'I also don't feel like anybody should have to choose between their pets and a partner.' Picture: Max Pixel

Question: I have three cats, the oldest I've had for nine years, the other two for seven. They are a huge part of my life. My boyfriend doesn't like cats. 

It is not an allergy, but he just hasn't bonded with them, and he doesn't like how they get on the furniture and leave hair. 

He has talked several times about how we could move in together "if the cats weren't an issue," and when my sister comes and cat-sits when we take trips away, he says she should keep the cats permanently. I do love him and want to be with him, but I also don't feel like anybody should have to choose between their pets and a partner.

Answer: I agree, and in this case it's not logistics, allergies or life circumstances forcing the choice. It is your boyfriend. Even if not forcing, he's implying that your cats are hindering your relationship's progress. Does he understand what position this puts you in? Has he suggested solutions for what frustrates him? (Cat hair can be removed from furniture.) Or is he just letting that justify his lack of an open mind?

He may not like cats, but when we love someone, we should try our best to coexist with their loved ones and incorporate them into our lives in ways that make sense. These cats aren't saying offensive things at Sunday dinner, or sending him into anaphylaxis. They're being cats. So, how about a choice for him - can he try to coexist?

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Bonior, a Washington, D.C.-area clinical psychologist, writes a weekly relationships advice column in The Washington Post's Express daily tabloid and is author of "The Friendship Fix."