Maybe Fido has a habit of chewing everything he can get his furry paws on, or Fifi leaves cat hair all over the house, or Myrtle the turtle just plain the relationship forward and build a life together, your vision of domestic bliss doesn’t include another person’s furry (or scaly) friends. Alisa Bowman, relationship expert and author of , says that disagreements over pets come up more often than many people realize.
“In addition to spending time with a pet, it becomes part of your life, unlike a hobby,” she explains.
ou’ve finally found someone who’s smart, attractive and appreciates your quirks.
The only trouble is, you can’t stand his or her pet. A 2010 poll conducted by the Associated Press and asked 1,500 people which one they’d choose if they were forced to pick between their significant other and their pet; 14 percent of respondents prioritized pets above their partners.
“Voice it as a problem and say, ‘Can you help me find the solution? Instead of letting her cat allergy ruin a budding romance, Erin O’Harra, 25, of San Francisco, CA moved in with her boyfriend and his silver tabby cat, Cap, after the boyfriend agreed to keep Cap’s bed and litter box in his attached garage.
Now, Cap has the run of the house (except for the couple’s bedroom) during the day and stays in the garage at night.
“He offered to send the cat to live with a relative, but I know how much he loves her — and I didn’t think it was fair to make him choose between us,” she says, adding that they “started discussing how to make the living situation work for all three of us before we even started looking for a new place.” Just as couples fight over who does the dishes or leaves dirty socks on the floor, couples with pets sometimes argue over who should walk the dog or clean out the aquarium.
When Rich Redman, 46, of Kent, WA was engaged to his now-wife of 13 years, Joanna, the pair quarreled after she brought home a pair of sugar gliders (marsupials native to Australia).
If you’re really uncomfortable with animals (or even allergic), you may be tempted to stay mum at first and see how the relationship progresses.
“Back then, she didn’t think about our shared responsibility,” he recalls.
Bowman adds that, in addition to causing feelings of jealousy over the time and attention lavished on a pet, it can also prove to be problematic when one person has a large animal that makes the other person feel unsafe.
However, it is possible for a reluctant animal person to make peace with a partner’s pet, regardless of whether it’s included as part of the initial dating package or comes up later on.
Unfortunately, that can complicate things later when you’re emotionally invested but haven’t yet considered the logistics of building a future together.“Don’t let it drag on,” urges Kiai Kim, coauthor of the cheekily titled about moving in together if you have trouble with someone’s pet.” Bowman suggests framing things as a chance for you to problem-solve together rather than an opportunity for you to vent.