Do You Love Your Pet More Than Anyone Else in the World?

Have you ever felt misunderstood when talking about the love you feel for your pet? Have you come to feel that they're your main support? We talk about these issues in the context of mental health.
Do You Love Your Pet More Than Anyone Else in the World?
Sharon Laura Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Laura Capeluto.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Think about your pet. If they’re sitting by your side, look at them for a moment. Remember when they first came into your life: what did they look like? What were your first days together like? Think about how they’re there for you when you’re sad. Your games and walks together. Think about their comfort on those gray afternoons when you’re feeling sad and nostalgic about what’s gone and fearful of what’s to come.

This is why so many of us find it so easy to establish deep and special relationships with our pets. So much so that they quickly become part of the family.

However, those who’ve never had a pet don’t understand these strong bonds. In fact, they find it odd and even ridiculous that someone feels a greater degree of empathy toward animals than other people. Nevertheless, science explains that it isn’t only possible, but logical too.

Choosing a pet over a partner

Your pet’s love is deep and unconditional, a quality that’s harder to find in people. For this reason, it’s not surprising that many choose their furry friend over their partner.

However, although this kind of love is a source of joy, it can also arouse jealousy in certain relationships, and can even become the reason for a breakup. What’s more, a study conducted by Link AKC found that 80 percent of participants would rule out any potential mate if they didn’t get along with their pet.

The same study showed that more than 50 percent of people confessed to rejecting social invitations to spend more time with their pets or to avoid leaving them alone at home. Furthermore, nearly 85 percent saw an improvement in their mental and emotional health since their pet came into their lives.

Cat on a person's legs
Some people choose their pet over any other relationship because they consider their love to be unconditional.

Love between beings of different species

Humanizing animals isn’t recommended. In fact, what makes the link between animals and humans so special is the fact that they’re a different species from ours. The love you feel for your dog or cat is simple because they’re also simple beings. On the other hand, the love you feel for other people reflects a much more complex issue.

According to Freud, we love animals so much because we understand their love for us as total and unconditional. They do it regardless of our appearance, economic position, or personality.

Wanting your pet to live forever

The average lifespan of our four-legged friends is twelve years, which seems a really unfair reality. It means the time we share with them never seems to be enough. Undoubtedly, the loss of a pet is one of the most painful moments that those of us who choose to share our lives with them will ever experience. Their absence makes us feel sad and completely desolated.

As a matter of fact, the emotional impact of your pet’s passing often equals or exceeds the intense grief you experience at the death of a family member or friend. Indeed, the loss of anyone who’s significant in your life (regardless of the species), means you’ll have to go through a grieving process to process the loss.

Man petting a dog
The loss of a pet can have a great emotional impact.

Empathy toward animals

Jack Levin, Arnold Arluke, and Leslie Irvine conducted a study focused on understanding why some people feel a special affinity with dogs that they don’t have with other humans.

The researchers aimed to discover if people are more distressed by animal abuse or abuse of another human being. Their results concluded that people tend to worry more about the pain of animals than humans of all ages, except children. More empathy was shown toward children, puppies, and adult dogs than adult humans. Therefore, age makes a difference in respect of empathy toward human victims, but not for animal victims (in this case, dogs).

This is because we perceive both puppies and adult animals, as well as babies and small children, as vulnerable and defenseless beings. Our empathy increases when the victim is unable to defend themselves and depends on the protection of someone else.

As you can see, it’s perfectly natural to love your pet and worry about their well-being, even to the extent of prioritizing their interests over yours. That said, you should bear in mind that, although it’s true that the bond you have with your pet is really healthy, it could mask a problem if you find it’s becoming an obstacle to you enjoying a good social life. In this case, we’d be speaking of an emotional dependency that, in the long run, wouldn’t be particularly healthy.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gómez, L. F., Atehortua, C. G., & Orozco, S. C. (2007). La influencia de las mascotas en la vida humana. Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Pecuarias20(3), 377-386.
  • Levin, J., Arluke, A., & Irvine, L. (2017). Are people more disturbed by dog or human suffering?: Influence of victim’s species and age. Society & Animals25(1), 1-16.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.