One of the most difficult hurdles new couples run into in the early stage of a relationship often has to do with the other important being in one of the partner’s lives—his or her fur baby. If you have a pet who is your world, you’re likely not willing to kick your collar-wearing friend to the curb so easily, and especially just because your new boo is not a fan—and you shouldn’t have to. “Pets are part of the family, so if your significant doesn’t like or approve of your pet, he or she is basically saying that they don’t like and/or approve of your family,” says Heidi McBain, licensed marriage and family therapist. “This closed-mindedness can be very damaging to your relationship.”
So what do you do if you find yourself with a partner that isn’t a fan of your pet? We turned to relationship experts for their unreserved advice.
First, find out why they don’t like or approve of your pet.
While in your mind, there may be no valid reason not to love your precious Fluffy or Fido, there may be some actual validity underneath your partner’s disdain for your fur baby. Are they allergic to cats? If it’s something medically related, McBain recommends that they check with their doctor about how to get around this issue. “You’re looking for a willingness on their part to try to make the situation better because they understand that your pet is part of your family,” she adds.
If your partner does not like you pet due to allergies, meeting with an allergist to address the symptoms can be helpful. In addition to seeing an allergist it may be time to increase the cleaning frequency or even hiring a cleaning service.
Dig deeper into their disdain.
Did their family forbid them from having pets? If their lack of fondness over your pet has something to do with their upbringing, perhaps a result of their family not allowing them to have pets, it may make some sense why they can’t seem to grasp the idea of having a furry friend around. “Are they open to getting to know your pet better?” asks McBain. “Sometimes people can be skittish around animals if they’ve never lived with one before, so find out if they are willing to try to make this work.”
Are they jealous of the attention that you give your pet (and vice versa)? If this is the case, McBain recommends reassuring them (both) that there’s enough love to go around. Also, she suggests giving your pet and significant other the time they need to warm up to each other and get to know each other slowly, over time. “Their relationship needs time to grow as well,” she says. “Have your partner do things that your pet enjoys like taking your dog for a walk.”
Consider seeking professional help.
If your partner does not like you pet because of you pet’s behavior towards them, it may be time to engage in some professional help. “Sometimes our pets are so aligned with us that they will not accept another person in their life and may have difficulty accepting that they are no longer getting all of the attention,” explains Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW, psychotherapist and owner of Cline Counseling & Consulting, LLC. “An animal behaviorist may be able to help work on the dynamics so you can all co-exist and, in time, this can strengthen the relationship of your partner and your pet which can strengthen the relationship you have with your partner.”
If nothing changes, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship.
If you’re making significant efforts to improve and smooth things over between your partner and your pet to the point where it’s creating conflict in your relationship, it might be time to decide whether or not the two of you really have a future. “For many people, not getting along with a pet is a deal breaker and if your partner does not value what is really important to you, it may be best to free up space in your life for someone who does,” says Cline. “Pets often feel like our children and if your significant other does not like your children that says something.”