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How can I help my girlfriend with two dogs we just got after breakup?
September 18, 2013 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to break up with my girlfriend of two years who I live with. We've had intermittent fights of me not being happy where it was going. The latest one happened just last week, the day before we picked up two dogs. She's going to keep the dogs (hard decision for me) if we break up, but what can I do to help? I feeling like I'm abandoning her with kids we just had.

It just recently came out that for almost our entire two year relationship, she's been much more in love with me than I have her. I don't think she's the girl I've been looking for, and after two years of thinking that I will fall more in love (she's a great person), I haven't. It's been challenging for me .I've pulled the "why aren't we more compatible" card too many times) and challenging for her (she's had to deal with the person she's loves so much not reciptrocating her feelinfs, even though we get along well a lot of the time).

At 30 years of age, I still have a lot of emotion maturing to do (she pulled, with a great deal of pain, most of my problems with the relationship out of me during fights while I stumbled along trying to find the right words and my own feelings). Needless to say, she's going to be very upset, and I'm going to be very upset, and I feel terrible my lack of self-realization has and is going to hurt her so much.

We just picked the dogs up maybe 10 days ago. Both are good dogs but neither is trained. We cant' separate them as they were strays together and kennel mates together; she should keep them, even though I really want to, but I know the correct thing to do is let her have them. She even told me during one of our post-fight fights that she wouldn't have gotten two if she didn't think she could take care of them, even if she knows the situation is not ideal.

We just dropped $2k on both of them on a joint credit card. I plan on paying the entire amount off myself (it's my card) since I dragged her into this situation, and when we move out, I plan on asking her if I can take the dogs out while she is at work she I work days and she works nights. I pretty much want to do anything I can to help her, keeping in mind distance is going to be important in the healing process.

What else should I do? Dogs are expensive and time consuming and now she's going to have two. I suppose I should just ask her, but I wanted some advice so I can bring as much help to the table as possible.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Clean break: you both get on with your separate lives, she keeps the dogs if that's what you both agreed to and if you need a dog, there's plenty more waiting at the shelter.
posted by jamaro at 12:57 PM on September 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Maybe I missed something, but how do you know she is going to want both the dogs? I think this should be part of the break up convo.

She even told me during one of our post-fight fights that she wouldn't have gotten two if she didn't think she could take care of them, even if she knows the situation is not ideal.


She might change her mind post break up if these dogs are reminding her of her recent break up. Do you not want the dogs either?

In any case - discuss the break up first, dogs second. But it sounds like the question of what happens to the dogs is still up in the air. You can't just decide everything about the breakup ahead of time yourself.
posted by sweetkid at 1:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


We just picked the dogs up maybe 10 days ago. Both are good dogs but neither is trained. We cant' separate them as they were strays together and kennel mates together; she should keep them, even though I really want to, but I know the correct thing to do is let her have them. She even told me during one of our post-fight fights that she wouldn't have gotten two if she didn't think she could take care of them, even if she knows the situation is not ideal.

Why is that the correct thing to do, if you payed for them? You haven't even had them two weeks, it's not like either of you guys have had time to really bond with them.

when we move out, I plan on asking her if I can take the dogs out while she is at work she I work days and she works nights. I pretty much want to do anything I can to help her, keeping in mind distance is going to be important in the healing process.

So you want to be involved in her life and have access to her house every day, but you want to "maintain distance." Those things are totally incompatible. How is she supposed to get over this thing if she knows you're in her house playing with her dogs every day?

You can't just decide everything about the breakup ahead of time yourself.

SECONDED.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


What else should I do? Dogs are expensive and time consuming and now she's going to have two.

My mom has a general policy of dumping the miserable relationship and keeping the dogs. She has a veritable pack now, and finds them to be a lot less expensive, time-consuming, and hurtful than the men she adopted them with. FWIW.

You've treated this lady pretty shabbily, she knows it, has known it awhile, and adopted those dogs knowing she'd probably raise 'em alone. So, let her.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:01 PM on September 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Even though you paid $2,000 for them, you've apparently agreed that they're her dogs now. If you think it would be better for your soon-ex that you help with the dogs, ask once. Once. Give her the opportunity to ask you, but don't turn it into a thing where you nag her about the dogs. You made a choice, you stick by that choice.

This is an exercise in maturity for you: you are going to sever; this means that you sever.
posted by boo_radley at 1:02 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would ask her very neutrally what she'd like to do with the dogs. And listen. Because it's not clear that you know 100% that she wants to keep them both even if you aren't in the picture, or that she'll want to if they develop behavioral/veterinary issues. And leaping to that assumption could end up dumping the responsibility solely on her when it's really the both of yours.

So post-breakup-initiation, "I know this may be difficult to sort out, but do you have a preference as to what happens to dog X and Y?" Not "So you want the dogs, yes?"

I don't think you stopping by to take the dogs out sometimes is a good plan. Your girlfriend will need distance from you. If she does want to keep the dogs, I agree that it's a nice thing to do to eat the cost in having purchased them.
posted by vegartanipla at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't assume anything about the dogs and I'd leave it up to her. If she wants the dogs, let her have the dogs. But once she knows she's on her own, she may not want them. Having a dog by yourself is difficult if you can make sure to take them out on your own and/or very expensive if you rely on dog-walkers and sitters. If you want to help, offer to help. But the best thing for her in this situation will be to not see you and to not have you around co-parenting the dogs.

It seems like you're trying not to be a total scum-bag about dumping her and that's nice, but don't assume anything about how she feels and don't set expectations for what will happen before she even knows the relationship is over. Start with the break-up, then the dogs. And realize that things might be raw, heated and emotional at first so the thoughtful, mature discussion about the dogs may need to wait a little bit for her to absorb the situation.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:14 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assume nothing. If she wants to keep the dogs, that's fine. But once you break up, separate cleanly. Having any entanglement where you need to see each other is unfair and sends mixed signals.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:18 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The real cost of dogs is not their original purchase price, it is their regular, ongoing care. Vet bills, dogsitters and kibble add up quick. I agree that you need to come to a compromise about the dogs together, but once you do, the person who is not taking them might want to consider sending the other person some money once a month for their upkeep. An automatic recurring payment directly from your bank account would be best.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:25 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just offer to take the dogs off her hands.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:50 PM on September 18, 2013


If it's only been 10 days, the breeder might take them back and find another home for them. You may or may not get a refund, but really that's probably the best solution unless your girlfriend is really set on keeping them.
posted by whoaali at 1:58 PM on September 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


If she cares more for you than vice versa, I doubt very much that it will help her peace of mind to have you regularly dropping by for the dogs.

So -- I'd ask her what she wants to do about the dogs and abide by her decision. It is certainly nice to offer to pay off the dog-related credit card bill, too. If she says no, abide by that as well.
posted by bearwife at 2:06 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


she should keep them, even though I really want to, but I know the correct thing to do is let her have them...

We just dropped $2k on both of them on a joint credit card. I plan on paying the entire amount off myself (it's my card) since I dragged her into this situation


Can you explain a bit more about what happened here? You "dragged" her into getting the dogs (how?), and you think she "should" keep them (why?).

How in the world did you spend $2000 on two stray dogs? And on a card that is a joint credit card for both of you, but also just yours?

feeling like I'm abandoning her with kids we just had

Don't try to have joint custody of the dogs. I guarantee you that if you ever abandon someone with babies they gave birth to two weeks before, it will feel different, and if you have an askme about it you'll get very different answers.
posted by yohko at 2:11 PM on September 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


If she gets the dogs, she gets to tell you what she wants from you in terms of help (if anything). If you really want to help, let her know what you're willing/able to do. Then it's up to her to contact you.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:17 PM on September 18, 2013


Dogs are not kids. Keep them, let her have them, or return them, but do not use them as an excuse to keep her from having the clean break she needs. When my first wife and I broke up, she took the cats, and while I thought about them and hoped they were well (and found it very painful to learn one of them had died), I sure as hell didn't show up on her doorstep with catfood, and she sure as hell wouldn't have liked it if I had.
posted by languagehat at 2:19 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Walk away, just walk away.
posted by Max Power at 2:26 PM on September 18, 2013


nthing how the heck two strays cost $2k?!

Besides that, if she's keeping the dogs, she should reimburse you for their adoption fees, etc. Otherwise, they are your dogs and you should keep them if you want them/she balks at paying up. Like you said, she said she wouldn't have gotten 2 had she not been able to handle 2. You should not be offering any monetary support post-break up. At best, maybe occasional dog-sitting if you are on really good terms and it's an emergency. Best case, just have a discussion on who gets the dogs and make a clean break.
posted by rawralphadawg at 4:55 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds as though you adopted the dogs in a different situation - alternate schedules so the dogs would have consistent care, two salaries, two people to handle walks, vet visits, training, etc. Even if your intention is to help with the pups, it's tough to maintain that long-term. And I say this as someone who knows several divorced couples with custody agreements about their dogs. Pooch visitation continues a cycle that you're trying to end with a breakup.

It's worth considering if there's a better home for these two dogs.
posted by 26.2 at 11:51 PM on September 18, 2013


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