I love it when others confirm something that I already thought to be true. In this case, it’s the idea that people are often much nicer to their pets than they are to their romantic partners. PsychCentral explains how people account for their unconditional pet-love:
People often describe pets as undemanding and giving unconditional love, when the reality is that pets require a lot of time and attention, special foods and care. They throw up on rugs, pee in the house and steal food from countertops. Yet we accept their flaws because we love them so much.
The article describes 6 ways we are more emotionally generous to our pets:
1) How we greet them – in a positive, animated, affectionate way. As opposed to barely looking up from your Blackberry when he comes home.
2) Our expectations of them – minimal to reasonable. Your expectations of your boyfriend: perfection/connection/mindreading/mindblowing sex or bust.
You yell… when your dog chews your shoe and are petting him an hour later. Yet you might go to bed mad because of something stupid that your husband said…
3) How we hold grudges against them – you yell for a moment when your dog chews your shoe and are petting him an hour later. Yet you might go to bed mad because of something stupid that your husband said about your new haircut.
4) Assuming the best – you know your cat didn’t have bad intentions when waking you up at 5am, but you assume that your boyfriend was trying to disrespect you when he smiled at the checkout girl. Maybe he was just being polite.
5) Acceptance – the dog licks your friend’s face when she arrives, you say, “That’s just the dog”. Your boyfriend likes playing video games and you want to decapitate him. Actually, “that’s just your boyfriend.”
Few pets live with the the implication that things are just not working out. Not so with partners.
6) For Better or For Worse – People love and care for pets of every size, shape and disposition. “She’s not exactly a watch dog; she’s loving but easily frightened.” “He insists on sleeping on the bed – we have given in.” Few pets live with the the implication that things are just not working out. Not so with partners. It’s hard to feel a consistent emotional connection when you always feel like you can be tossed out for the latest infraction.
It’s easy to say that you treat your romantic partners worse because you have more emotionally invested in them, because they’re free-thinking human beings who should know how to be more considerate, because the relationship has more of a give and take. All duly noted.
That doesn’t excuse the overall picture here. You are quite likely more considerate, patient, emotionally giving, and sane with co-workers, friends and pets than you are with your romantic partners. Something about love brings out the impatient, demanding side, apparently.
As a guy who grew up with pets (I’m lobbying with my wife to get a dog bigger than a terrier), I have to say that just about the ONLY clients I’ve ever STRUGGLED to help were women who were more in love with animals than they were with men. Not just “crazy cat ladies”. Dog women – the ones with 4 or 5 of ‘em – would much rather hang with their dogs than go on a date.
Dog women – the ones with 4 or 5 of ‘em – would much rather hang with their dogs than go on a date.
And it makes sense, especially when your ideal relationship consists of a furry friend who doesn’t talk back, and is excited to see you every day because you’re the one who provides, food, water, shelter and affection. Comparatively, men can only lose.
Then again, a dog will never pay the rent, raise your kids, drive you to the doctor, cook you a meal, give you an orgasm, or have any private jokes with you.
If you want one of those creatures in your life, you should probably learn to treat men like dogs…
You know what I mean.