Are you the cat in your relationship, loving risk and independence? Or, do you enjoy tranquility and routine like a dog?
Cats and Dogs: How to Build a Balanced Relationship
Read the modified transcript below:
We all want to be effective communicators. By transferring our knowledge of common household pets to people, Michael Grinder presents an analogy for understanding those we interact with.
A dog comes when it is called.
A cat tends to ignore the invitation unless of course it is accompanied by the sound of a can opener.
While the dog’s style is to live to please others, a cat’s style is more independent, and they live to please themselves.
The differences between cats and dogs can easily be remembered with the initials T and R. While dogs love tranquility and routine, cats love tension and risk.
There is nothing innately good or bad about either style.
In a relationship, the person who is more dog will tend to chase after the person who is more cat. The dog consistently wants more time and more contact.
However, this can cause the cat to flee, seeking more space. In this dynamic, the cat, either actively or passively, is controlling the relationship.
In the following animation, we’ll demonstrate first the imbalance between the two styles, where the dog continually pursues the cat, and then a much better approach where the dog can increase that balance with some simple adjustments.
Let’s start with the wrong way.
Wanting more contact, the dog chases after the cat. This results in the cat moving away to have more space.
The dog thinks, “Hmm, I’m going to be clever “and stop chasing that cat,” but, used to being chased, the cat continues to walk, increasing the distance between the two.
“Finally, some breathing room. Hang on, where did that dog go?”
This is where the cat realizes something isn’t quite right. The cat wonders, “Where is my fan club?” and reverses direction.
“Oh wow, here comes the cat.” The dog, excited by the cat’s return, ruins it by excitedly racing towards the cat.
“Shoot, how did that dog get so close so fast?”
The cat, needing space, turns, walks away, and leaves the dog right back at square one.
Now that we’ve seen it done the wrong way, let’s look at the better way.
Let’s rewind to where the dog has decided to wait, creating distance between the two.
The cat has realized things aren’t right and wonders where the dog has gone. Instead of chasing the cat, let’s see what happens this time around. The cat wonders, “Where is my fan club?” and reverses direction.
“Wait, wait, just wait. Don’t react.” This is where the dog has to be disciplined enough to wait for the cat to get just close enough.
The dog turns and walks in the opposite direction, triggering the cat’s natural curiosity to follow.
“What is that dog up to?” The dog has had the self-discipline to stay away from the cat, teasing the cat’s natural curiosity, turning the tables, causing the cat to seek the dog out.
As we have seen, seeking and chasing is a natural phenomenon in healthy relationships. For the relationship’s sake, the couple has to be careful that the cat doesn’t control the relationship inappropriately. The dog has to make sure the cat seeks the dog at least some of the time.
A balanced relationship is when both members take turns seeking and chasing the other party.
Knowing how to recognize whether an individual operates more as a dog or more as a cat allows us to select the appropriate strategies to foster and maintain a relationship with that individual.
Dogs like clarity. It’s best to develop a relationship with them directly and openly.
It is best to develop a relationship with a cat indirectly, intriguing the cat’s personality.
The benefit of applying our common understanding of household cats and dogs to people is that we become more realistic and respectful in our expectations of ourselves and others, building better foundations of communication.
By realizing our own tendencies, we recognize when we can be ourselves, and when we need to be flexible. By modifying our own behaviors, we create successful relationships.
Improve your relationship while snuggling at home with your sweetie. Check out Michael Grinder’s Couples Workshop.
For more in-depth understanding, hop on over to our shop where you will find a wealth of information, including Michael’s books: Charisma: The Art of Relationships, and for teachers, A Cat in the Doghouse.