My Dog is Ruining My Sex Life
Sexual Wellness

My Dog is Ruining My Sex Life

06/12/2023
Dear Dame is Dame's sex-positive and judgment-free advice column answered by our panel of sexperts. Submit your questions here.

 

Dear Dame,

I love my dog but he is super clingy — he follows me everywhere and gets separation anxiety whenever I leave my apartment. This wouldn’t be a problem except I’m trying to date. Whenever I’m out I worry about my dog and if I bring someone home I just know he’s going to bark at them. And forget about sex — I’m sure it’s creepy to have my dog watching and wanting to share the bed (if he isn’t barking, that is). The anxiety I have around my role as a pet owner is starting to take over and become “baggage” that I feel like I have to disclose to potential romantic partners. How can I navigate these conversations in a way that won’t be a total turn-off or should I just resign myself to a life of spinsterhood?

-On a Short Leash

Dear On a Short Leash,

Believe it or not, plenty of people have both fussy, high-maintenance pets and adoring romantic partners. When someone’s infatuated with another person, it’s surprising how many inconveniences they’ll overlook. I’d bet you some people would be so charmed by your dog’s cuteness (as well as yours!) that they’d view his antics as endearing. Or, they won’t even notice there’s a problem. Often, our pets are much more of a hassle to us than they are to other people. 

I used to think I couldn’t have anyone over again after I got cats because they got fur and litter all over my bed and furniture. But whenever I expressed this insecurity to friends who came over, they’d say they didn’t even notice it. One even said she was surprised that someone with cats would have such clean furniture. I have a friend whose cat also gets fur all over her bed. She still has guys over all the time, and none of them has commented on it.

I know your situation is different, though, particularly with regard to the issue of separation anxiety. I imagine this is a problem you’d like to solve for reasons beyond your dating life, but when it comes to dates, you can start by planning quick dates close to where you live. You might explain your situation in advance so potential dates understand why you can’t travel far or meet for long (at least at first). If someone doesn’t empathize with that, this is a sign that they’re not super considerate. You could also invite someone for a walk and bring your dog with you. Some people will love that you come with a pet.

If you got your dog recently, the separation anxiety might go away in time, or you may simply start to feel more confident that your dog will be fine left alone despite his anxiety. Or, you might consider getting a second dog to keep him company.  

If you invite someone over and your dog is being a troublemaker, try to have a sense of humor about it. Perhaps, whether they can laugh at it as well — and whether they are kind to your dog despite the annoyances he causes — can be a test of how suitable a partner they are for you. Think about it: Would you want to date someone who turns cold toward you over a loud and clingy pet? Would you act that way toward someone you were dating?

On dates, try to stay in the moment and don’t feel like your dog is some bomb you have to drop. If anything, your anxiety around your dog might worry someone else, but if you’re comfortable with the situation, they’ll feel that, too. If it gets to the point that you want to have someone over, you can casually say, “I apologize in advance if my dog barks at you; he can be kind of dramatic.” Same thing when things start to turn sexual: “FYI, I don’t know how my dog is going to handle this buuuut we may have trouble keeping the bed to ourselves.” If you say it in a playful, lighthearted way, they’ll probably just find it funny. 

If your apartment has multiple rooms, you can keep the dog in another room during sexy times — the barking may become less distracting when you’re engrossed in the moment — or perhaps do it while he’s eating so he’ll be quiet momentarily. Or, if sex simply does not work with your dog around, you can plan to mostly have sex at your partner’s place. A caring partner will work with you to find a way to accommodate both you and your pup. 

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