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My boyfriend spends more time with my dog

Tagged as: Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (15 September 2018) 8 Answers - (Newest, 17 September 2018)
A female United States age 30-35, *he_Queen66 writes:

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year. We do live together and for the most part it’s great but, lately he hasn’t really been affectionate. I have 4 dogs but my one female he is particularly close too.

Well anyway my problem is that when we are spending time together he is constantly cuddling and petting her when we are spending time together. I am starting to feel like the dog brings him more comfort then I do and I don’t know why?

We even got into it a little bit last night because I recently moved the dog beds outta the bedroom and into the family room, he was very upset that I did not want her sleeping in the room anymore. I went as far to ask him if he felt like her not being in the room was another reason he was having trouble sleeping and he said maybe.

I don’t know what to do anymore I have said something to him but he says I shouldn’t be jealous of a dog but I just figured if we are spending time together shouldn’t it be about us since the dogs get attention throughout the day all day.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (17 September 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntMy whole response was an assessment and advice. The dog doesn't understand why you moved the bed. You did move in sooner than is best 95+% of the time. Your honeymoon phase is wearing off and you're either unintentionally irritating him or he's just not consistently affectionate.

Jealousy does appear in your post, whether you're aware of it or not. It reads as "why can't he focus on me, not the dog?" It appears that the dog helps him stay present and calm, after military service.

I understand why you feel the way you do, but maybe you should assess what you do and spend time together outside of the house without the dogs around to distract him. Just remember not to accidentally neglect the dogs because you're trying to get alone time with your boyfriend.

Put frankly, as long as he's not constantly having the dog in between you when you sit together, there's nothing wrong with having the dog next to him at the same time almost every time. The dog isn't taking away attention from you.

"I just figured if we are spending time together shouldn’t it be about us" and "he is constantly cuddling and petting her when we are spending time together. I am starting to feel like the dog brings him more comfort then I do". That says jealousy. Read it as though someone else wrote it.

Lots of people find more comfort in animals than people, even partners. It's just something you need to accept as something he does, as long as he still gives you enough attention, even if he's mindlessly stroking the dog too - something we can all do without taking a single brain cell away from something/someone else.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (17 September 2018):

You didn't say he was a combat veteran. He's using the dog as an anxiety-animal. It's purely therapeutic. If he has any post traumatic-stress, that might lower his passions towards intimacy; but he found something that calms his inner-demons.

I'm a veteran. I was in the medial corps. I worked in a veteran's hospital with veterans seriously injured or disabled in combat. I understand these guys and women.

They've been to hell and back; and it's hard to put in words the things going through their minds, and how troubled they are on the inside. They fight to remain cool and calm; so not to scare other people. They had to survive things you couldn't image; so being lovey-dovey and snugly, when you've spent years watching people die. It tends to take a little bit out of you. Many of the guys over in Afghanistan befriended stray dogs. They give them some semblance of home; and things before they had to witness so much carnage.

The dogs weren't hostile, they were friendly regardless. They didn't care where you were from. Many guys also worked with combat dogs. They're like comrades and they're soldiers too! Everyone in the battalion cared for those dogs!

I'm not going to apologize for my response. You can take it or leave it. You're not exactly coming across very pleasantly yourself. You can add whatever you like to smooth over what appears to be retaliation for his lack of affection; but the truth usually comes-out in the first post. The added details did help in this case.

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland +, writes (17 September 2018):

aunt honesty agony auntMost off us made that assumption because off how you wrote your post. That is all we have to go by to make a decision. Off course nobody knows your life. We advice the best that we can, if we are wrong then yes say so but do it kindly!

You say you are not jealous off your dogs, but read through your post again and it appears that you are. If you are having issues with your partner then write that and don't even mention the dogs. I know personally if I was having trouble in my marriage, I wouldn't even consider writing about our dogs because they still get the love and attention from us. You say that you are not jealous off your dogs but if you read back on your post you mention that he tells you not to be jealous but you explain why you are. So you can see why people are going to get confused. Also hopefully you gradually let the dogs move from rooms as yes it can be distressing for them when they are used to being in the same room as you. But I assume you did do it gradually when you say you rescue animals then I am guessing you done it properly without any distress to the animals. But you have to see from the way you wrote your post why it was picked up wrongly.

Either way yes it is an advice forum. My advice would be that you both need to sit and talk. You need to tell him how you feel and that you are not getting what you need from him, and then listen to how he is feeling. Unfortunately love is not enough to keep a relationship going strong. Communication is key here so my advice would be to sit down a day you are both free relax, maybe open a bottle off wine and just chat.

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A female reader, The_Queen66 United States +, writes (17 September 2018):

The_Queen66 is verified as being by the original poster of the question

The_Queen66 agony auntJust an update for everybody it was not spite or punishment moving the dogs out of the room. The move out of the room was to fit more furniture that he wanted in the room. So since this is an advice forum please try to remember people this is supposed to be an advice forum. People come on here to express their feelings, vent, and get advice(Well at least that’s why I am on here)not judge people I don’t even know. So Youcannotbeserious thanks for not chastising as these other people have. My boyfriend is a combat veteran so yeah he does have a lot of issues which I have stood by his side for. As well as his rehab. I love this man very much. I am not jealous of any of my dogs. I just want the time that’s spent with me, with me. Also, I am an avid dog lover and rescuer of all sorts even rats. So I find it amazing how all of you would think I would be punishing my dogs or moving them out of spite. My dogs are the only consistent thing in my life. I am a mature logical woman please don’t presume to think you know my entire life situation.

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland +, writes (17 September 2018):

aunt honesty agony auntIt was very immature and cruel to move the dogs out off your bedroom to spite your boyfriend. That just allows the dogs to think that they are getting punished all because you are jealous off a dog!

I don't think the dog is the problem here, I think it is that you are not getting the attention you want from this relationship. If that is the case then you both need to sit down and talk about it instead off punishing the poor dogs!

You need to talk and ask him why he is not being affectionate anymore, and you need to listen to what he has to say. Do you still show him affection? When you do does he ignore it? Or are you expecting him to make all the first moves? You mention they are YOUR dogs however if you are both living together he probably sees them as his pets as well, and I can see why he would be upset that you choose to remove them from the bedroom for no reason. Personally my dogs sleep in our bedroom as well, and I think they would be so confused if I put them both in to a room on there own. Now don't get me wrong at times they go down to the sitting room to sleep if the choose to do so, but I would never lock them from the bedroom (also there bedroom) because I was jealous. It is immature and spiteful and quite petty.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (16 September 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntFirst thing’s first: moving the dog bed punishes the dog because they don’t understand you’re doing it to punish your boyfriend.

Secondly: you rushed into things if you’re already living together and have only been together for a year.

Thirdly: the honeymoon phase is wearing off. You’re irritating him and being demanding. He’s either affectionate, but you’re frustrating him, so he doesn’t want to or he isn’t affectionate towards girlfriends when things settle down.

What do you do to be affectionate without expecting it back? Do you nag him about the dog?

I understand needing affection, but maybe you’re pushing him away or you’re just not compatible because he isn’t into ongoing affection with people.

Last note: leave your dog out of your issues. Don’t be jealous or resentful of the dog, just focus on your relationship.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (16 September 2018):

The dog isn't your problem. Just reading the post shows how irritable and mean-spirited you are. You're past the honeymoon-stage of your relationship. Relationships become mature and well-established. You're two mature-adults.

Try doing random sweet things to draw affection out of him; instead of trying to force it!

It's difficult to be romantic with someone when they're petty and jealous of a dog. Now read the part where you mentioned you moved the dog-beds out the bedroom. What was your motive behind that? Spite!

Maybe you haven't been particularly nice; and being romantic isn't as easy as it previously was. The post came across like you were describing a spoiled-child!

You can't "demand" someone to be affectionate. You get it by being kind, considerate, and loving. Showing warmth and tenderness.

Aggressive-behavior only provokes aggressive-behavior in return. Being mean and petty is a turnoff.

Even animals know that!

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (15 September 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI don't think your dog is the problem here. I think the real problem is that your boyfriend no longer shows YOU any affection, hence him showing affection to the dog magnifies this.

Maybe he finds it easier to show affection to an animal than to another human being? Have you asked him? People who have trouble establishing and/or maintaining relationships often find animals far easier to "connect" with and find bonding with an animal far less complicated than a similar connection with another person.

Was the removal of the dogs' beds from your bedroom your "punishment" of him for being so close to one of your dogs? I ask because I assume the dog beds had been in the bedroom long enough for the dogs to get used to sleeping in there with you and also because it upset your boyfriend.

You say your dogs "get attention throughout the day all day" but, in my experience, this is seldom the case. Even if people do not work (I am assuming here one or both of you do work), house work and every day life often takes priority over spending quality time with resident dog(s).

My other thought here is that your relationship has actually run its course and your boyfriend is simply "filling his time" with your dog.

I think you need to discuss this calmly and gently with your boyfriend, trying not to sound controlling or jealous.

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