Believe it or not, the weather will start to warm up soon(ish), we will all emerge from our post-holidays winter I-hate-the-world haze, and you just might start to thinking about dating again.
I'm all about easing into these things--spring AND starting to date--and if there's one thing I know it's that having a dog can make both infinitely easier. Why? Because your dog probably has spring fever too, and will be dragging you outside whether you plan to go out or not, which is always a great motivator.
As for dating, nobody makes a better wingman/wingwoman than a dog. And when it comes to dating, do you know where the best place is to let you dog do all the heavy lifting? The dog park! (Assuming you got custody of the pooch, of course.)
There are a few reasons for this. Because you have the dog to keep you company, it's really difficult (though not impossible, trust me) to look like a pathetic loser at the dog park. If you're looking to potentially go out on a date with someone, a dog park is a good place to find someone appropriate, if you're a dog owner yourself. I mean, you'll know right away that they like dogs, and for some people this is literally the biggest deal-breaker when dating someone new.
Also, it's a seriously low-pressure environment for socializing and flirtation in general--if things get weird, just focus on the dogs. In fact, there's a whole dog park-flirting language that, for those in the know, is better than Tinder for picking up new partners. This is because the whole human-dog dynamic is absolutely RICH with subtext.
To help you out, I've broken the major Dog Park Flirting tactics down into a few simple lines. These are good to know from the perspective of both the Flirter and the Flirtee--even if you're not down for the flirting, you really need to know what you're walking into when you walk into a dog park.
Just keep in mind that dog parks are sort of like gyms, in that you tend to run into the same people over and over again ... so if things go badly, you might have to find a new dog park. Just saying.
BEST DOG PARK LINES:
"What an exotic breed! Your dog is gorgeous."
Subtext: You are exotic and gorgeous.
"Hey, our dogs like each other!"
Subtext: I bet we would also like each other.
"Want to play Frisbee with us?"
Subtext: Say yes, and this becomes our first almost-date.
"Do you mind if I Instagram your dog? He's so cute!"
Subtext: I'm about to ask you for your Instagram handle so I can tag you, launching a relationship of some kind.
"Wow, your dog is so well-trained."
Subtext: I could be that well-trained. Train me.
"You know, she really likes you--she doesn't jump on everyone like that."
Subtext: My dog and I are high maintenance and come on a little strong, but we're good people.
"I have no idea which of these tennis balls is mine and which is yours..."
Subtext: It doesn't matter, we're going to be sharing everything soon.
"Oh no, my dog just got mud all over you--here's my number, let me pay your dry cleaning bill."
Subtext: Here's my number, let me take you to dinner.
"Oh, hey, did you lose your ball? Have one of mine."
Subtext: I've got balls to spare.
"They really get along--I hope we run into you two again!"
Subtext: Let's schedule an extracurricular play date.
"She's a rescue dog. It took a long time to get her to trust humans, but she's doing great now."
Subtext: I am marriage material. I will make an amazing parent.
And, my favorite: When the object-of-your-flirtation approaches you and says "Oh my God! SO CUTE!" you say "Thanks! I work out. I try to eat right. Oh...wait...you meant the dog. Sorry. Yeah. He's okay I guess." It's like Colt 45. Works every time.
So there it is! You're now a Dog Park Flirting expert. Use or refuse at your own risk.
For more tips and strategies for being a divorced person or just a regular person, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram--or, if you're really dangerous, all three.
Just one last thing though: make sure everyone is dewormed and up to date on shots before you go romping further afield.
James J. Sexton