This past weekend, I planned to adopt a dog. This was a huge step for me since, as a young girl, I was bitten by my neighbor’s dog (and still have a scar to prove it). So, after reading and taking notes on “Dogs for Dummies” and spending several months petting dogs to get comfortable, I was ready to bite the bullet and invite a pet into my life. I searched the list and fell in love with little Bashful’s pictures. She was just so darn cute! I read her bio, and she seemed to have everything I was looking for – the right age, the right size, and a nice coat of brown fur.
On Sunday morning, I went to the adoption event, pages of notes in hand so I would know what to buy at the puppy store once little Bashful was mine. When I got there, she was just as cute as her photos… maybe even more so. And she was sweet, walking right up to me and sitting in my lap. What more could I want?
So, I was told to buy a collar while they got the paperwork ready. I opted to sit with her for another few minutes instead, saying things like, “I’m going to be your puppy mommy.” (Yes – I’m a total sap.) As the forms were coming my way, and I was really starting to bond with my new friend, a supervisor came over to me and said (while Bashful was still in my lap, mind you), “So, we decided that we’re not going to let you adopt this dog. She can only go to a home with other dogs. And by the way, she can’t live in the city, either.” Had any of that that been in her bio? No. Had they told me that before I started to get excited and bond with her? No. Would I have even chosen her had I known this was the case? Of course not. So I left, feeling sad that I was not getting the new best friend I wanted and deceived that something so important (a deal breaker, if you will) had not been stated upfront.
As I walked away, I thought to myself that the situation sounded oddly similar to online dating. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where a profile says exactly what we want it to say. We meet our date and everything seems to be going fine until…
BAM! – Your date tells you he doesn’t want children.
BAM! – She’s really just separated and not divorced… and still living with her ex!
BAM! – She has five kids but she only listed two.
BAM! – He said he’s not very religious and has no dietary restrictions, but when I ordered a pepperoni pizza, he almost disowned me.
In online dating, it’s so important that your deal breakers are out there front and center. If you don’t want children, that’s fine! Just make sure you check that box off in your profile. If you’re extremely religious (or not at all), that’s ok, too! Don’t underplay that simply to get more dates. The last thing you want is for someone to go out with you only to be disappointed because you didn’t disclose something really important in your profile. So don’t be bashful. Be true to yourself. You may go on fewer dates, but your dates will want you for the real you rather than for the person who is trying to appeal to everyone simply by not sharing the truth.
And this goes for searching, too. As hard as it may be, try not to fall in love with someone’s pictures and profile (merely words on a page) before meeting in person. I know I’ll keep that in mind when it comes to any future pets, too. I want a dog who loves me for me – living in an apartment in downtown DC, having no other pets (besides Sir Quackers, my childhood stuffed duck), and just wanting to show him/her love and affection.
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.