We’ve all heard the horror stories: Sally falls in love with Joe, but then Joe gives her an ultimatum — get rid of the dogs or he’s not moving in.
Situations like these are unfortunately common, but mostly avoidable. While it’s entirely plausible that Joe is just a total jerk, it’s also possible that Sally A) waited too long to tell Joe about her dogs and/or B) didn’t make it clear how much her dogs mean to her.
If your pets are a non-negotiable part of your life, you owe it to whomever you are dating to make that clear from the get-go. And by that, I mean the first date.
Just like a single mom should disclose that she has children, you need to let your date know that you have a cat, a guinea pig, or a tarantula that you refuse to part with. Not because you owe your date anything, but because you owe it to yourself to only date people who appreciate you and your family.
“But what if he doesn’t want to date me? What if she’s put off by how much I adore my dog?” Trust me, it’s far easier to get a rejection now than to wait until you’re about to say “I do” to discover your partner refuses to share you with your pets.
Here are 5 ways to emphasize how much you love your pets before it’s too late:
1. Include your pet in your profile picture. Didn’t meet online? That’s ok. Change your Facebook and Instagram profile picture -Trust me, he looked you up before going out with you.
- Ask him if he has any pets. His reaction to the question will reveal a lot. Does he laugh and say, “No way!” or respond with a, “I wish but I can’t have animals in my building”?
Talk about your pet. The natural response to your previous question will be for him to ask you the same thing. Say something like, “Whiskers is my world” or “I love Frodo, I don’t know what I’d do without him.” This makes it clear that your pet is a big part of your life, and you aren’t trying to hide it.
Recommend a future date that includes your pet. If the date goes well, recommend that on the next date you do something like walk in the local park with your dog before going out to dinner, or try one of these dog-friendly date night ideas. Watch how your date interacts with your dog; does he seem nervous? Put off? Or totally enthralled?
Continue to discuss and include your pet during your time together. Chances are if you make it past the first and second dates and he’s still interested, the fact you have an animal hasn’t completely turned him off. That said, it could be easy for you to think, “Ah, that’s done! Now let’s have fun.”
But it’s not. Your partner could easily start to think he’s taking precedence in your life, and that your pet is becoming optional. Don’t let that happen, or you may end up in Sally’s shoes.
As things progress, make sure at the first inkling of a discussion about moving in or getting married, you say something like, “You know Whiskers and I are a package deal, right?” Make it as obvious as possible while you’re dating that you and your pet will not be separated.
But what if you do all that, and later down the road you discover Joe simply can’t deal with Frodo living in his house? Many times people think they can change or overlook things that irritate them about a significant other only to find that it’s a huge roadblock later on. In those cases, you just have to rest assured that you did everything you could, and that this person clearly isn’t the right one for you.
There are plenty of pet-lovers in the sea! After recovering in a tub of ice cream, try finding a date at the local dog park or animal shelter.
Have you ever wondered when to tell your date about your pets? Share your experience in a comment below.
About the Author:
Natalie McKee rescued her cat, Pumpkin, as a kitten and he’s still healthy as can be 14 years later. She now writes about cat health and exercise at Leaping Cats.