Looking for a date? Your pet may be your guide

A new survey of Australians looking for love has revealed how your pet may be helping – or hindering – your ability to find a date.

Which is more popular on the dating scene – dogs or cats? Rescues or pedigrees? People or pets?

These were among the questions that research commissioned by dating site eharmony asked 2,000 Australian adults in April 2022.

And the findings may have a direct impact on how lucky you are in love.

Pet owners more stable, not ‘more attractive’

In a shock to many animal lovers, having pets does not necessarily make you more attractive to prospective partners. And neither does including them in your dating profile.

A smidgen under half (49 per cent) admitted to being more attracted to people sharing their life with pets. Even fewer (42 per cent) suggested having your pet on your profile was a good idea.

Both figures were higher than the number of respondents who actually do so. Only 23 per cent of singles admitted their pet is featured in their dating profile.

However, having pets was viewed as a sign of someone being good relationship material. Some 72 per cent of respondents believe pets contribute to healthy relationships.

Roughly three in four Aussies (74 per cent) said they feel it is extremely important that a potential partner is compatible with their pet. Yet less than half (47 per cent) would actually end a relationship if this wasn’t the case.

Favourite pets on the dating scene

Dating and pets - Cute gay couple with a bengal cat
Cats are popular with singles – but not as popular as dogs.

While dog and cat lovers have long been at odds over which rules the home, those on the dating scene appear to have a clear favourite.

Respondents were asked to select from a list of animals about which would make a potential partner more attractive to them.

The poll found dogs to be the clear winners. Three-quarters ranked our canine friends as the most attractive pet for a potential partner. Cats came a distant second with only 47 per cent ranking them an attractive pet.

Surprisingly, birds took out third spot on the favourite list. One in five (21 per cent) respondents said they find favour with feathers.

Rabbits rounded out the top four spots, with 16 per cent.

Least favourite pets when dating

Dating and pets - reptiles among the least favourite pets with Aussie singles
Sorry reptile lovers – you may find it harder to get a date.

People unlucky in matters of the heart, take note – it could be your pet that is turning off prospective partners.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, crocodiles ranked as the biggest turn-off, with 55 per cent ranking them as their least favourite type of pet (although we have to wonder of the likelihood of finding someone who does have ‘Snappy’ in a pond out the back!).

However other types of reptiles were also among the biggest turn-offs. Snakes were second-least favourite, nominated by 49 per cent of respondents, and lizards on 27 per cent. Rats (42 per cent) and possums (27 per cent) also made the unpopular list.

Reptile owners were deemed more likely to have undesirable traits, including rudeness (41 per cent), shallowness (40 per cent) and selfishness (37 per cent).

Adoption is sexier

Potentially it reflects a perception of someone having higher levels of compassion, empathy and conscientiousness. Or simply that they did a good deed for another living thing in need.

Whatever the reason, most people on the dating scene (62 per cent) believe that adopted or rescued pets make a potential partner more attractive.

Be kind – to everyone

The fundamental lesson from this research, according to eharmony psychologist Sharon Draper, is that most people view how you treat your pet as a strong indicator of how you would treat them in a relationship.

“We know that compatible matches are the secret to long-term relationship success an pets can be a great indicator of this,” Ms Draper says.

Dating and pets - interracial couple with pet rabbit
Pet rabbits are popular among Australian singles.

“Beyond that, more than three-quarters of participants said pet ownership signified a person’s ability to handle commitment.”

Despite this, Ms Draper warned that pets aren’t always seen as a positive on the dating scene.

“While animal companions were positively perceived by most online daters, there was a significant proportion (30%) 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,” she explains.

“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 concludes: “Unsurprisingly, our fur babies 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.”

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