Competing With Your Partner’s Pet

Skylar Dial
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The More the Merrier

Having pets and children in the household compete for attention. Now, having pets in the household can draw your kids’ attention away from you. But pets can also act as great babysitters for your children, especially when you're after a well-deserved break. Having pets in the house helps reduce stress. And I'm sure, many of us wouldn't mind the occasional help from our dog or cat when we have urgent deadlines to meet.

Dogs are most people's first choice when looking for a pet … the most popular choice worldwide. Dogs are generally affectionate, obedient and love to be petted. Cats have become an acceptable pet, but the fact that they clean themselves and are more independent, makes them pickier in homes.

And we all know, having two pets (dogs for example) creates twice as much fun and twice as much work. You'll need to feed, play and cuddle them. If you're planning to get another pet or adopt a rescue, then this post will help you make an informed decision. And remember, it's always a good idea to consult your partner and your family before making any drastic decisions.

Love at First Sight

Not Exactly.

From the time we are little kids, we have the notion that animals and pets love us unconditionally. And that idea continues well into adulthood. Most of us consider our pets as part of the family with them acting as our constant companions and our protectors. At some point, we also think that our pets love us just as much as we love them, and there is nothing that can get in the way of their love.

The reality, however, is no species loves another one just as much as the other species loves it. The reason why many people have the misconception that their pets love them unconditionally is because pets show social behaviors that easily translate as affection, such as licking, head butting, following, touching and seeking contact or being close to their owners. But they don’t necessarily do these things out of love or out of a desire to please us, they do it out of instinct or for social bonding.

In the eyes of your pet, you are their caretaker and food provider. This is why the ability to provide consistent care, food, and safety is much more important to a pet than an owner’s “love”. So before you start feeling down because you think that your pet doesn’t love you back as much as you love them, try to understand their perspective.

Getting Cozy With Our Creatures

I was raised in a non-pet household and it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I got my first pet. When you adopt a pet, your emotional attachment to it is immediate.

What’s interesting is that with the majority of couples, there’s a pattern of one partner getting the pet and the other partner developing a more intense emotional connection to the pet than the partner who brought the pet home. After months of observing my three friends who fell into this pattern, which is in most cases, I noticed a very certain behavioral pattern that I’m going to share with you now.

First, my couples would start out with a serious commitment to co-owning a pet. They were really excited about this joint venture and had supreme confidence in their ability to jointly care for a creature.

Emotionally Unavailable

Partners who are emotionally unavailable will find a way to always compete with you and your pet. They want to feel that they are your priority but they can never do that if you can't choose them over your pets as a partner.

An emotionally unavailable partner will always say that they understand your commitment to your pet but they will always find a way to make you feel guilty or demonstrate their superiority as your partner. By doing this, they achieve a desperate need for validation and to feel important and wanted by you.

There are ways to handle this source of conflict in your life. Honestly taking responsibility for your part in the situation is definitely the first step in the process. Another important step is to find a balance. Only then, you will be effective in addressing the situation with your partner. It is not a matter of putting your partner or your pet in a specific order, but it is a matter of understanding the importance of each of them in your life.

Happy Homes

Or Strife: Dominant Pet Syndrome & Competition For Your Partner's Affection

Although many organized religions discourage keeping pets, a study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 102, Issue 3, pp. 527–538) shows that the presence of a pet in the home can translate into greater marital satisfaction for couples.

This study showed that pet owners exhibited greater feelings of attachment to their partner than non-pet owners. This attachment, in turn, was strongly correlated with overall marital satisfaction.

So how can a pet make you feel more attached to, and more satisfied with, your partner? The study’s authors argue that pets provide an opportunity for couples to work together as a team.

When it comes to caring for a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or fish, the onus of responsibility is on both owners, and this provokes feelings of “mutual reliance and trust.” Couples who share an experience, and, in this case, a pet, are more likely to work together towards a common goal and to create what researchers call a “shared reality.” And this feeling of unity and working together towards a common goal leads to greater feelings of satisfaction with the relationship.

Drawing a Line

The Hidden Problem in Competing With Your Partner’s Pet

Your partner may have already mentioned that something doesn’t sit right with him or her. The conversation was probably about your constant complaints about how the pet is “getting in the way” and how the pet “steals” your partner’s attention. Your partner naturally feels somewhat defensive about the fact that he or she has an emotional connection with their pet.

Instead of laying claim to being the Number One Priority in the relationship, and being forced to feel like “the bad guy” regarding the pet, try giving your partner some time to enjoy relationship perks with the pet. It’s the adult thing to do and benefits all involved in the relationship.

The problem may not be about a pet at all! Perhaps it’s nothing more than you’re getting upset with your partner’s lack of attentiveness to you and that makes you perceive the pet as a distraction to your relationship, and not the responsible party.

Better Off Alone

Or With a Partner?

Pets and kids are often a couple’s first experience of living with another person or being part of a bigger group. Comparing your pet and your kid to each other or to friends’ pets and kids can be natural. But it’s important not to mistake your pet’s loyalty for genuine love.

Cats and dogs aren’t human and they don’t have the same attitudes to belonging as humans do, so don’t expect the same loyalty from your pet as you would from a person. Pets are driven by their instincts, and are likely to behave a certain way based on the kind of pet they are. Usually, pets in a family stay with this family because they are fed and given shelter, but their real love for you can be tested when a new pet is introduced to the group. Pets are territorial creatures by nature, and while they may feel a strong bond with the human members of the household, they may not have the same bond with each other.

In Love With Our Pets

Pets are like family members: they can follow you like a shadow, give you unconditional love, provide comfort, and even help you to lower your blood pressure. They are good listeners, can brighten up your day, and can even save your life when you need them! They are also a great source of support.

So how do you cope with a pet you love but hate to live with? For example, do you have a pet that is injuring your relationship? Perhaps you live with a cat that urinates on your clothes? Or maybe your beloved pooch is barking and howling so much that it wakes you up every morning? Or perhaps your partner's aggressive chinchilla is causing you to never want to come home?

You might as well get comfortable (on the couch), surf the web for advice, and chase your tail – there is no easy answer to these dilemmas. No one wants to give up their pet. However, you should first address the root cause of the pet damaging your partnership. Any other considerations would have to take a backseat.

You might immediately conclude that you must part ways with your beloved pet. On the other hand, your once beloved pet might make a miraculous turnaround and become the perfect partner.

Methodology

So how did we create this list? First, we researched popular dogs belonging to celebrities. We then looked at a recent advertisement featuring the dog and evaluated its popularity. A lot of the ads were created by celebrity moms to promote a specific product like a style of clothing, a makeup line, health food, and more. The ads featuring the dogs for the most part were popular on social media sites and the popularity of the ad was a big factor in deciding the level of the dog’s popularity.

And to give you a sense of how important the ad is, of the five top dogs in our list, only one was not a product endorsement. The rest were because they were the star of his/her mom’s ad.

To be clear, we are not taking into account the dog’s fame before appearing in the ad. This list is an honest evaluation of a dog’s popularity based on the ad’s popularity. As a side note, after their moms, the four dogs on this list who are star-studded with their own ads are on the list because of the ads with their moms.

Fair Use Statement

In the past year, my partner was honest about his needs and desires and we both agreed to remain open with each other. We decided to allow each other to date other people with the goal being focused on keeping our relationship healthy and primary.

We often take each other out on dates, spending time doing activities we each enjoy. I’ll hang out with my partner and play World of Warcraft with him. He’ll hang out with me and watch me play video games, drink wine, drink beer or sometimes even both together.

When we allow our partner to compete with our pet, we’re saying we’re prepared to allow them to enter our personal space, spend time with us, to help and assist us in ways that we allow only our partner to be involved with. It’s very powerful when you allow yourself to compete with your pet and let your partner into your world and treat them with respect and love.