finger at me–the nerve!–as if I’d started it. That was the end of that.

Pets chow down at the dinner table.

If your dinner conversation is constantly interrupted by Bubba’s big blond head popping up from under the table to get the lion’s share of the appetizers, your date may have some boundary issues. (I also guarantee you’ll be sleeping with fur.) In short, your sweetie may be unable to say no. At first blush, that may sounds nice–drop enough hints about that Valentine’s Day gift you want and it’s yours, right?–but let’s not forget that these people tend to say yes to everyone and everything. Think you’ll get any decent alone-time if your sweetie’s spread so thin?

Your own pet makes them jealous.

Dates who are threatened by the time and attention you spend with an animal will likely be even more jealous of other things in your life-friends, relatives, work. If he’s always trying to horn in on your quality time with kitty, he’s most likely overly needy and just plain not secure enough to be good relationship material. It’s not like you’re hanging out with an ex-boyfriend or working late nights at the office with some hot coworker, it’s a cat–what is he so afraid of?

He baby-talks his pet snake.

You don’t really need me to comment on this, do you?

They use their own pet as a proxy.

If your date says, “Well, I would like to go to the Cape for the weekend but Tiffany, my Rottweiler, hates the beach,” you could have a passive-aggressive type on your hands. By hiding behind the perceived needs and desires of a dog, your date gets to avoid telling you what they want to do (or not do). Sorry, confrontation is a necessary component of every relationship, and you’ll go nuts trying to read their mind all the time.

Their pet is overly accessorized.

Pets with fancy leashes, sweaters, booties indicate that their owner is either rich (no complaints here), or harboring a deep sense of inferiority that they believe can be overcome with just the right studded collar. Trust me, their materialism and obsession with status will eventually get turned on you, too.

They don’t like animals.

Forget about them. That’s clearly an evil person.

But, if you find a guy who makes a joke if your pet pig pees on their Oriental carpet; who brings treats for your pooch and chocolate for you; who can play rough or gentle with them depending on the mood; who is kind and caring and responsible – well, then, send him my way.

Rachel Toor recently moved to Missoula, Montana, and is looking for a cowboy with an extra horse. She is the author of The Pig and I: Why It’s So Easy to Love an Animal, and So Hard to Live with a Man.