Why can't non-dog people understand dog people and vice versa?

It's ridiculous... right?

If you are a dog person, have you ever tried to explain the connection with your dog and realized that you were making absolutely no sense to the other person? Or, perhaps you are not a dog person and listening to people go on and on about their dogs just makes you shake your head in amazement?

That's crazy, why can't we relate to each other?

Let's take a closer look at the interactions people have with their dogs. If you're a dog person, you probably used words like friend or companion and phrases like "they're always there for me" or "They are so excited when I get home". You are thinking of your dog almost all of the time. You interact with your dog multiple times a day. And those interactions have depth, they create feelings of pride, happiness, connection. Additionally, pets are special because we have a tendency to see them as naturally good. Good behavior is recognized as representative of who they actually are, and bad behavior is assumed to be a result of something external or a part of their nature, not them. Unlike people, you don't assume your dog has bad intentions. It's just they are a dog and didn't understand. Adding it all up, not many relationships can come close to the impact that the time you spend with your dog has upon you.

... maybe it's more reasonable to ask:

How could someone else who's never had a relationship like that ever understand why having a dog is so transformative?

They can't, and you shouldn't expect them too.

Just like a dog person kind of understands a cat person but is confused about why they'd choose "cat type" interactions over "dog type" interactions, and they won't understand the meaningful relationships that come with being a part of a high school marching band... unless they have a similar type of relationships or experiences in their life.

How to actually make sense

The easiest way to explain how much a relationship impacts us is to start by describing the time you spend in the relationship and engagement you feel. That's because time and engagement are universal across all relationships. If you start with those two aspects, you allow other people to substitute their relationships into their life that have similar levels of engagement and time. Instead of struggling to imagine a new relationship with a dog they don't have, they start to see how similar it is to their relationship with their best friend. So, when your cousin starts describing their online gaming community... instead of questioning their sanity, focus on the time and engagement they feel and you'll start to understand what makes it so special to them.

P.S.  We just launched a new series, called the 5-day connection challenge. It's 5-days of bite-sized emails that will help you deeply understand how your relationships are impacting you and much more. If the full relationship design course feels a bit daunting right now, this challenge is a great way to demo the complete course. Sign-up for free, here.

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