I’m a woman in my late 20s and I’ve been dating a new partner for a few months now. Everything is going great, except for one small issue: She refuses to kick her dog out of bed when we have sex. I love animals and have several cats myself, but I like to think that I have healthy boundaries when it comes to their proximity to me when I’m either masturbating or having partnered sex. Snuggling in bed is fine, but as soon as things get sexy, they get delegated to the floor. If they’re quiet and unobtrusive, they stay; if they cause a ruckus or repeatedly try to get back on the bed, they get kicked out of the room entirely. My new girlfriend’s dog is small, sure, but so is her bed. When I suggest putting the dog out of the room, my girlfriend pouts about “how cute she is” and tries to guilt me for wanting her to go. It’s getting ridiculous, and I’m starting to avoid sleeping over her house for this exact reason. Am I being unreasonable?
You’re not being unreasonable.
Look, I get it. Younger generations aren’t reproducing at the same rates as past generations (thanks, economy!), and as we struggle to find more affordable outlets for our maternal and paternal instincts, pet ownership has skyrocketed. Not only are more people owning pets, but more people are treating their pets very literally as children. We’re feeding them more expensive food, buying them trendy clothes, taking them to salon appointments, and prioritizing their training, socialization, health and comfort more than ever. Plus, with more than 25% of the American adult population suffering from some type of mental health disorder (according to the American Psychological Association – Tinyurl.com/y6u3swty), emotional support animals are so popular that airlines have had to work species-specific bans into their regulations (emotional support peacocks, anyone?).
Although tone is often lost in the written word, you’ll have to trust that I’m answering you a bit ironically, as I myself have been known to behave as a modern day Dr. Doolittle. My household currently boasts five dogs, two cats, three snakes, a tarantula, and a sugar glider. I’ve always preferred the company of animals to people, and I spent my teenage years volunteering at animal shelters and railing against vivisection. Even so! Just as I strive to exhibit and maintain healthy boundaries with the human beings in my life, I insist on doing the same with my animals. All of the dogs in our home are crate-trained, and while there are certain extenuating circumstances where they are permitted on the beds (fireworks displays and occasional solo TV marathons among them), they have designated places to sleep that are not with us. As – IMHO – it should be.
Now, there are many possible explanations for your new girlfriend’s attachment to her dog in her bed. Perhaps she was single for a long period of time before she met you and her dog brought her lonely heart some much-needed companionship, so much so that she’s become reliant on its constant presence. Perhaps her dog is indeed an emotional support or service animal and needs to be by her side in the event it has to perform a life-saving task or alert someone nearby to a medical emergency.
Perhaps this is the very first animal she’s ever had, and she thinks that the only way to be an ethical, compassionate pet owner is to make every single area of her life accessible to it. Perhaps her and this dog are in an illicit romantic relationship with one another and are hoping to seduce you together into an interspecies non-monogamous triad.
I’m sorry, but even if one or more of those are true, there is no sane reason to keep your dog on the bed while you’re fucking. Especially if it visibly creeps your partner(s) out and results in you having much less sex.
So what do you do? Sit your beau down and tell her how you feel with total clarity and confidence. Don’t apologize for wanting some space between you and her dog when you’re craving intimacy, and don’t feel the need to defend yourself for needing this very understandable boundary. If the result of your honesty is your girlfriend balking and clutching her precious tighter, I recommend saving yourself further frustration and finding a new partner who loves animals … but not so much that they become blind to them sabotaging their interpersonal relationships.
- Andre Shakti is a queer journalist, educator, performer, activist, and professional slut living in the DMV. She is devoted to normalizing alternative desires, de-stigmatizing sex workers and their clients, andnot taking herself too seriously. Andre wrestles mediocre white men into submission and writes about the resistance for Rewire, Thrillist, MEL, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Autostraddle, and more. She frequently lectures,coaches and advises on the intersecting issues of sexual health, politics and pleasure, race, trauma, gender diversity, sex worker rights, non-monogamy, and queerness. When not working, Andre can typically be found marathoning "Law & Order: SVU" under a chaotic pile of partners and pitbulls, and yes, she knows how problematic that show is. In addition to her work with Baltimore OUTloud, Andre is the reigning polyamory pundit at her biweekly non-monogamy advice column "I Am Poly(amorous) & So Can You!", which you can visit - and submit questions to! - via IAmPoly.net. She encourages you to connect with her on Facebook via "Andre Shakti" and follow her NSFW exploits on Twitter via @andreshakti!