As we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, some of you may not know that he suffered with depression. According to a Time Magazine article back in the 1960s, Dr. King attempted suicide before the age of 13 when his grandmother was ill and again after her death. During […]
You’ve been dating this guy. He seems really nice. He tells you he owns a dog. Is this more than a nice fact about his life? Yes, you can learn a lot about a person in terms of his pet relationship.
One of the markers of severe psychological disturbance is cruelty to pets. So eliminate the relationship right away if you see animal cruelty. That aside, are there other observations you can make about a pet owner when it comes to a relationship with you? Here are a few questions to ponder:
What if he or she is the person who allows their very large dog to sleep in his or her bed? Does that concern you? If you were married to this person, could you adjust to this, or would your spouse set a boundary with the animal and make your sleep life better? Would this person be willing to change the pet’s sleep habit to accommodate you? If the person is rigid in this area, it’s not a good sign!
What if the pet is poorly behaved? Is this indicative of a person who doesn’t discipline or train? Would that person make a good mom or dad if they can’t control a pet? Basically, why is the animal out of control and what is the owner doing about that? Food for thought!
How about the person who talks incessantly about their pet, shows you too many pictures, and insists the pet goes everywhere? Surely there is more to a person’s life than their pet. If you find the pet is getting more attention than you, its a red flag. You don’t want to be jealous of an animal if your partner prioritizes a pet over you.
How does the pet fit into finances? Yes, owning a pet brings unconditional love and combats stress. But there is pet insurance, food, sickness, infections, medicine, boarding, grooming, veterinarian visits, etc. All cost money. And pet services are not cheap! So it might be good to have a conversation about how having a pet will impact finances. You don’t want to resent having a pet because your finances are being drained.
Will you be able to make the sacrifice of less spontaneity in the relationship? When you own a pet, you can’t just get away for the weekend unless you can take your animal. Mostly, you have to plan ahead and find care for your pet. It does limit your ability to pick up and go, so you have to talk about that and find out the plan for pet care. This is why some couples have a pet before a child–they want to see if they are ready for the responsibility and sacrifice. But once you have the pet, you have both responsibility and will make sacrifices!
How does the person interact with the pet? This is so important to observe. Are they harsh, neglectful, uncaring–red flags! You want a person who is warm, affection, attentive and interactive with the pet, but can set appropriate boundaries and do the discipline needed.
Obviously, there is much to attend to when someone owns a pet. It’s another window into the complexity of their life. And if I am considering someone for a partner, I want to open as many windows as possible!