They say when a man gets to a certain age, he can no longer afford to be fussy when it comes to dating women. Not me. It could be my last day on this planet and I’ll still be finding fault in any woman showing an interest in me. Underwear, finger nails, feet – the little toe in particular – the kind of coffee she drinks, whether she pulls any faces when she’s texting, how she pronounces “guacamole”, skin tags, warts, a mole’s potential to become something more serious, I’ll analyse everything. And then I’ll re-analyse it. One thing I’m absolutely sure about straight away is that even if they were loaded, I wouldn’t date a woman with a dog.
There’s this romantic picture painted of people walking their dogs. Man spends time with their best friend, at the start of a long day that offers new possibilities, or de-stresses at the end of a long day by taking a long walk with their dog. I’m even prepared to accept some dogs could be construed as cute if you can separate them in your mind from the ridiculous shed loads of hair many of them leave all over the place. But few actually take the trouble to analyse what happens on the walk itself. When you do, that’s when you realise that walking the dog together could kill any new relationship, because “walking the dog” doesn’t really cover what’s actually unfolding. In fact, as far as euphemisms go, it takes some beating.
In a new relationship, walking the dog is going to test and even change that relationship earlier than it needs to alter. You’re not yet comfortable with one another but you’re essentially taking the dog out to foul the pavement. It’s an ugly image so early on in a relationship, and not every liaison’s going to be strong enough to handle that. Of the ones that can survive that, you have to wonder what other horrors do those couples have to unveil to one another if they can so easily dismiss the unpleasant aspects of the dog walk as no big deal?
You’re not yet comfortable with one another but you’re essentially taking the dog out to foul the pavement. It’s an ugly image so early on in a relationship
I wouldn’t want to be joining a girl on her dog walk in the first six months of a new relationship. I want that period of grace where new partners pretend they don’t go to the toilet; where prior to your first night in a hotel together, you maybe disappear for twenty minutes at the restaurant, determined to not have to use the loo at what is certain to be a long night at the hotel where the emphasis and focus has to be on putting in a good first bedroom performance. On your return to your table, neither of you mention how long you’ve been gone, even though in the time you were away, she’s ordered and finished her dessert. You don’t even allude to your disappearance in a lighthearted manner. This person you’re hoping to bed is new. For now, you pretend you’re from the future, or from some far away world where people don’t need to use the lavatory.
Any saucy underwear I might see a new girlfriend in during that honeymoon period would, for me, be totally undermined by the image of her dog doing what it does in the street. That’s too ugly a visual not to rock a new relationship. Those first six months need to be about seeing one another’s bits, and putting each other through a period of orgasms that realistically, cannot be sustained beyond the first year. That early period is about laying down a marker, showing you’re better in the bedroom than her previous lover, and good enough for her to discount the possibility of still going with the guy in accounts with whom she’d flirted in the dark days that followed her last break up.
I’d feel like if I was round hers visiting and she was getting that blasted dog ready for its walk, I’d have no option but to offer to escort her. She’s hardly going to consider me a gentleman if I let her walk the dog on her own, especially on a dark winter’s night. She’d be thinking, “What kind of man lets me go out after dark on my own?” And even if we’d started dating in the summer months, I’d still feel I had to join her. She might not yet be comfortable having me being in her house on my own for fear I might start snooping around while she’s gone.
If I was to let her walk the dog on her own and something happened to her out on that walk, the relationship, bizarrely, might actually stand a better chance of running for longer even though by then, tired of getting my clothes covered in dog hair, I’d have been looking to end things. I’d know I couldn’t just leave her whilst her confidence was shattered and her assailant was still out there.
It might be she sees the possibility of using the dog’s fouling as a way of us getting comfortable with our own bathroom habits
I can imagine as I tried desperately to find a way out, her family and friends would hold me responsible for what happened to her. They wouldn’t give me the opportunity to make what I think are valid, carefully thought out points about the negative impact a dog walk can have on a new relationship. All that stuff about how the first six months of any new relationship are all about laying down a marker, and how any saucy underwear she’d worn for me would be damaged by the image of the dog crouching over the pavement. Even if we managed to come through such a setback so early on in our time together, her family and friends would always suspect she’d ended up with someone incapable of protecting her. That would just pile a whole load of pressure on me, leaving me with no option but to join her on the dog walk.
But where does that leave me when her dog does what it does? It might be she sees the possibility of using the dog’s fouling as a way of us getting comfortable with our own bathroom habits, but I don’t really want us doing that through an animal.
The whole thing is a potential minefield. If after the dog does what it does, she doesn’t bag it up and just walks away from this thing like it’s nothing to do with her, I get an early and potentially ruinous insight into her character. I’m not sure I’d want this woman to be the mother of my kids. As the kids were getting older, I’d be looking to their mother for guidance as to when was a good time to tell our children that in 2010, I’d decided to live in a hotel for nearly half the year and went nuts, but then I’d be thinking, should I really be advised on anything by a woman who can just ruthlessly walk away from a dog stool her dog was responsible for?
If on the other hand, she’s the kind of responsible dog owner that does bag up after their dog, that presents a whole heap of new problems. How far would we be walking with this thing? Do we make small talk while we walk with the bag? What kind of small talk covers a moment such as that? Ideally, I don’t want to be having that kind of conversation with someone I fancy, certainly not in the new phase of a relationship.
The whole thing is a potential minefield. If after the dog does what it does, she doesn’t bag it up and just walks away from this thing like it’s nothing to do with her, I get an early and potentially ruinous insight into her character
Meantime, does this bag go in any bin, or is there a specific bin for the bag? And where are these bins? Does she have enough about her to revise the walk if she knows I’m coming out with her so that any actual dog fouling doesn’t leave us with too long a walk to the nearest bin?
If she failed to rework the walk, and showed utter disregard for tossing the bag into the right bin, instead casually lobbing it into a normal bin, I’m not sure where that would leave the relationship. There are just too many opportunities here to see something I really have no desire to see.
Just moments after dispensing with the bag, it might be she suddenly tells me she’s on heat and plans on jumping me soon as we get back to her place. I wouldn’t be feeling particularly sexy after what I’d just witnessed, and would probably just want to get back to my own place so I could get rid of all the dog hair from my clothes. Most of all, the thought that just moments after she’d bagged up the stool, she could be manipulating my genitalia with the same hand, filled me with horror.
If the relationship was further down the line, I could chip in at that point with a tongue in cheek, “Just make sure you wash your hands after handling that bag”, and she’d come back with a, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mr Anal”, also keeping it light.
But a new relationship leaves you a long way and many difficult awkward nights away from that. The best I could hope for would be that as we return to the house, I remove my shoes – a quality she was too wrapped up in the dog to acknowledge – while she walks on into the kitchen with the dog. I’d move into the front room, give her a few moments to take the dog off the lead, fetch it some water and food, and convince myself that in those moments before she returns to me determined to ravish me, she’d washed her hands and that I just can’t be sure I heard the taps running because I don’t yet know her place well enough.
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