Dating a pet owner?
There are many perks, along with these four not-so-sexy challenges.
At FetchaDate, we believe that the secret sauce to love is a fellow pet lover, but that doesn’t mean that dating while being a pet parent or dating a pet owner doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. Don’t worry, dating with pets comes with a ton of perks too. After all, studies find that pets improve relationships more than non-pet couples.
Owning a pet helps with communication, teamwork, and makes everyone happier! But the harmony of dating and owning a pet doesn’t always come easily. Here are some common challenges of dating with pets.
1. Pets might interfere with your sex life
Pets can make your sex life a little less sexy. Just when things are heating up, a little wet nose or a curious paw reminds you a furry spectator is lurking about. A fourth of pet owners say their pets can flat-out ruin the mood. If you want to maintain a healthy sex life, you’ll have to work together to set boundaries that work for your relationship and your pet.
In my book “Leashes and Lovers,” I interviewed Valerie and Don. When I asked them if their dogs slept in the bed, Valerie explained, “In my bed.”
“They sleep in your bed,” I repeated. “Are you comfortable about that?”
“I was asked about that recently,” Don replied. “And I said it depended on how much room they were going to take up.”
“They don’t look like they’d take up that much room,” I commented. “So, are you okay with it?”
“You never know how much they recline until you actually see them in action,” Don explained, artfully dodging the question.
“What would you do if, say, all of a sudden, the dogs started licking your toes?”
Don chuckled before answering, “That would be okay. Yeah. Sure.”
What if the dog was licking your toes better than she may?” I asked.
“That would be okay, too,” Don answered.
“He’s very open-minded,” I told Valerie. “You found yourself a good one. That or you’ve already trained him that quickly.”
“Yeah,” Valerie agrees, “I found myself a good one. Yeah.”
2. It’s a challenge to be spontaneous with pets
Planning around your pet doesn’t stop at sex. A spur-of-the-moment getaway or dinner that turns into breakfast the next morning sounds sexy and fun; a dog that doesn’t get his nightly or morning walk isn’t. “I need to feed my pet” is a classic excuse to end a bad date for non-pet parents. For us pet parents, it’s all too real of a reason to cut a good date short.
That’s part of why it’s so important to dog lovers in particular that they date other dog lovers. While talking with another pet owner named Frasier, I asked him if he thought his dog, Jessie, was a factor in his being single.
After a thoughtful pause, Frasier answered, “I wouldn’t give Jessie the guilt trip of having been responsible for the breakup of any relationship. She’s simply a dog. If any girlfriend had any strong feelings one way or another, usually a negative feeling about a dog, then we wouldn’t be boyfriend and girlfriend, to begin with. So, no, I can’t claim that Jessie is responsible for my forced bachelorhood.”
That dog lover was rational enough to separate fact from fiction. Or, rather, logic from emotions. While Frasier knew that his love of dogs was a priority, he also knew enough not to start something he couldn’t finish – namely, a relationship with a non-dog lover.
3. You can’t get alone time
We’re all about your WingPet tagging along for dates, but a healthy relationship also thrives on one-on-one time. Between the fun outings with your pet, schedule regular date nights away from Fido and Floofy. Invest in a good pet sitter so you can spend an evening (or weekend) worry-free. Separation anxiety in pets and humans is real, so read up on strategies to cope with time away from your furry BFF.
When I met pet owner Melissa, she told me she feels badly about how she is treating her dog, Jackie, since her new boyfriend’s been sleeping over.
“Jackie was used to sleeping with me every night, but we’ve been locking her in the bathroom at night so we can have privacy and not have her in between us,” Melissa explained. “She whines. [Her boyfriend] can block it out, but I hear her.”
“Do you feel guilty about that?” I asked, sensing that she might. “She used to sleep with you, and now you’re putting her in the bathroom.”
Melissa confessed, “It makes me feel guilty and sad because I don’t like her upset. She’s always been the only one, and I need to learn how to make that a priority. But also the other people in my life a priority, too.”
“So why do you do it, then?” I prodded.
Melissa explained, “So we can both have a good night’s rest and have a little privacy.”
“You don’t want her watching?” I asked.
“It’s weird for me,” Melissa admitted. “Just nothing would ever be able to happen. She would be right there and I’d constantly be pushing her away, and that could affect the rest.”
Later, I learned that Melissa and her boyfriend broke up.
4. The division of care
If you’re raising a four-legged ball of love with your two-legged love, then you might know all about the struggles of co-fur parenting. No one wants to be the sole partner that is always emptying the litter box, picking up poo from the backyard, or being the “responsible” one to apply the monthly preventatives. Make room beside “emptying the dishwasher” on your chore chart or calendar to smoothly divide pet-care tasks.
It really helps the future of a couple to be on the same page about the pet and the responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be 50/50 but at least a 65/35 to know you’ll be one happy pack.
I asked another pet owner, Laura, if she had any relationships where her date was not on board with her dog and, if so, was that a bone of contention to not continue to date that person?
“I’ve never broken up over a dog,” said Laura, “but there were guys I’ve dated who were less than enthusiastic.”
Laura says of one such previous relationship, “He didn’t want the dog in his car. I borrowed his car one weekend and did it anyways, and then vacuumed it out.”
“What was his issue about the car and not having a dog in it?” I asked.
“He has blue upholstery, and he’s kind of an orange dog,” Laura explained. “So it’s really obvious. I also left a dog bone in there, so the jig was up.”
“Sounds like you wanted to get caught,” I pointed out. “Sometimes you do things unconsciously in order to sabotage a relationship – get caught, in this case. If he’s that adamant about not having the dog in the car, later on, he doesn’t want him in the bed. He doesn’t want him on the couch. He doesn’t want the dog.”
She thought about that before admitting, “I can see where that would be a problem. He didn’t like the dog in the bed, either. [According to him], the dog needed to be in the dog’s place, and it was not a part of the bedroom scene or cars.”
“A dog would not have been a part of the family,” I added.
“Yeah, it was almost like [the dog] was less a part of the family, kind of a bummer,” Laura responded. “I think I was just waiting for that whole relationship to go away so I could invite my dog back to sleep with me and hang out on the couch and be in my car, stuff like that.”
When Pets Come Between You
When it comes to fighting over a pet, psychologist Dr. Joel Gavriele-Gold says it’s normal for a pet peeve here and there to come up. But if the bickering becomes more common than not, there might be something else going on.
“You need to ask yourself, ‘What would happen if the pet weren’t here?'” Gavriele-Gold told ABC News. “What would you be arguing about? That can help you get at the real issue and start working on it, and Fido can go back to being just Fido.”
If your pet has always slept with you and that makes you happy, be happy about it. If you make a big deal about being intimate in front of your pet, chances are you won’t be comfortable. Do what it takes to be happy.
Keep the dog in; leave the dog out. It’s your personal decision. Your pet is likely to get over it before you do. Just like pet training, repetition is key. If you’re having trouble being happy, let your pet be your guide; it’ll show you the way!