3 Signs You & Your Partner Are Ready To Become Pet Parents Together

Getting a pet is a huge step to take in a relationship. It means that you and your partner are ready to say, "Yes, we can share the responsibilities of sustaining another creature's life," which — while wonderful and exciting — is no small feat (I say this as a person who has killed no fewer than three orchids in the last six months). And, as Spiderman perpetually reminds us, "With great power comes great responsibility." So, how do you know you're ready to get a dog with your boyfriend or girlfriend and take on that great power/responsibility?

That is the question, my friends. Because pets make breakups so much more challenging.

A friend of mine recently broke up with her long-term boyfriend and told me without a hint of sarcasm in her voice that she misses his dog far more than any other part of their relationship. And I totally get it. First and foremost, animals are better than people (if Disney movies have taught me anything, it's that). But unlike sharing custody of your mutual friends, it's harder to hang out with your ex's pup post-breakup.

Let's say you and bae adopt a pet together, and then — god forbid — break up. Who will rub the spots behind Fido's ears and tell him he's a good boy in your absence?! Would custody lawyers have to get involved?

These are the types of questions I never want you to have to answer.

If you're thinking about getting a pet with your SO, here are three major signs that you two are ready to take the plunge, head to the local animal shelter (Adopt, Don't Shop, y'all!), and bring a furry new friend into your lives — according to couples who have been there.

You've Discussed Your Future Together

You don't have to have exchanged rings before adopting a pet with your SO, but it's super important that you two have had conversations about what the future looks like and confirmed your commitment to each other in some way, shape, or form before getting a pet together.

"My boyfriend and I had mapped out our future by the time we decided to get a dog," says Alexandra, 25. "We weren't in any rush to get engaged or married, but we knew that we wanted to settle down and buy a house in our town in the next few years, and we'd already been living together for about a year when we decided to adopt our Lab. That was about two years ago, and we just closed on a house. So far, so good!"

You Totally Trust Your Partner

This advice is applicable to pretty much any major step you'd take in a relationship, but it's especially true if you and your partner are considering getting a pet. If you don't feel that you can trust your boyfriend of girlfriend implicitly, your relationship may not be strong enough to handle getting a pet together.

Take it from Tori, age 24, who'd been thinking of moving into an apartment and adopting a dog with her boyfriend a few years back. "This was back when Snapchat still showed your 'Top Friends,' and I noticed that there were frequently questionable girls on his Top Friends list," she explained. "So yeah, we broke up way before signing a lease together, and thank gosh. My new rule of thumb is this: If he walks out of the room and you have the desire to reach for his phone and creep, he’s probably doing something wrong to make you feel that way. And you definitely don't want to get a dog with a guy like that."

On the flip side, if you never have to worry about your SO being shady, secretive, or closed-off, it's a solid sign that you can also rely on them to split pet food costs, take your pup out when promised, and hopefully avoid those custody lawyers.

You Can Both Handle The Financial Responsibility

This last one might be the most important: Before you even think about getting a pet with your partner, make sure both of your bank accounts can manage it. Because between vet bills, pet food, grooming appointments, and potentially a dog walker, pets (especially dogs) are a major investment.

"I think the biggest reason my husband and I waited so long to get our cat was the expense," says Elaine, age 25. "We'd been saving for our wedding and paying off student loans (still doing that, TBH), and we just couldn't afford to feed and care for anyone but ourselves for a while. And, especially for unmarried couples, I can see fights popping up all of the time about who should be paying for what."

All of that said, if you and your partner are fully committed to one another, trusting and trustworthy, and financially stable — congrats, guys! You're ready to bring home a pup (or cat or bird or iguana, whatever floats your boat!) of your own. I bet you two will make great pet parents.

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