Pets are considered to be part of the family for many households in the U.S., with around 66% having a “fur-baby” of some kind. Many studies have shown that owning a pet can be incredibly beneficial for individual well-being. However, recent research has focused on the intricate role pets can play in romantic relationships.
While it is known that pets can be a great source of emotional support, unrelenting motivators for physical activity and providers of unconditional love, studies show pets can also play a significant role in partner choice, relationship outcomes and diffusing tension between partners.
Here are three ways that research shows pets can act as your furry matchmaker.
1. Pets Can Boost Your Dating Game
A 2015 study from Anthrozoös–a journal specializing in the interactions between people and animals–found that pets play an intriguing role in the appraisal and selection of potential love interests. Interestingly, these roles differed for men and women.
Women in the study were found to be more discerning of romantic interests on the basis of pet ownership. In essence, women reported they were more likely to be attracted to someone if they owned a pet—significantly more so than men. Men in the study were also found to use their pets as a way to attract potential lovers at a higher rate than women.
So, pet-fathers, be sure to have those photos of you and your furry friend visible on your socials and dating profiles. Showing off your status as a pet owner can prove to others that you’re capable of responsibility, patience, commitment and companionship.
Additionally, more women in the study relied on pet interaction cues from romantic interests in order to discern whether they were a worthy partner. Simply put, if a woman saw her potential love interest treating her pet with kindness, affection or care, she would be more likely to consider dating them than someone who interacted with her pet indifferently, or not at all.
This simple act of expressing affection towards animals, whether yours or not, is a sure-fire way to reveal your more affectionate side, and the science shows this could increase your chances of winning them over.
2. Pets Can Strengthen Your Bond With Your Partner
Once you’ve won your partner over by showing them your animal-loving side—and if you manage to settle down with them—you can further improve your relationship by co-owning a pet with your partner. Another study found co-ownership of a pet can lead to various romantic relationship benefits.
The researchers found individuals in pet co-owning relationships reported high levels of closeness and familial feelings towards their partner, as well as higher relationship quality. In one of their studies, the researchers also found couples who owned pets together reported higher relationship quality than couples without a pet.
Sharing the joy of owning a pet with your partner can be a great way to bond and find happiness together. Sharing the responsibility of taking care of your pet can foster a sense of cooperation and teamwork. Of course, pet parenting isn’t always a walk in the park, but facing these challenges as a team could make you better at problem-solving and finding compromises that work for both of you.
Caring for a pet with your partner also allows for shared physical activity and quality time together. Playing and cuddling with your pet as a couple can create precious moments of intimacy, and regularly playing or taking your pet on walks can promote a shared healthy and active lifestyle.
3. Pets Can Alleviate Relationship Tension
In an article published in Family Process, a psychologist highlighted the many significant roles that pets can play in couple and family processes, as well as how they play a part in relational dynamics and tensions. The author recounts a wholesome social experiment that her former colleague conducted, in which he set up a camera to record the daily dinners of a cat-owning couple each night of the week.
The couple’s conversations would often become tense during dinner. However, each time the couple were on the verge of conflict, their kitchen door would burst open and their cat would jump straight on the wife’s lap. As she pet the cat, light conversation resumed and the tension between the couple would disperse.
This anecdote shows that owning a pet can act as a natural stress reliever and conversation starter. The presence of a pet in a household can allow couples to shift their focus away from negative aspects of their lives or relationships and, in turn, reconnect with one another over shared love for their little companion.
Whether it’s the warmth of a purring cat on your lap or the boundless energy of a playful pup, pets remind us to appreciate the present and share our lives with those we care about. So, if you’ve ever needed a sign to embrace the world of pet ownership, consider this your invitation to let a furry friend into your heart and your home. They’ll not only fill your life with love, but also make your journey through love all the more joyful and heartwarming.