Question: Dear Luise: I’m not too sure how to begin, but here it goes: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half, and we have a great relationship. The only problem is his dog! He is utterly convince that she is the best dog ever, though she is untrained and has aggression problems, such as attacking he ex’s puppy for playing with her toys (His dog ripped open his thumb in the process as well), biting my kitten for sniffing in her bed, and nearly attacking my moms cat for the same thing. When I confront him about it his response is that it is unfair for me to come into the relationship and hate his “kid” and how he raised her. He has also told me that he would choose the dog over me, and if we didn’t have this problem he would marry me. I’ve tried to get over my hatred for this dog, but I cannot trust the damn thing! I also think that he turns a blind eye because he feels guilt over her getting hit as a puppy and loosing a leg. This is our only major problem and it’s got our relationship at a stand still. I’m at my wits end and I don’t know what to do anymore! any time the subject is brought up it turns into a massive fight! Help Please!! P.
Answer: Dear P.: Your boyfriend is right. You came into an established relationship in which his loyalty toward his “dependent” goes very deep. It sounds like it is the same thing for him as though he had a disabled and somewhat spoiled child. He even calls this dog his “kid.” (I’m afraid my husband and I do the same thing and I would *never* ask him to choose between us. I know better!)
So, whether you like it or not, it’s a package deal. If you can’t cope with that fact, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided you couldn’t, you need to move on. If you had raised this dog together and set up these standards as a couple, (like my husband and I have), it would be different but your boyfriend’s feelings are fierce and they are not yours. Fighting about it is damaging what you do have and isn’t changing a thing.
This is not so much about what is right and what is wrong as it is about what is.
And there’s another side of the coin to look at, loyalty is sometimes a rare thing and your boyfriends has it in spades!
If you care so much for the guy that it is a “no-matter-what” kind of loving, then you will change your tactics and approach the whole thing from a “where-does-an-alien go-to-register” reality. That may entail finding another family for your kitten. You may be entering a one-pet home. And it would definitely require sincerity. You can’t fake it.
Conversely, if you really hate the dog, it’s all over. Do you see that? It doesn’t matter if you see the situation as unfair or unreasonable…it’s not predicated on you, how you feel or what you need. It was pre-established before you made the scene and it’s set in concrete. You’re a precious and much-loved “add-on” to the family and that starts you out in the number three position. Blessings, Luise