Are you a dog person or a cat person? Apparently, you need to choose a side.
I can tell you right now I am not a dog person. That doesn’t mean I don’t like dogs. I do. Dogs are fine. They can be playful and fun. But I don’t like it when dogs jump up and put their paws on me. Or when they have to stick their noses in my crotch or slobber on me. I don’ t like dogs licking me. I definitely don’t like encountering an unleashed dog when I’m out for a run.
And dog owners? They tend to be fine, too. Studies have shown that the dog person is more extroverted than, say, the cat person. Some people claim that dog owners are more conservative than cat owners. Nine of the top 10 dog-owning states voted solidly Republican in the 2012 election, while 9 of the bottom 10 dog-owning states voted for President Obama.
I’ve never owned a dog, but I have enjoyed the company of dogs, at times. I’m a solid cat person. I own two now — or they own me. There’s a saying that people own their dogs, but cats own their people.
My current cats are loving, but I’ve had others who were more remote. I didn’t mind. Cats give what they can give. I think of cats as less needy and desperate for attention than dogs. I think they’re more dignified. They’re definitely less work, if that matters to you. I can leave my cats all day, or a few days. I don’t have to walk them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love them.
Which brings me to the topic of the people person. Whereas being a dog person or cat person may simply be a personal preference, with neither judged as inherently better than the other, being a people person is unquestionably a coveted trait.
No one goes to a job interview and says they’re not a people person. If you’re not a people person that must mean you’re a moody, isolated misanthrope. Of course, that’s far from the truth.
It’s a sensitive topic for me because I’ve been told I’m not a people person. I’m introverted, I don’t mix with others easily or naturally, parties exhaust me, I take a long time to make friends. But I do like people. Some of them I even love and would give my life for.
I do like being with others: conversing, trading stories, teaching and learning — I need this social interaction as much as anyone else. Until I don’t. Because being with people takes so much energy, it can also exhaust me. When I’m done I’m done. When I want to be alone I want to be alone.
That’s a key difference between extroverts and introverts: extroverts are energized by being around others; introverts like being around others, but it requires giving energy rather than being energized, and introverts must at some point retreat to recharge.
So it’s not that I’m not a people person. I am. People are fine. I just don’ t like when they jump on me or push their noses in my crotch or drool on me.