What does sleeping with your pet say about your romantic relationships?

We live in an unprecedented time in American history. Human-pet relations are flourishing and the term “pet” may now actually be a grossly inaccurate description of our four-legged friends. In a recent poll, 95% of pet owners consider their pets to be a part of the family. They don’t pay rent or clean up after themselves (which sounds like some adults we know), but they still get the familial benefits – birthday celebrations, home cooked meals (31% of pet owners admitted to cooking for their pets), and designer clothes. As Drake once said, what a time to be alive!

Illustration of family members near pets

Another cuddly consequence of human-pet intimacy is that more pets than ever are joining their human companions for bedtime. At Mattress Advisor, we wanted to see if co-sleeping with your pets has an impact on romantic relationships. If you let your pet crawl under the covers with you, are you more likely to get hurt in a relationship or more likely to be the one to break it off?

We surveyed more than 1,000 people with pets and asked if they let their furry friends sleep in bed with them. We then asked a simple follow-up question: In past relationships, who ended things most often? Was it you or your partner? We compared the numbers to figure out the relationship between love and letting pets sleep in the bed.

Here’s what we found.

Letting your pet (or your partner) win

If you let your pet sleep in your bed even though you don’t want them to, you are more likely to get hurt in a relationship.

If you don’t establish clear expectations with your partners or pets – such as not wanting pets in the bed – you’re in danger of unmet expectations and becoming hurt or dissatisfied in your relationship. You need to be willing to enforce healthy boundaries. Additionally, if you’re passive about making your expectations clear, then you’re less likely to break off a romantic relationship when it’s time to move on, which means you’ll remain in an unsatisfactory relationship longer.

A survey of respondents who let a pet sleep in the bed, even though they didn’t want to

It’s important to note, a pet can end up in the bed not because an individual is passive, but because he or she loses the argument or decides to put a pet or partner’s needs above his or her own. But the principle stands. These individuals have an unmet desire and expectation which lends itself to bitterness and hurt.

Giving your pet the occasional free pass

If you sometimes let your pet sleep in your bed, relationship endings are usually mutual.

People who sometimes allow their pets in bed understand there is a time to hold and a time to let go. They’re good at reading situations. They recognize that sometimes it’s totally fine to have their pup or kitty crawl into bed with them, and other times it’s not so desirable.

If these people can recognize an appropriate time to let their pet sleep with them, they’re more likely to know when to hold on to a relationship and when to let go. And when it’s time to let go, these people are usually reasonable and more able to get mutual buy-in for the decision.

A survey of respondents who sometimes let a pet sleep in the bed

Now, we need to call a spade a spade. No matter how “mutual” a breakup is, someone always has to initiate the conversation. In addition to recognizing when it’s time to call it quits on a relationship, a person who sometimes allows their pet in the bed is good at compromise and can see the pros and cons in most situations. So, even when they’re on the receiving end of the breakup, they’re more likely to see the other side and agree with it.

Fur-babies over everything

If you always let your pet sleep in your bed, you are more likely to break off a relationship.

There are a host of reasons why people let their pets sleep in their bed: comfort, warmth, companionship to name a few. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine even suggest that the rhythmic breathing of pets can be relaxing and conducive to sleep. No wonder they’re invited with open arms to cuddle under the covers.

These types of pet owners have a more intimate relationship with their pets, so they’re more likely to choose their pets over their partners if trouble in paradise ever arises. In a Rover.com survey, 47% of dog owners admit they’d find it harder to leave their dog for a week than their human partner.

Fifty-four percent of those with a significant other would end their relationship because their dog didn’t approve of their partner. In a poll conducted by the AP and petside.com, 14% of people admitted that they’d break up with a human before they parted with a pet.

Graphic showing a dog disapproving of a significant other

But perhaps the biggest factor is overall life satisfaction and contentment. People who have a great relationship with their pets – one in which the pet always sleeps with them in bed – are more likely to be content with the companionship their pets provide. If things go awry with their partners, they have a pet that provides the same (maybe better!) snuggles, warmth, and comfort, so it’s easier to call it quits on a relationship without the fear of missing what that relationship provides.

A purr-fect relationship or cat-astrophe waiting to happen?

Pets are a gift we don’t deserve. Sure, they’ll occasionally tear through a roll of toilet paper or leave a stinky surprise under your bed, but they’ll never cheat on you and they’ll love your in-laws better than you can. Whether they sleep with you is up to you and your partner. There’s no wrong answer! We just suggest being aware of how it might impact your future romantic relationships.


methodology

We surveyed 1,005 Americans from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a virtual labor market for online Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs).

Sources

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