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Parallax - Advice            April 3, 2000

    Dream-lady's cat throws him into asthma fits

Dear Conversely,

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I've met the woman of my dreams. We've been out on at least five dates so far and they've been amazing. She's incredible and I want to see more and more of her. But there is this huge catch. I'm allergic to her cat and I swear she loves that cat like I've never seen anyone love anything. I can't even go in her apartment. She's been to mine once but says she doesn't like to stay late - she finds it inappropriate. I fear this cat will come between us.

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To be honest, I don't even like cats. Aside from the fact that they throw me into asthma fits, I think they smell and they're antisocial. Anyway, I don't know how we can ever have a long-term relationship with her cat around. The cat is only two years old and she'd never give it up for anything.

It's very hard for us to spend any intimate time together because I cannot even enter her apartment. She also doesn't like to leave the cat alone all day so our dates are always abbreviated. I wonder if our relationship ultimately just can't work?

I don't want to scare her with all kinds of serious conversation about living together. It's way too early to bring up those topics and she'll think I'm obsessed with her (actually, I think I am). How can I get around this cat?

Her view:

Dear Allergic,

Have you thought about allergy medication?

Any sane human being would choose a pet over someone they have gone out with only five times. You could still turn out to be an ax-murderer, but she knows the cat is going to love her unconditionally for its entire life. Give her, and the relationship, some more time before you start to plot the cat's untimely finale.

Absent the cat issue, it still sounds as though she is behaving in a perfectly normal manner for a person who has only been on five dates. Maybe your self-described obsession with her is coming through, and she feels the need to keep a little distance. Going home to the cat could just be an excuse to slow things down.

Or, maybe, she really does love the cat that much and feels like she has to get home to it. Even if that is the case, all is not lost. If you believe she's the right one for you, convince her of it. There may come a time when she loves you more than she loves the cat. If so, I am sure she'll be willing to find a good home for the cat.

Finally, if you are serious about having a successful long-term relationship with this, or any, woman, you have to lighten up. Do you realize you are jealous of a cat? Get over it. And really, look into allergy remedies.

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His view:

Dear Allergic,

I have a question. Why is it that the woman-of-our-dreams always comes with a huge catch once you finally meet her?

I guess I could commence a long list of helpful ideas to get "around" the cat, as my fellow advisor probably will. But why waste your time? I think there is a more immediate issue to consider before dealing with the feline.

The smelly, antisocial source of your asthma is not the main problem - she is. I see a woman who is not sure about her "species" priorities. She's dating humans, but puts cats first. Perhaps she expects the cat will turn out to be a mammalian version of the frog prince. More importantly for you, I see a woman who's not thinking you are the man-of-her-dreams. If she was truly interested in you, she could consider staying at your place more often - sacrificing propriety in light of the cat's noxious effects on you. Or she might find a way to keep the cat busy during those dates.

Maybe I rush to conclusions. After all, five dates is a short lapse for some people. My suggestion would be to give her a bit more time. A couple more outings, then bring up Sylvester. Ask her if she thinks there's a solution to the problem. But don't be surprised if she looks up at you and purrs, "what problem?"

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