Perusing online dating profiles over early morning coffee (code for procrastinating terribly about heading into the office) it struck me that THE ONLINE DATING INDUSTRY HAS IT ALL WRONG.
Depending on the online dating site you choose, there are plenty of criteria designed to help you
cull at will find your true perfect match. Age, location, height, and important things such as children. But they are missing a fundamental little clicky box.
Sounds innocuous enough but potentially every bit as difficult to manoeuvre in a relationship as distance, an only child who has been treated like a princess, or a non-mutual penchant for death metal music.
But they don’t make you spell it out.
There could be any number of reasons for this but the one that I particularly favour given my general leaning to any kind of conspiracy theory is this:
Online dating sites are secretly controlled by a single god-like architect who bans this selection criteria on ALL sites. This is so that cat-lovers and non-cat-lovers will mistakenly unite, spend time realizing they have a fundamental incompatibility, break up, then return to online dating. Sounds counter-productive to the intent of creating success stories, but with 37 million cat-owning households in the US alone, AWESOME for transaction volume and return member stats.
Of course there is criteria about children. Everyone understands that it’s important to be aligned on the matter of children – current and intended. There are blogs, self-help books, studies, counsellors and terribly earnest literature on how to prepare yourself to be a step-parent, particularly if you have no children of your own. The Brady Bunch gave us education by stealth from the time we were old enough to watch TV. My learnings from that? Keep the gender demographic completely equal and get a fabulous housekeeper.
But onto cats. Not to say that cat people and non-cat people can’t make it work. But going into a relationship without an understanding of these creatures is about as sensible as venturing outside the space station without a spacesuit. Its going to be cold, inhospitable and a universe that you don’t understand. So here’s the spacesuit for the non cat people, based on the instructions that I provide to anyone who is going to occupy my household for any period of time.
One – the cat will never distinguish between you and any other stranger.
You may think because of our special relationship that the cat will simply love you as I do, given a little time. No. That would be a dog.
Even my dearest lifelong friends have failed to grasp this and more than once have called for help from upstairs after being barricaded by the cat in the spare room.
Two – the cat owns the house and you are just a barely-tolerated intruder.
As am I. The difference is that I already understand this and will adhere to rules about giving way in intersections of hallway/doorways in order to minimize blood loss and ankle scarring.
If you are on the stairs, please understand that she will either run at you or weave between your legs with the aim of making you fall to your death. Its not personal.
Three – the cat owns you.
Over a cat lifetime she has developed a range of strategies to demonstrate that she is in charge. She will stand at the cat bowl and give you one of either a zombie death stare or the air of a starving refugee in order to have you feed her. She will then sniff and walk away without eating just to show you she was only doing it to prove a point.
She will bleat at the back door to be let out, wait till you sit down and then command you to get up and let her back in. Despite how often you do this, point one still applies.
Four – there will be some personality quirks
In the case of my feline you will need to accept the following:
- Don’t laugh at her when she so deliberately walks AROUND the shag rug in the lounge room. When the rug was first acquired she walked on it with over-long toenails, had a Velcro-like experience and was emotionally scarred. She has never recovered.
- She has night terrors, presumably post-traumatic-stress-response from a prior life (or the rug experience) that are only soothed by my calling out to her, and occasionally warranting me walking in to check on her in the night. If you ever think that it might earn you brownie points to be the one who gets up to check on her, wear slippers; a further quirk is a bit of a hairball-control issue and its an immutable law that there will be a hairy clump of vomit if you do patrol barefoot. Note: no matter how many patrols you do, point one still applies.
- She likes the Home Hardware ads with the two cartoon dogs. I know that she is secretly sneering at them. Don’t change the channel if this ad is on.
- There will be a stare-off/war over the fact that she needs to sit on your Sunday newspaper while you are trying to read it over breakfast. Grow up. There are enough sections in the Sunday paper for all of us, she’ll let you know which are hers.
If you can grasp these points you are well on your way to some level of compatibility with a cat owner. Share the knowledge around a bit and collectively we can kick that dating site design-guru to the kerb and get the cat criteria on the online dating websites – preferably with a link to my as-yet-only-conceptual, awesome, yet freakishly inexpensive e-book.