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What Your Date’s Pet Reveals…

Are you dating a guy with a cat… a woman with a tiny dog? Here, what you can learn from the kind of critter your honey keeps.

By Bob Strauss

here’s an episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza sums up his discomfort with Elaine’s new boyfriend: “Guys with cats… I don’t know.” The fact is, if you’re on the dating scene, your pet speaks volumes about your personality, whether it’s actively jumping onto your potential girlfriend’s lap or just being name-checked during an uncomfortable pause in the conversation. We asked psychotherapist and professional “love and dating coach” Toni Coleman what our pusses, pooches, and other beasties say about our relationship mojo.

A guy with cats
George’s cynicism aside, Coleman has
“Guys with cats are often comfortable being single.”
nothing but good things to say about this unfairly maligned dating archetype. “A man with cats tends to be a more introverted, homebody type. He’s comfortable being single, but that doesn’t mean he’s not desirous of a relationship. At this stage, he’s not feeling a lot of pressure.”

A girl with a teeny-tiny dog
“A woman like this is more likely to be extroverted and on the go. Her dog is like a little companion that doesn’t require a lot of work and can be taken places in her handbag.” (More sedate women, Coleman notes, tend to have larger breeds, because they make better watchdogs.) A word about women with especially yappy purebreds: “If you’re going to pay 900 dollars on a little dog, and all the accessories that go with it, you’re probably being funded by mommy and daddy,” or like to spend freely. As for her dating style, a Paris Hilton wannabe with a mini-pooch is “more high-maintenance, more of a party girl, not looking for a long-term relationship.”

A guy with an enormous mutt
“For guys, dogs are an extension of their ego,” Coleman says. “They’ll say it’s for protection, but it’s really a case of ‘My dog is
“A girl like this is drawn to an animal that is usually kept alone.”
tougher than your dog.’” Although they display their caring side — they have to, since a big dog requires lots of attention — these guys usually aren’t prime relationship material, Coleman says; they are more into the trappings of their guy’s life. What’s more, they may be averse to bringing a child into their living situation. (“Except if he has a golden retriever,” Coleman says. “A real nurturer would have a golden retriever.”)

A gal with a reptile or even a pet tarantula
Think Winona Ryder’s goth girl from Beetlejuice. “A girl like this is drawn to an animal that is usually kept alone. These are not social creatures—they need less interaction, they’re quiet, and they don’t demand a lot from their owners.” As independent and introverted as she is, a tarantula- or snake-owner is “more likely to click with someone she met while pursuing her interests, rather than at a party.” She may be quirky and something of a loner herself, but you may just find her fascinating.

A guy or gal who dislikes pets
If your new love interest actively hates dogs and cats, Coleman has nothing too encouraging to say (unless, of course, you feel the same way): “They might have a hard time adjusting to a family, since kids — like pets — are something you can’t control.” However, Coleman points out that people who are timid and withdrawn around animals because of allergies or because they grew up in a household without pets are fine bets for a relationship: “Some of these people are closet pet-likers,” she notes, and their lack of pets doesn’t at all mean they don’t offer great relationship potential.


Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on About.com, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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