>Loving like cats and dogs…

He loves her like a dog – he jumps on her when she gets home, and will not. let. go. until a sufficient amount of head-patting/scruff rubbing has commenced. If she’s too tired, he nips at her or barks sharply, demanding attention, until she snaps back or ultimately closes the door on him. She is less expressive, more cat-like in her approach. She takes her time, twitches her tail, maybe purrs inaudibly, and then casually saunters over to rub up against him. If he misses it, she typically stalks away and ignores him for the night – leaving him wondering what he did “wrong”.

Call it cats and dogs, love languages, whatever – the bottom line is that it can get really complicated, realllly fast, when our affection-style differs from our partner; it’s not just about how we play, but how we receive and respond that differ as well.

In the example above, the ‘dog’ expresses openly and likely yearns for similar, face-licking enthusiasm from their partner. The ‘cat’, conversely, approaches in more subtle ways, likely wanting their partner to respond with a well-placed caress, rather than… well, pawing. The ‘cat’s’ subtlety is completely lost on the ‘dog’, and the ‘dog’s’ play feels suffocating to the ‘cat’.

Whenever we don’t receive the type of affection we so desire from our partner, we often manage the resulting disappointment with some combination of silence and snappishness – biting sarcasm and withering stares. Very few of us have lived with examples of adults approaching each other and saying healthier things like, “Hey, I really wanted to cuddle, but you seem distant – what’s happening for you?” WHO SAYS THAT?! Nobody says that! Instead, we take it personally, yip, snap and bark – and then we retreat to our corners to lick our wounds.

We don’t approach our partner in the corner; not because we don’t love them, but because we’ve never seen it done! is usually happens when they come out of the corner; repair happens if we apologize and forgive effectively. If not, or if we just pretend that nothing ever happened and wait for things to go back to normal, then resentment builds. You think that your partner doesn’t care enough to repair, but it’s more likely that neither of you know how to have that conversation; seriously, it’s not like you are approaching to ask for “the talk” to happen, either.

The cat is not wrong, and neither is the dog – but there has to be a way to explain our differences to each other – how we need each other to behave, rather than silently stewing until you burst.

Are you a cat or a dog, or some other sort? Have you found ways to live happily with another animal? Where do you struggle? I’d love to hear!







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