The Unexpected Ways Your Pets Can Sabotage Your Love Life

“It’s not you, it’s me.” If you’ve spent any time dating, you’ve probably heard those five words from someone. But sometimes, what the person really means is, “It’s actually your pet.”

It’s no surprise that a cute puppy can attract potential partners as you walk him around the park. But according to a surprising study by Woodstream, pets can sabotage relationships, too.

Whether you have a dog, a cat, or a pet that’s a little more exotic, these are the deal-breakers and turnoffs that could scare off potential partners.

1. Your pet behaves badly

little puppy border collie lying near people foot

A dog who behaves badly can scare away your romantic partner.| iStock.com/Ksuksa

Meeting your date in the park and thinking of taking your dog along? Planning to cook dinner at home and hoping your plus-one will get along with your cat? You might want to rethink those plans if your relationship is still young. Woodstream reports that 32% of men and 41% of women think bad behavior on the part of a pet is a deal-breaker in a relationship. Maybe you should plan a different date — and find a puppy kindergarten class ASAP.

2. Your pet acts in a way that reflects badly on you

Norwegian Forest Cat Relaxed

Your date may go running if your cat behaves poorly. | iStock.com/Phil Lewis

Here’s another good reason to make sure that your pet is on his best behavior the first time he hangs out with your new love interest. Woodstream found that 31% of survey respondents see a pet’s behavior as a reflection of the animal’s owner. Don’t want to give your date the wrong impression? Try to keep a grumpy cat from attacking or a nervous dog from panicking when your date walks in the door.  

3. You talk about your pet too much

Woman and her dog at her home office hugging

You might scare off a date if you talk too much about your pets. | iStock.com/Anchiy

Finding the right topics to discuss on a first date — or any date — poses a challenge. Woodstream warns that you may want to avoid talking too much about your dog or your cat. Whether you’re at dinner with someone you’ve just met for the first time or you’re hanging out with a long-term partner, they probably want to talk about things other than how often your dog barks at squirrels or how many socks your cat has hidden from you. 

4. Your pet spider sabotages your chance at a second date

Mexican tarantula

Having a pet tarantula can make it hard to get a second date. | iStock.com

Pets often come up in conversation on a first date. Unfortunately, that probably doesn’t end so well for you if you have a pet spider. Tarantulas are fascinating animals, but Woodstream learned that a full 55% of survey respondents wouldn’t go on a second date with somebody who kept spiders as pets. Ouch. Those in the know view tarantulas as often-misunderstood critters, but that’s often not enough to convince others they’re good pets. Humans hate rejection, but we bet your pet tarantula is used to it. 

5. Your pet snake is, well, a pet snake

brave man holding snake

Many people don’t want to go out with pet owners who have snakes, either. | iStock.com/Talitha_it

Another pet who might sabotage your chances at a second date? A snake. 42% of survey respondents told Woodstream that they wouldn’t go on a second date with somebody who had a pet snake at home. Many respondents admitted that they’re just too creeped out by “creepy-crawly” pets to go out with somebody who has one. But some also admitted that they were “truly terrified of the critters and wanted desperately to stay away, even if the animal’s reputation was worse than reality.”

6. Your mouse or rat scares off dates, too

gray rat

Lots of people will reject you if you keep a mouse or rat at home. | iStock.com/Cynoclub

A pet mouse or rat is a lot fluffier than a tarantula or a python. Nonetheless, these little rodents are almost as good at scaring off potential romantic partners. More than a third of survey respondents — a full 32% — told Woodstream that they’d decline to go on a second date with somebody who had a mouse or a rat as a pet. Rodents are another category of misunderstood pets. But we wouldn’t advise spending your date — even if it’s going to be the last one — trying to change somebody’s mind. 

7. Your cat sleeps in your bed with you

Ginger cat lies on bed. The fluffy pet comfortably hid under a blanket to sleep or to play

Letting your cat sleep in your bed may scare off a potential partner. | iStock.com/Aksenovko

If you’ve gotten to the point in your relationship where your love interest is sleeping over, there are plenty of new hurdles to jump over. Woodstream found that 21% of men and 17% of women consider it a deal-breaker if their love interest’s cat sleeps in the bed. It may not be a problem for you and your cat to share the bed when you’re alone. But aren’t things getting a little crowded when you add a new love interest to the mix?

8. Your (small) dog sleeps in your bed with you

Chihuahua dog lying on the bed with white background.

A small dog who sleeps in your bed can be a deal-breaker. | iStock.com/Thisislover

People who own small dogs, take note: Potential romantic partners probably don’t like it if you let your pet sleep in your bed, either. Woodstream reports that 18% of men and 12% of women consider it a deal-breaker for a small dog to sleep in your bed with you. That doesn’t sound so bad, but you may want to find even the smallest dog another place to sleep if he snores (or barks) all night. 

9. Your (big) dog wants to sleep in your bed

Dog is lying on back on the bed

A larger dog sleeping in your bed poses an even bigger problem. | iStock.com/Chalabala

Things get even more bleak if you have a large dog who wants to snuggle up with you at night. Woodstream found that 29% of men and 23% of women consider it a deal-breaker for a potential partner to allow a large dog to sleep in their bed at night. If you ask us, this may be a question of real estate. Nobody wants to share a tiny bed with another human and a big dog. Perhaps you should get Fido his own fluffy dog bed to make it up to him? 

10. You kiss your pet on the mouth

Woman holding her lovely cat

Try not to kiss your pet on the mouth — at least not while your date is in the room. | iStock.com/Cyano66

Kissing your pet on the mouth is a bad idea for several reasons. (Just think of all the bacteria on that adorable, but unsanitary, face!) Your romantic partner probably doesn’t appreciate it, either. 20% of men and 26% of women cited it as a huge turnoff for their love interest to kiss their pet on the mouth. We’re assuming that most of these people are envisioning a partner kissing a dog or a cat. But we doubt you can get away with it with a mouse or a rabbit, either. 

11. You let your animal stay in the room while you get busy

dog on a bed

Some activities need to stay private. |  iStock.com

Planning to get busy in the bedroom? Then you might want to discreetly show your dog or cat to a different part of the house. Woodstream found that 20% of men and 33% of women consider it a deal-breaker for a partner to let a cat watch them during sex. The numbers are even worse if you’re letting your dog stay in the room. 22% of men and 39% of women consider that a major turnoff. As Woodstream notes, “Some things were just meant to be kept private – even from pets.”

12. You have too many pets

bulldog puppies playing

Too many pets can scare off a date. | iStock.com/Onetouchspark

Another surprising turnoff cited by respondents to the Woodstream survey? Having too many pets living with you in your house or apartment. While there will always be some people who think that even one pet is too many (do you really want to date one of those people anyway?), most people draw the line at about three animals. Whether you favor cats or dogs, the study shows that having too many of them underfoot can scare off potential partners. 

13. You talk to your pet like a baby

Lady sitting on sofa drinking coffee and a lovely dog (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Blenheim) sleeping on her lap

Talking to your pet like a baby is a big turnoff. | iStock.com/Banepx

Woodstream asked survey respondents whether it was cute or creepy for potential partners to talk to their pets like a baby. The answer depended on the gender of the respondent. 36% of women found it cute. However, 34% of men found it creepy. This is probably the kind of thing where you need to know your audience. If you’re unsure, perhaps try to talk to your pet in a “normal” voice when a new love interest is around. 

14. You blog (or Instagram) from your pet’s perspective

Yawning Ginger Red Cat

People find it creepy when you blog from your pet’s perspective. | iStock.com/Valery Kudryavtsev

Most pet owners enjoy sharing cute snapshots of their pets on social media. Unfortunately, survey respondents think some people take it way too far. 54% of men and 40% of women said they’d be creeped out if they found out that their date maintains a blog (or possibly an Instagram feed) written from the perspective of their pet. It might sound completely normal to you, but not everybody sees it that way.

15. Your pet seems creepy

Cat looking at the camera

A pet who seems creepy can also scare off your love interest. | iStock.com/Mile84

You might not mind it when your cat stares you down across the room or when your dog lurks under furniture near you. However, if that behavior seems creepy to your date, you may find yourself in trouble. Woodstream found that one of the biggest pet-related reasons why people choose to end a relationship is that their partner’s pet seemed creepy. Another possibly related deal-breaker? A pet who’s “terrifying.” Owners of aggressive dogs and passive-aggressive cats, take note.

16. Your pet is just too loud

Aggressive dog is barking

A loud pet may send your date running. | iStock.com/Chalabala

Another common reason that people have chosen to break off a relationship with a pet owner? The pet is just too loud. Dogs are likely the primary culprit here. Some pet owners don’t even notice when their dog has been barking too long, or won’t stop whining at the bedroom door. However, if you want to keep the romance alive, try to make sure that your pet’s cries for attention aren’t getting too far out of hand. 

17. Your pet is dirty or sheds too much

A young Leonberger puppy is lying

A pet who’s dirty is another deal-breaker. | iStock.com/Lolostock

This deal-breaker is particularly unfortunate because you could solve the problem by giving Fido more frequent baths or grooming sessions. Woodstream found that many respondents broke off a relationship to get away from a pet that is either dirty or just sheds too much. You’re probably used to the cat hair all over your clothes, or the dirt that your dog tracks in from the yard. But try to be mindful of how those things look to your new love interest, especially if you hope that they’ll hang out with you and your pet for a while.

Read More: Things People Always Get Wrong About Adopting a Pet From the Shelter

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