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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Keep The Cat or The Boyfriend?

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Keep The Cat or The Boyfriend?

Dear Dr V

I’m about to move in with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost a year. I’m concerned about the lack of compromise in our relationship. I’ve already agreed to let him bring his entire collection of nerd stuff (comic books, toys, record albums – it’s a lot of stuff and takes up a lot of space!), but he wants me to get rid of my cat. He’s says he’s allergic, but it seems like his allergies aren’t ever really that bad when he’s over. I’ve had my cat longer than I’ve been with him, (ten years) and I love her very much. The idea of getting rid of her makes me cry.

What do I do?


Dear Erica,

I understand your stress and anxiety over this situation, and I hope I can provide you with an objective view that will help you and your boyfriend take this major step in your relationship. However, you may be less than thrilled about some of what I have to say; stick with me though, I promise I’m on your side and want you to get through this little test with your relationship intact.

It’s important to bear in mind just how big of a deal “moving in” is in a relationship. I think your heart realizes this, but your conscious mind may be lagging behind a bit. Many times, especially as we mature, moving in with our significant other is often seen as a dress rehearsal for marriage. Now I’m not saying you two are obliged to get married, or to even start thinking about getting married, but I do hope you recognize that by sharing a living space, you are both acknowledging a deeper level of commitment now exists. Perhaps, if you haven’t given this factor its due consideration, the underlying tension you (most likely also your boyfriend) feel about this upcoming move could be contributing to what is really a surface issue, that being the case of Comic Books Vs. The Cat.

I think you may need to adjust your understanding of what the word “compromise” means. To my way of understanding, it means being willing to give up or go without something for the sake of the greater good of those concerned. From your letter, it sounds like you may think compromise means your boyfriend unconditionally agreeing to your demands. That’s not compromise, that’s subjugation. As I’m sure you know, a healthy relationship should be one that exists with both partners in equal standing with each other, as opposed to the dynamic of master and servant you two seem to be headed for now.

It’s not really a compromise on your part to “allow” your boyfriend to bring his things in with him when he moves. That’s what moving in with each other is; your shared space should reflect aspects of both of you. Turn it around the other way. Now, I’m going to stereotype women just a tiny bit here, so please forgive me, but let’s assume that you had a collection of shoes that outnumbered the collections Carrie Bradshaw and Imelda Marcos combined. Needless to say, you’d want to bring your treasures with you, and if your boyfriend suggested you get rid of some of them due to how much space they took up, it would be out of the question. I would bet that your boyfriend has a similar feeling about his collection of toys and what not. Now, this doesn’t mean that all this stuff has to be front and center in the living room, so that when company is over they’re knocking Spider Man off his stand with a cocktail glass. However, if you can’t stand the thought of having any presence other than your own show in the place where you live, you may want to reconsider moving in. That’s not to say you should reconsider your relationship, bur rather to just ponder if the time is really right for you to take this next step.

Now, as far as the cat goes, I feel your pain. Believe me. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few wonderful cats as pets in the past, and there are still times I think about them. However, the truth of the matter is that people need to come before animals. You say that your boyfriend doesn’t seem to be suffering that much from his allergies when he’s over; have you asked him if he has to take allergy medication before he comes to see you? I don’t know if you’ve ever had to put up with allergies of your own, but I can also tell you from personal experience it is no fun. When my own allergies to pollen and other airborne yuckiness kick up I’m not the best person I can be. The physical symptoms wear me down and distract me to the point where I feel like everything’s in slow motion and my IQ has dropped below that of an apple. I realize this may upset you, but I don’t think anybody could ask their partner to willingly subject themselves to such physical discomfort when what you should do, if you care about this man, is find your cat another home. And, not to be needlessly grim, but ten years old is certainly getting up there for a cat. I hope she’s around for you to love as long as possible, but she will be taking the Big Cat Nap before too long. The idea of you left alone, mourning both your cat and the loss of your relationship with someone you obviously feel for strongly enough to move in with is just too sad for me to contemplate.

These are the choices we face when we choose to fall in love, be it with a kind hearted animal or a kindred human spirit that we just might want to spend the rest of our lives with. You will have to make the choice that rings truest in your heart, and I hope you have the clarity of thought and feeling to do so.

With Empathy,

Dr. V

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