As a past navigator of app-based dating, I can recall sitting down to craft my profile. I had to include a travel pic - one that made my life look cooler than it was. A shot of me holding a fancy cocktail, somewhat of a personality pic you could say. A selfie of me and my closest friends. And of course, a matching photo of me and my precious American Bully, posing in the mirror.
Although I didn’t know the data at that time, it felt wrong to leave such a key part of my life, my dog daughter, out of a bio meant to summarize my essence.
In the years since, the inclusion of pets in dating profiles has evolved beyond a mere trend; it's a reflection of our culture's growing affection for animals. In an era where authenticity is prized, a pet photo can say a thousand words about your lifestyle and values.
This isn't just about showing off a cute animal; it's a window into your world. Pets in profiles can signal you're caring, responsible, and capable of deep emotional connections – traits highly valued in the dating game.
However, it's essential to remember that not every swipe right is for the right reasons. While pets can attract fellow animal lovers, they could also be harnessed for “evil” aka solely used to get more dates. Is the sweet Frenchie in that pic his? Or did he borrow them for the shot?
Either way, if you’re a proud pet parent looking for love, you may want to consider sneaking in a photo or two of your soulful sidekick. Whether they bark or meow, studies show they’ll likely score you some swipes.
The science behind pet photos on dating profiles
In a competitive and oft-frustrating dating scene, how do pet parents weed through dozens of potentials to find their match? Well, if you want to appeal to a fellow pet parent, research in the realm of online dating provides intriguing insights into why profiles with pet photos often receive more attention.
The power of pets in profiles: Key findings from a 2023 study by Guide Dogs showed that two-thirds of 1,000 participants were more likely to match with someone who includes a dog in their profile picture.
More swipe rights: According to EliteDaily, “On average, women saw an increase of 69% more matches when they included a dog in one or more of their pictures, while men saw an increase of 38% more matches”. The research is clear; pets are a great ice-breaker to keep those matches coming.
Psychological appeal: The presence of a pet in profile pictures can make the individual appear more approachable and relatable. Again, it's not just about the cuteness of the pet; it’s about what owning a pet signifies – responsibility, care, and capability of nurturing a relationship. Indeed, Guide Dog’s study confirmed that people perceive dog owners as more active, social, empathetic, and likely to settle down – traits seen as attractive in potential dates. And it’s not just speculation. In another piece, psychologist and professor Maryanne Fisher found that “Eight in every 10 men who were looking for a serious relationship had a dog photo on their dating profile.”
Cultural shifts influencing perceptions: The growing societal love for pets and the humanization of our soulful sidekicks have also contributed to this trend. As pets become more integral to our lives, their presence in our dating profiles becomes a reflection of our lifestyle and values.
These studies highlight the evolving dynamics of dating in a pet-loving society and underline the appeal of pet owners in the digital dating landscape.
Cons to consider
While there are clear benefits to including your pet in your dating profile, there are also potential drawbacks. Believe it or not, there’s a chance you may alienate potential matches who might be allergic or less enthusiastic about animals. It's important to consider these factors and decide what's most important to you in a partner.
Another aspect to consider is the message your pet's presence sends. For some, it might imply a high level of commitment or a lifestyle centered around pet care, which could be intimidating or unappealing. So, it may be a good idea to craft your profile in a way that balances your love for your pet with other aspects of your personality and life, ensuring a well-rounded portrayal of who you are.
The way we see it, this is a perfect way to filter the right people out. Do you want a partner who simply tolerates your dog or cat? Or someone who celebrates pet parenthood, doesn’t cringe when you plan a party for your copilot’s gotcha day, or maybe even has a dog or cat of their own! If your pet is a big part of your life (as we assume they are), show them loud and proud.
Do actions speak louder than photos?
In the digital age, where a swipe can lead to love or a miss, your dating profile is a canvas for your personality, and often, your pet. But here's a twist: not everyone who flaunts a furry friend is a genuine animal lover. Apparently, “dogfishing”, or borrowing a pet that’s not yours for dating app pics, is a growing concern for pet parents seeking the same on apps.
It raises a question – are some using their pets as a ploy to attract matches, rather than out of true affection? How do you discern genuine pet lovers from those just playing the ‘pet card’ for likes?
Consistency is key: Look for consistency in how they portray their pet involvement both online and in conversation. Does their interest seem genuine, or just a way to garner attention?
Observing behavior: If you meet, observe how they interact with pets – theirs or others. Do they show real care and understanding, or is it just for show?
Listening to stories: Pay attention to the stories they share about their pets. Are they about companionship and care, or more superficial?
Red flags to watch out for
Mismatched actions: If there's a discrepancy between their online portrayal and their real-life actions, it could be a red flag.
Lack of deep engagement: If their engagement with pets seems shallow or infrequent, it might indicate that their interest is more about image than genuine love.
In the digital dating world, it’s important to be discerning, especially when pets are involved. Authentic connections should be based on shared values and genuine interests, not just a cute pet photo.
Look for signs of true pet affinity and consider how deeply a potential match resonates with your love for animals.
Navigating the pet debate in dating
Introducing your pet to potential dates can be a telling experience. It's often said that pets are great judges of character, and their reactions to new people can provide valuable insights. Plan for a low-key, stress-free introduction where your pet can comfortably interact with your date in a familiar environment.
Observe how your date approaches and interacts with your pet – it can reveal a lot about their personality and how they might fit into your life.
If your pet is usually friendly but seems wary around your date, don't dismiss it immediately. Animals can be intuitive, and it's worth considering their reactions. However, also be aware that pets can need time to warm up to new people.
It's a delicate balance of trusting your pet's instincts and giving your date a fair chance to build a rapport with your soulful sidekick.
Read more: Can Your Pet Affect Your Sex Life?
Pet lover seeking same
Incorporating your pet into your dating profile is a personal choice with both benefits and considerations. It's about more than just showcasing a cute animal; it's a reflection of your lifestyle, values, and the kind of relationship you're looking for.
Whether or not to include your pet ultimately depends on what you feel is most authentic and representative of you. Remember, the right match will appreciate both you and your pet for the unique bond you share.
As for me, the pet pic worked. I swiped on someone who similarly hinted at her dog’s importance in her life. It led to meeting my current partner, a fellow reactive pup parent. Science rules!
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.