What to Do When Your Partner Hates Your Pet
"Everything was going great. I loved him, he loved me—he was even about to move in with me. There was just one little problem. He hated my dog."
Jill, 35, is a real estate agent from California. She hasn't always had the easiest time meeting men in her area, but when she met Jeremy, everything seemed to fall into place.
"We had so much in common," she said. "We both loved old movies and going for hikes. I literally thought we were meant to be."
But after a couple of months, Jill began to sense that something was wrong. "Every time I asked him to come over, he said he'd rather we spent the evening at his place," she recalled. Jill eventually connected the dots and realized that Jeremy couldn't stand her bulldog, Archie. "Archie is family," Jill said simply. "And he has to come first." Just like that, the relationship ended.
Is it possible to find a compromise when your partner doesn't like your pet? Or is pet-hatred a hurdle simply too big to clear?
Pets lead to more breakups than you'd think
In a 2018 study by dog-walking service Wag!, 86 percent of respondents claimed that they would break up with a partner if they didn't like their pet. And, in a 2019 survey by Pet Life Today, almost 70 percent of respondents said they would rather break up than say goodbye to their pet.
Casey Isaacson knows firsthand how hard it is to stay with someone who dislikes your pet. "My ex wasn't a dog person," she said. Her sister Leigh told her from the very beginning that the relationship couldn't work, and, eventually, Isaacson and her partner indeed went separate ways.
After Isaacson's experience, the sisters went on to create Dig and Tabby, apps designed to match dog people with dog people and cat people with cat people. They quickly met plenty of people who had experienced similar breakups.
Nathan Kehn, a pet influencer and brand manager for Tabby, said, "One of the big reasons my last relationship ended is because my ex didn't want to live with cats. Relationships are hard enough without also having to find someone who loves your pets as much as they love you."
The practical issues
First things first: If your partner doesn't like your pet, you're in for a whole slew of practical problems. Pets take up a lot of time and space. The fact of the matter is, your pet is going to be around a lot of the time and if your partner hates being around them, they're going to have to sacrifice a lot of time with you, too. They may even avoid coming to your home, like Jill experienced.
"Given how much time pet-lovers spend time supporting their pet's needs, let's face it—if you don't want to share some of that time together, how much time is there really left for just you?" Isaacson said.
A sign of incompatibility
Having a partner who hates your pet isn't just a sign of impracticalities to come. It can also be a sign of deeper incompatibility issues.
"How a man responds to my dog provides so much information in terms of how compassionate he is, how he reacts to unexpected circumstances, how easygoing he is, and how he sets his priorities," Isaacson said. "Just knowing a man I am thinking about going out on a date with, and hearing if he has a pet and if he shares stories about the pet, helps me tremendously to know I can trust this guy."
While it's not quite as simple as saying, "If you love my pet, you must be a good guy," chances are, if your partner doesn't like your pet, they may clash with other aspects of your life and your personality, too.
Making relationships work with pets
Sometimes, it is best to simply part ways. However, in some cases, it may be possible to repair a relationship even if a partner doesn't love your furry friend. According to relationship expert Callisto Adams, you and your partner will both need to make a few sacrifices. "One could try to avoid bringing their pets whenever possible, while the other could try to tolerate the pets whenever they're around," she said. "It would take a lot of understanding from both partners."
Ultimately, you may have to accept the fact that your dating pool is a little smaller with a pet. "For a lot of people, having pets is like having children," Adams said. "This relationship with the pet will affect every other close relationship, whether that's romantic or platonic."