Research suggests it’s pets before partners

Popular dating site eharmony has been digging to find out more about the relationship between pets and dating.

Interestingly, one in two Aussies (49 per cent) say they’re more attracted to pet owners, with furry friends on dating profiles getting the thumbs up from almost half the population (42 per cent).

Including your pet with you in your dating profile picture is typically a winning combination. But now it’s been proven that showing off a pet in your profile can lead to an increase in desirability ratings and help to feather a truly compatible love nest.

Pets and compatibility

The eharmony survey found that half (49 per cent) of online daters were more attracted to people with pets, particularly if the potential partner owned the same kind of animal as them.

Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) think pets contribute to a healthy relationship, which is likely to be because they reflect compatible values. Pets are also associated with high levels of affection and empathy, which are key ingredients for sustaining relationships.

Indeed, if a couple has pets who don’t get along, almost half of Aussies (47 per cent) would be prepared to walk away.

It’s not surprising then that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of pet owners say it’s extremely important for a potential partner to get on with their four-legged friend.

Beyond romantic compatibility, almost two-thirds of Aussies (64 per cent) look to a person’s choice of pet to assess their potential partner’s suitability. Overall, dog and cat ownership are associated with more positive traits, including dependability (49 per cent for dogs and 23 per cent for cats), loyalty (55 per cent and 22 per cent), good levels of affection (47 per cent and 30 per cent) and intellect (43 per cent and 28 per cent).

There were negative vibes for reptile-lovers though, with the majority of respondents associating cold-blooded pets, and their owners, with the traits of rudeness (41 per cent), shallowness (40 per cent) and selfishness (37 per cent).

Most and least attractive pets

Top five most attractive pets

1Dog (75%)
2Cat (47%)
3Bird (21%)
4Rabbit (15%)
5Lizard (6%)

Top five deal-breaker pets

1Crocodile (55%)
2Snake (49%)
3Rat (42%)
4Possum (27%)
5Lizard (27%)

What’s more, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those surveyed said having an adopted or rescued (rather than purchased) pet makes a potential partner seem more attractive – possibly because they reflect higher levels of empathy and conscientiousness.

Pets can also boost desirability on dating profiles. While only about a quarter (23 per cent) of singles admitted to showing off their pet in their profile, about half of Aussies (44 per cent) admit profile pictures that include a match’s pet makes them more attractive.

What the expert says

eharmony psychologist Sharon Draper says it is particularly interesting that the majority (81 per cent) of those surveyed felt how someone treats their pet is a strong indicator of how they would be in a relationship.

“At eharmony, we know that compatible matches are the secret to long-term relationship success and pets can be a great indicator of this. Beyond that, more than three-quarters of participants said pet ownership signified a person’s ability to handle commitment,” Ms Draper said.

“While animal companions were positively perceived by most online daters, there was a significant proportion (30 per cent) of survey participants who said pets can make relationships harder – perhaps causing disagreements about training, or maybe sparking jealousy over who’s getting the larger share of the owner’s affection.

“These challenges that our furry friends pose to our relationships can also be seen as an opportunity to check in regarding your values and see if you’re on the same page. Should your pet sleep in your bedroom? How will you train them and how will you discipline them when they’ve been naughty?” Ms Draper added.

“Unsurprisingly, our pets act much like real babies when it comes to testing our relationships, but also providing an opportunity to know your partner on a deeper level, and to find joy and companionship with a new member of the family.”

Key findings

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of Aussies believe it’s extremely important for potential partners to be compatible with their pet.

However, if a couple has incompatible pets, almost half (47 per cent) would be prepared to call time on the relationship.

Dogs (75 per cent) and cats (47 per cent) top the rankings for the most attractive pet for a potential partner to own, followed– surprisingly – by birds (21 per cent).

Singles with rescue pets are more desirable than those who buy pets through breeders or pet shops.

Do you have any pets? What would you do if a new partner’s pet didn’t get along with yours? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Top trending dog and cat names and breeds

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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