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Let’s Talk About Pets, Baby

We asked The Wildest readers hard-hitting relationship questions, and here’s what we learned.

by Sean Zucker
February 17, 2022
A couple smiling at their cat
Thais Varela / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Maintaining a healthy relationship has always required a decent amount of work. Add in living through a global pandemic wherein your significant other might have been the only person you saw for weeks on end during lockdown — that’s downright taxing. But as with most things that make life worth living, the challenges only make the triumphs that much sweeter. There may be no greater representation of this fact than adding a pet into the mix. For all the joy and purpose our pets introduce into our lives, they’ve also been known to, er, complicate romance. We surveyed you (our readers!) to decipher the impact pets have had on your love life, and here’s what we learned: 

Our Pets Know Best 

Say what you will about their gaudy aesthetic, but the Spice Girls were onto something when they sang if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. They just forgot to specify that they were referring to furry friends. According to our survey, we greatly value our pets’ opinions when it comes to the tenure of potential suitors. Roughly two-thirds said they would consider breaking up with someone if their pet didn’t like them. That number seems high, yet somehow not high enough. 

We Love Our Pets Like They’re Our Children (Possibly More So)

Our partners and children may keep us grounded and whole, but if there’s anyone we want to see more of it’s our pets. When asked who you would have liked to have spent more time away from over the last year, pets were last on the list. Users were given the choice of three individuals — children, partners, or pets — and the results might give new meaning to the term “pet parent.” 43% said they would have enjoyed more time away from their kids, 37% said their partners, and only 20% said their pets in a huge win for cats and dogs in their endless battle with babies for the throne of cutest family member. 

wildest managing relationships with pets survey results
Kinship Creative
Kinship Creative

Pets Are People Too 

We asked if it was acceptable to talk to your pet like a human and a resounding 99% responded that it was. I’ve long thought of talking to my dog as the freest form of therapy, but I didn’t realize we were all racking up such a high bill. Beyond this, 82% of users also stated that it was okay to have a pet sleep in bed with you.

It’s a Pet Party in the U.S.A.

As established above, our pets are our people. Given that, it’s no surprise that so many of our users believe their pets deserve to enjoy many of the same celebrations we do. 83% declared it was acceptable to throw pets a birthday or gotcha day party, with 30% claiming to celebrate both. Of course, the vast majority (92%) said it was acceptable to give your pets presents on a daily basis. Because — obviously. 

For the Love of Attention 

Is it acceptable to give your pet more attention than your significant other? 56% of you believe so. Interestingly, the split is much higher when factoring in gender, as 31% of men find it unacceptable versus only 15% of women. However, this does track as — in my experience — men make much needier partners. That being said, over half of those we surveyed found it acceptable to kiss your pet on the mouth, so maybe we all have a bit more love to give. 

wildest managing relationships with pets survey results
Kinship Creative
wildest managing relationships with pets survey results
Kinship Creative

We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together

Breakups are messy and sometimes friendships, mental health, or your vintage typewriter collection can be destroyed as a result. But when a beloved pet is involved, you may have a custody battle on your hands. And if our findings are any indication, an allocation of time is likely not an option. We asked who would get the pet in a hypothetical breakup; 23% said co-parenting was an option while 73% stated “me.” To avoid possible arbitration — stay together for the kids. 

Best Kept Secrets

If it isn’t clear by now, relationships are tricky. What you want might not always align perfectly with what your partner wants — or vice versa. This can be especially poignant when facing the biggest question every committed couple inevitably confronts: should we get another pet? We asked what you would do if your partner didn’t want another pet, and the results were somewhat reassuring. Only 9% saw it as a dealbreaker and said they would end the relationship, while about half said they would simply not get another pet to appease their spouse. Before you get too excited about the strength and maturity of our collective relationships — the other 42% admitted they’d just get another pet in secret and assume the new addition would grow on their loved one. What’s that old saying about asking forgiveness, not permission?

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and has behavioral issues rival his own.