This past weekend, I went to adopt a dog. This was a big step for me since, as a young girl, I was bitten by my neighbor’s dog (and still have the scar to prove it). So, after months of petting dogs to get comfortable and reading “Dogs for Dummies” so I would have somewhat of a clue after the pup joined the Ettin clan, I was ready to bite the bullet and adopt a pooch. 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 size, a good age, and that nice, brown, low-shedding fur that I like.

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, saying things like, “I’m gonna be your puppy mommy.” (It’s true – 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 related to online dating. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where a profile says exactly what we want it to. 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.

BAM! – She has four kids, but she only listed one.

BAM! – He said he’s not practicing, but he practically tuned out of the rest of the date when I ordered shrimp tempura.

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, that’s fine, too! Don’t underplay that fact 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 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 (just 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 navigate the world of online dating. Her services include: writing unique profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.
  1. Great analogy. I’m sorry you didn’t get the dog. I wish everyone would read this article and take it seriously. Telling the truth should make it easier to find the right person and avoid hurting someone else.

  2. You should have gotten another dog. There are many homeless pets who are dying for a place.

  3. 40 years of sharing my home with Golden Retrievers and I have never seen a good reason to look for my next best friend in a pet store. First, use the AKC and the library to try and narrow the list of breeds more likely to make a good match for you, your home and your lifestyle. Then, look for a respected breeder and/or a friend whose experience might be helpful. And always consider the local humane society. They want to help you and the homeless dogs they shelter. If you would like to “wrestle” with your pet, don’t get a Yorkie (though they can be great fun!). If you’re not into long walks and don’t have access to an off-leash park, don’t get a Golden (though some larger dogs can get along with minimal exercise). Finally, learn the basics of good training, making life better for you and the dog!

  4. My wife and I adopted a really friendly Terrier/Spaniel mix. Best thing we ever did. She died after 12 years of joy, almost 1 year to the day that my wife died. Iris, the dog, was so attached to my wife, she wouldn’t let her out of her sight. They loved each other so very much.

  5. I bought my dog online and he is the best ever! The breeder was in Sydney and sent me photos and I named him straight away. When I picked him up from perth airport he was terrified after the flight, got him home and gave him some food and water, 3 hours later he was playing away on the sofa with his new toys. And the name I chose for him when I saw the photos online is still his name now! Had him 2 years now.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *