Monday, March 7, 2011

Pets In Relationships – Part 1

When two people first meet, it is hard to tell if they will mesh in all aspects of their lives.  This is what dating is all about.  Dating is a fun way to get to know someone that if you do mesh with, may be the next and last “love of your life.”  When we're first dating we are always focused on the good and what clicks, the things we love.  A couple likes the same foods, activities and hobbies, similar home interests.  Most people do not want dating to be like an interview and it doesn't have to be. Remember however that even with all the fun your having it is a time of assessment both of the person your dating and yourself. 

The worst thing we can do in a relationship is be someone we're not.  All too often once a relationship moves from casual dating to an exclusive relationship, we see more of the person in their own environment and things come up that don't quite sit right with us.  Often we think, “Oh, I love that person so I can live with it. It doesn't bother me.”   This is a very crucial time especially for the one that doesn't like the issue.  If you are that person, it is important to realize that the conversation has occurred  in your head, and that the rationalization process has begun. This won't be the only issue that the two of you  have to resolve. So look at this as a trial run.

We can look to, as an example, pets.  Many of us have pets. When we start dating we are going to find ourselves most likely dating someone who at least likes the idea of having a pet, is in a transitional pet “stage” or has a pet themselves.  For some people “pets” are inside house dogs who are like a family  member, for others they are guard dogs still in the house and still others have working dogs that are outside.  So we both like dogs! Great!

What happens though when two people don't agree? One says the dog is, a for lack of a better word, a  nuclear family member the other says it should be treated as an extended family member.  Small dogs, more often than not are the ones that fall into the nuclear family category. They are treated more like a child or a spouse than they are a pet.  Larger dogs more often than not fall into the extended family scenario mainly due to their size.

There is no right or wrong in this.  People are different, they have different upbringings, different ideas and ideals.  Any number of things contribute but, at a point like this, one thing is sure.  Either there is going to be a compromise or a stalemate.  So which would it be for you? 

Before you answer, lets look at some scenario's that illustrate what the differences are.  Some people have a dog that what they are doing, the dog is doing.  If the person is eating, the dog (healthy for the dog or not) is eating too.  Same food.  These would be dogs that wait at the dinner table, patiently anticipating a snack from the dinner table in the middle of dinner. This is a dog that would most likely sleep in the bed and go as many places with the person as it could go. This dog is a companion. 

Then along comes intimacy.  A very personal and important part of a flourishing relationship.  And there is the dog in the bed.  It may be lying quietly, it may be jumping around frantic. What would you do?

We invite you to comment either publicly or privately so that we can incorporate our audiences' thoughts into part two of this topic.  Please post comments or e-mail David with your thoughts!

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