Half of Pet Owners Say They'd Dump Their Partner Over This, New Study Says

You might be coming in second to their four-legged friends.

Not all couples are meant to stand the test of time. Some breakups are based on highly negative factors, like cheating or excessive arguing. On the other hand, some romances simply dissolve due to distance or because two people grow in different directions. But you might not realize that something else could be playing a part in the fate of your relationship. New research finds that our animal companions have such a significant role in our lives that they might even be the deciding factor in whether we stay with a romantic partner or dump them. Read on to find out what half of pet owners say they'd break up with their significant other over.

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Many people admit to loving their pet more than their partner.

Mature couple spending time together with their dog at home. They are sitting on the sofa, drinking yerba mate together
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We typically call our significant other our "better half," but for some, they might not be considered the best half. It turns out that 81 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 27 and 42 have admitted to loving their pets more than some of their family members, according to the American Pet Products Association's (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey. And while siblings and mothers were the top family members to lose out to these furry friends, romantic partners were not spared either. The survey found that 30 percent of respondents said their significant other still came second to a pet.

Now, new research has found that this bond between an owner and their pet is so strong that many people would even break up with their partner because of it.

Half of pet owners would dump their partner for this one thing.

Cropped shot of an affectionate young couple playing with their cat in their bedroom at home
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For those coming in second best, it might not be enough to just accept that a significant other loves their pet more. You may also have to adapt to how said pet is treated in the household.

In July 2022, the home services marketplace Angi surveyed 1,000 pet owners based in the U.S. to gather data for a study on "how they care for and cohabitant with their pets." All the respondents had at least one pet, with nearly 50 percent having dogs, roughly 15 percent having cats, and about 36 percent being both dog and cat owners.

According to the study, pet parents will "prioritize their four-legged friends" over their romantic partner. In fact, 49.9 percent said they would break up with a significant other if that person was not accepting of how their pet was treated in their household. This includes "pet care philosophies" such as whether or not you allow pets to sleep on your bed or furniture. At the same time, the other 50.1 percent of respondents merely said they'd consider making some adjustments in their pet parenting style before ending a relationship.

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Most pet owners allow their pets on their bed and other furniture.

Young couple relaxing on the bed with her pet dog
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Most pet owners are going the extra mile to ensure their pets are comfortable, even if you don't agree with their choices. After all, at the end of the day, nearly 73 percent of pet owners said they'd rather stay at home with their furry friends than go out with their human friends, according to the study from Angi.

They also found that 51 percent of pet parents ranked their pet's comfort in their home as extremely important, and a significant 87.8 percent said they considered their pet's happiness when they were looking for a home or apartment. "With pets taking priority over a night out with buddies and, sometimes, even a relationship, it's no surprise that pet parents are going out of their way to ensure their pets are comfortable," the experts at Angi said.

When breaking down the preferences of pet owners even further, it's clear how much our animals are often treated like members of the family. The study found that 77.6 percent of participants allow their pets to sleep in their beds with them and nearly 85 percent allow them to lay on the couch or a chair when it's time for an afternoon nap.

Experts say people are protective over their pets.

woman sleeping with dog on bed
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For non-pet owners, it might seem drastic for someone to want to dump their significant other over a difference in opinion on how an animal should be treated. But as Haley Riddle, LPCA, a licensed counselor who works for Mind Psychiatry in Houston, Texas, explains to Best Life, owners typically see their pet as the "companion and constant" in their life when they are not dating.

"This can create a sense of protection over their pets, including how they are to be treated," Riddle says. "When engaging in a new romantic relationship, if one's new partner is unable to accept the pet and their bond for what it is, this can cause issues in the relationship."

But most experts caution against letting this protectiveness prevent you from seeing your partner's perspective. "I would not recommend a breakup as a solution to different viewpoints on pet treatment or pet ownership styles. There's usually room to talk about it, to communicate, and to reason one another's ideas, practices, and opinions," says Liam Barnett, a dating expert and relationship coach. "However, when none of it works, then surely, a breakup would be the only option for that relationship."

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