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It’s either me or the dog. This is the ultimatum that many people think only happens in the movies. It’s a dramatic choice that one partner makes, expecting the other to choose romance over their beloved animal companion in a heartbeat. But, did you know that more and more people are asking this of their partner? It’s an interesting question, and one with no definitive answer. To understand why some people might choose their pet over their partner, we need to look at the reasons why people might make this choice.
How Many People Would Choose Their Pet Over Their Partner?
A poll of 2,000 pet-owning British adults found that one in three people would choose their pet over their partner if given the ultimatum.1 However, another poll says that 64% of people would choose their pet over a partner.2 That’s quite a jump in the numbers, not one that either poll could explain.
Why Would Someone Choose Their Pet Over Their Partner?
In a Reddit thread, over 9,000 people to date had shared their stories about how their ex-partner reacted when they chose to break up over their pets. A few common reasons were:
A Reflection of a Deeper Problem
It doesn’t make you look good to ask something like this of your partner. Many people described the problem as the relationship being mostly one-sided. It wasn’t that their pet didn’t like their partner, but the other way around. Many individuals were worried about future jealousy from their partner’s standpoint. After all, if your partner is jealous of your pet, what else will they be jealous about? In the end, many individuals may be worried that the request reflects deeper personality problems in their partner. In many cases, it isn’t just about the pet.
When you get a pet to call your own, they become your responsibility and yours alone. To abandon a dependent animal for a relationship shows a lack of loyalty and follow-through, which for many, is not an ideal trait for a life partner. If their partner cannot take care of a pet, many people are understandably worried that they won’t be able to take care of anything else. Most people don’t want to get into a long-term relationship with someone they can’t trust to be responsible. Once again, many consider abandoning a pet a sign of an underlying problem.
Sometimes, beyond it all, it can be boiled down very simply; the pet was there first. When a new partner starts complaining about a pet right away—even before they move into the house—it could be a sign of an uncrossable rift in the relationship. Many people are understandably concerned about values not lining up, especially if the partner is new and the pet has been around a while. Some people love animals, and others don’t. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if one person cannot imagine life without a dog and the other person never wants to own one, it may also be a sign of other potential value issues. When two partners cannot see eye-to-eye in the future, it may be a sign that the relationship won’t work out.
Why Would Someone Choose Their Partner Over Their Pet?
In a similar vein, many people may choose their partner over their pet for many reasons; not all of those reasons are terrible.
A partner who’s developed a severe allergy might be chosen over a pet provided the pet could be found a good home. Most couples try allergy treatments first, but they don’t always work, creating a decent footing for the choice to rehome a pet over a partner. Other times, the medical issue may be something besides allergies. For instance, immune-compromised individuals may not do well around animals, as they tend to have a lot of germs. In this case, it isn’t the partner’s fault that the pet needs to be re-homed. It isn’t a sign of an underlying personality or value problem, as with the points above.
Sometimes the reason isn’t personal—it’s financial. With rising living costs, some couples on the lower end of earnings may have to consider rehoming their pets due to financial drain. Often, you’d imagine that combining incomes would make it easier to care for a pet. However, if one partner losses their job or become sick, it may be hard for the earning partner to support both the pet and the unearning partner. Therefore, finances can play a surprisingly large role in choosing to rehome a pet.
An Issue of Worth
Another reason might be that someone just doesn’t value their pets as much as a human, or worse—they don’t value themselves enough to give up their partner’s affection over such an ultimatum. Many people in a relationship being asked this question have had attacks on their self-worth perpetrated by the asking partner and don’t feel they can stand up for themselves. There are many unhealthy reasons why someone may decide to rehome their pet. For instance, those with dependent personalities may do anything to “earn” their partner’s love.
Why Do People Give Ultimatums Like This?
These ultimatums are manipulation tactics used to strong-arm a person into doing what the other wants to prove their love or loyalty, which is a sign of an incredibly unhealthy relationship. By the time you’re given an ultimatum, there’s a good chance there are other red flags your partner has raised. Any choices being made about pets should be calm and on equal footing. Both partners are affected, and both need to have a say. While completely ignoring one partner’s concerns about the pet isn’t healthy, forcing a partner to give up their pet isn’t healthy, either.
The jury is still out on whether or not most people would choose their pet over their partner. Surveys have found conflicting data. There are many examples of people choosing their pets over their partners, especially in new relationships. However, there are many health reasons someone may want to choose their partner over their pet, too. Sometimes, the pet just doesn’t fit into their new life, especially if financial or medical reasons are involved. However, ultimatums should never be used to make one partner do something. This tactic is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. In many cases, it isn’t really about the pet. Many partners that chose their pet over their partner saw the ultimatum as a sign of an underlying issue, prompting them to end the relationship.
Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide what’s right for them. People should never be forced to choose between their pet and their partner. If you’re ever in a situation where someone is giving you an ultimatum like this, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the relationship. If you’re ever asked this question, it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship, and it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re considering choosing your partner over your pet, make sure to consider all the factors involved. There are many reasons why someone may choose their pet over their partner, and it’s important to understand why someone might make this choice. Ultimately, the decision is up to each individual, and it’s important to make sure that both partners are on equal footing when making this decision.