Make Your Dating Pet Friendly
What happens when that hot girl hates cats?
There’s an old bumper sticker saying: “love me, love my dog,” and while it’s perhaps not the best line for your OKcupid bio, it expresses a sentiment that many dykes I’ve met (myself included) ascribe to when looking for a date. But what happens when you take the big step of introducing your date to your pets, and much to your horror, your dog (or cat) doesn’t love your lover? Or if your really sweet new fling just isn’t into pets?
My partner and I have been together 10.5 years and share our home with three cats and two dogs, we’re a blended family the youngest cat and dog we adopted together but I brought the oldest dog into our relationship, and my partner brought the two oldest cats. One of the cats, Sierra, hated me when we first started dating! She is very territorial over my partner and believed that all attention needed to be lavished on her. It’s a running joke amongst our friends how possessive Sierra is over my partner, and how even now, after a decade of being a family, although she tolerates me, it’s obvious that she still seems to see me as “the other woman,” and gets very angry whenever my partner travels and she’s left alone with me!
If you’re anything like me, the relationship you have with your pet(s) is one of the most important relationships in your life. New relationship energy is always exciting, but adjusting to combining your life with that new person can be challenging! It’s no different for your pets. Not only do they have to get used to the new lady in your life, they also have to get used to sharing your attention.
No matter how sweet your new date is, if you want your pet to like her, it’s important to do as much as you can to keep your critters’ routines as consistent as possible. Don’t let yourself get too distracted by new relationship energy and make sure to keep your calendar free for your weekly Tuesday tradition of takeout, and Netflix on the couch with your cat, or your long Saturday walks to the dog park. Making sure your furry companions feel like they are still a priority in your life will go a long way in helping them to accept your new sweetie. Otherwise they may end up seeing her as the reason they are sleeping on the couch instead of in your bed!
Having upfront conversations with the new lady in your life about your pets, and their roles in your life can also make it much easier to determine your compatibility right away. I won’t even consider dating people who don’t like dogs. I have a hard time even being friends with people who don’t like dogs, so dating someone who didn’t have an appreciation for dogs would be out of the question. I even (without meaning to) tested my partner’s tolerance for my dog-obsessed antics the first night we met by calling my apartment to talk to my dogs through the answering machine (it was the early ‘00s, people still had home phones) and tell them I would be home a little late.
Unfortunately some human/animal conflicts don’t have easy answers. Some people have allergies to cats, or just can’t get over their fear or dislike of dogs. What do you do if that allergic, dog-hating person happens to be the hottest and sweetest lesbian you’ve ever dated? I see posts about relationship conflicts like this, in online queer message boards on an almost weekly basis and am horrified that all too frequently, the answer people choose is to rehome their pet, just to appease, or make a new lover more comfortable. Adopting an animal is a commitment to building family that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I believe there are ethical reasons, and life circumstances that dictate the need to rehome a pet, but in my opinion, to appease a new lover isn’t one of them.
Assessing your new girlfriend’s feelings about pets, and your pets in particular, can be an important deal breaker for a new relationship. Similarly, the compatibility of both of your pets should always be a key factor if you are considering renting that U-Haul and making the big step of cohabitating. One strategy my partner and I utilized for blending our family when first moving in together, was to have specific rooms of our new house that were “cats only.” We did this to ensure the kitties felt safe and comfortable getting to know their new canine sibling on their terms, and to make sure that everyone had personal space. We have really special relationships with our pets, so for myself at least it’s always felt very natural to take their needs into account when starting a new human relationship!
What about you? Have you ever dated someone who didn’t like your pets? How did you help your critters adjust to a new partner? How have your pets responded to you bringing someone new home?