Why the "partners with pets" online dating trend might be ruining human-to-human relationships.
Just when you thought the online dating world couldn't get more challenging, a new trend has entered the dating fields that warrants some much needed online dating advice. Love seekers of all ages have decided that their current better half, their dog (or other beloved pet), should become part screening their future better half. They declare unabashedly in their online profiles that all prospective mate "must love dogs". The heads-up is kind of nice I suppose. At least you’re being warned that a potential date has non-flexible priorities. But how is prioritizing your pet over human companionship really working out for people in online dating?
Three Makes A Crowd: Julia, Andrew and "Isabella"
Julia was excited to meet Andrew, who specified in his profile that any possible match "must love dogs". Julia had never actually owned a dog of her own. But she was open to this dog lover, because she did at least like dogs. She recalls, "I should have clued in earlier that this dog was taking up way too much of Andrew's life. The first date felt like an interview. The question he was trying to answer was whether I was worthy of meeting Isabella, his French bulldog, not whether I was a good dating possibility for him personally."
A bit perplexed but still naïve about obsessed dog owners, Julia decided to go on several additional dates with Andrew, and was glad she did (at first). She and Andrew had a lot in common, and the chemistry between them was sizzling.
That is until "Isabella" entered the scene—or, more accurately, until Julia tried to enter the life of Andrew + "Isabella".
"The first time Andrew made dinner," Julia says, "the pieces of the puzzle started fitting together quickly. He spent more time having a conversation with the dog than with me." Julia noticed that the Andrew and "Isabella" were more of a couple that evening than she and Andrew. The dog barked/talked back and knew how to get Andrew to give her food. There was a dynamic between them that didn't allow room for Julia, or anyone else. Short of having a placemat at the table, "Isabella" dominated the scene on that dinner date.
Their Dog Is Never Just A Dog
Julia tried to blow off the dinner incident and made plans to for a movie night at Andrew's, during which "Isabella" curled up on the couch between Julia and Andrew and ate straight out of their popcorn bowl. Andrew thought it was hilarious. "Give it time," Julia thought. "It's just a dog." (But of course, we loyal dog owners are laughing at this point because we know our dog is not "just a dog".)
After the movie incident came the sex incident. "Isabella" (used to being the only other 'companion' in Andrew's bedroom) howled outside the locked bedroom door or, if allowed in the room, insisted on being on the bed with them. Andrew became stressed that "Isabella" was not coping well. He refused to leave her home alone to spend nights at Julia's. Julia made the mistake of hinting that it was either their relationship or the dog. That did it. She never heard from Andrew again. Truth be told, she was relieved.
What To Do If You Meet A Pet-Obsessed Love Interest
How can you avoid Julia's awkward brush with the pet-obsessed? Watch for the signs that Julia saw but ignored: Incessant talking about the dog. Constant attention paid to the dog (that excludes you). An activity schedule for the dog that leaves no room for you. If your potential date uses a dog-sitting service, however, that's a good sign. It means weekends away, trips and time alone, with the dog left behind.
When it becomes obvious that your pet lover is not ready for a human lover, accept the truth that you will always be the odd duck out and be willing to walk away. Dog lover yourself or not, you will always be unhappy playing second fiddle to his four-legged first love. Dog owners who want a committed relationship must create healthy boundaries with their pet and have dog-sitting arranged for much-needed time alone with their human love interest.
How To Create Balance When Dating A Dog Owner
So, is a devoted dog-owner nothing but trouble in the romance department? Not at all. Loving your pet is great. Having no life outside your pet is not. Dog-owners bring lots of great traits to the table as romantic partners. Quite often you can truly trust them. They know what it's like to have "someone" in their life who relies on them, and they welcome that responsibility with caring. They also are willing to invest time in their relationships recognizing the other half has needs that must be met.
Whatever your experience with dogs in the past, dating a dog owner should go pretty smoothly. Express your natural curiosity about what the dog means to your potential date. Ask questions about the dog. Show interest. And listen carefully to what is and is not being said in response. Not only will this reveal a lot about the person you're interested in, but you too will look like the worthy, caring potential partner that you are.
How can you thrive in a relationship with a dog owner? Be yourself! Dogs respond well to authentic individuals, whether alpha or beta. They will respect you if all you want is to be authentically happy with their owner.
Monica Magnetti is a Life/Business Coach, Small Business Brand Consultant and proud YourTango Expert. Open up to a bigger consciousness, break free of your limitations, get what you want! Download for free Monica’s acclaimed book, 30 DAYS TO A NEW YOU, and enjoy the new you.