My boyfriend moved in with me a few months ago. I am a dog lover—I work with animal rescue groups and place abandoned dogs in homes—but he is not. I knew this going in, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.
My dog’s name is Poolie. My boyfriend doesn’t like her around and wants her kept in a separate part of the house, preferably outside. Before he moved in, Poolie was with me all the time. She even slept on my bed at night. He is showing his true colors. I love my boyfriend and I love my dog. I don’t want to pick one over the other, but it really has made me very unhappy and it is beginning to impact how I feel toward my boyfriend. If I don’t fix this soon, I don’t know what I am going to do. Do you have any ideas that can help me?
In the Doghouse
Dear Must Love Dogs,
I’ve thought about your situation over the past few days and mentioned it to a handful of friends on separate occasions. All of them said instantly, “Oh that’s not going work! She should break up with him.” One of them said ominously, “We will be judged as a society by the way we treat our elders and our animals.”
I agree that the outlook does not look good. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to be a dog lover to respect the fact that you are. This seems to be the first test of compromise for your live-in relationship and he is failing miserably. On the other hand, I know that “Just break up with him!” is hard to hear especially after you recently moved in together. I’m sure you want to try to work this out, so let’s give him a chance to step up.
Sit him down and tell him that you know he’s not a dog person and you respect it. For that reason, you’ll never ask him to walk, feed, bath, or pick up poop (list other Poolie-related chores). However, you would like him to respect the fact that you are a dog lover and you like to have your dog around. List a few areas where you would like him to consider compromising—let Poolie watch TV with the two of you and the like. Hopefully he’ll agree or at least offer some counter-compromises that you can discuss. If he resists, stay calm and point out that he knowingly moved in with someone who owns a dog. Ask what he thought it would be like. Tell him that you love Poolie and it hurts you when he dismisses her carelessly.
If he refuses to compromise on any front, the relationship prospects do not look good. If someone is naturally disrespectful, there is little you can do to change it. Let’s say you were to find another home for Poolie, I have no doubt that your boyfriend would be equally as bad-mannered and unwilling to compromise about other issues. If the relationship ends over this, you are not choosing your dog over your boyfriend. You are choosing yourself over someone who is not showing you any respect.
Best of luck,
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.