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Belling The Cad

My boyfriend of six months asked me to move into his house. I'm considering it because I'd save a lot on rent, and I spend most of my time there anyway. Well, he has a dog, and I have two cats, which he refuses to have at his house -- partly because he fears they won't get along with his dog, but also because he just doesn't want them. It's his house, and I understand his feelings; I'm just upset because I want to spend my life with him, but I adore my cats and have no intention of getting rid of them. How can I get him to come around?

--Meow Mix

"Come live with me, and be my love," the Christopher Marlowe poem begins. I forget the next line, but I'm pretty sure it isn't "But please, my beloved, drop your cats off to be gassed on your way over."

It seems your boyfriend bought the selfish creep edition of classic romantic verse. Yes, he's asked you to move in. Unfortunately, he isn't exactly playing it fast and loose with the "mi casa es tu casa." Putting out the welcome wagon for you with a "no cats allowed" sign on it is like offering somebody a ride, then telling them "too bad we don't have room in the car for your legs." Consider yourself lucky to be childless, lest he insist you drop-kick any inconvenient offspring into foster care before you move in.

The guy must have some feeling for you, such as the feeling that it isn't terribly unpleasant having you around. But, if you're looking for lasting love, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to settle for what boils down to a landlord-tenant situation with a nudity clause. The only thing missing is his proposal -- that special moment when he gets down on bended knee and implores you to be the roommate he has regular sex with (two months security, utilities not included). And, don't forget: No pets - not unless they're his.

All the love in the world isn't going to change the mind of a boyfriend who only likes cats if they've been converted into toilet seat covers. But, how the boyfriend feels about cats is actually beside the point. When somebody loves you, what matters to you matters to them, even if they think it's disagreeable, pointless, and determined to shred their favorite chair into a pile of packing confetti. This isn't to say loving somebody necessarily translates into turning your house into their personal zoo. But, your boyfriend might at least deploy a brain cell or two to explore whether a couple of tabbies napping in a spare bedroom in his royal suburban castle would really be the end of life as he knows it. He could also phone an animal shelter and get the pros and cons. Clearly, your happiness isn't exactly crowding the guy's priority list.

Maybe, like a lot of people, you're so desperate for love that you'll tart up just about anything and call it that. Maybe you've been too busy picturing the money you'd be saving doing little pirouettes all over your checking account, or imagining the romantic glory you'd be bathed in for all eternity. The essential question isn't how can you get him to come around, but why would you want to? Sure, hanging onto love takes compromise. Before you start compromising, you should check that what you're hanging onto is actually love, and that you aren't the only one giving stuff up. Perhaps, for you, love makes the world go round, but it's unflinching self-interest that's keeping the cat hair off your boyfriend's duvet.


Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.