When I met Carlos, I was pretty fresh off of a breakup, unsure if I would ever be able to love again. In fact, I didn’t want to love again. I didn’t want to be responsible for the feelings and wellbeing of another living thing, not even a plant. I was enjoying the solo journey, relishing in being able to come and go as I pleased without having someone wonder where I was and what I was doing.

But that day in the parking lot of Jack in the Box changed everything. The moment I saw his gray eyes, curly white hair, and pink nose, I knew it was game over for me. I’d found the one — the one who would cast down the frigid icebox that was protecting my heart (or so I thought) and fill it with more warmth and happiness than I knew I could muster. I walked over to the trunk he sat in, pointed, and asked if I could hold him.

I realize this is starting to sound weird, so let me clarify: Carlos is my dog, and he changed my entire world. I quickly learned that I not only could, but also wanted to love again. I was ready for a commitment. After all, I’d committed to at least 12 years of sleepless nights, poop cleanup, and staying in when I adopted my sweet baby boy, then only six weeks old, out of the trunk of a car in a fast-food parking lot on a whim. He promptly softened me up and is probably one of the main reasons my now-boyfriend puts up with my shit.

Pets change us in ways we’re never really ready for. Whether you’re interested in meeting new people or looking for your soulmate, they have magical powers that can make dating easier and a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

1. Walking your dog gives you the perfect excuse to spark up a convo with the other cute owners on your block. Hey, you already have something in common.

2. Cuddling your pet melts your heart, and a melted heart is an open one. Also, it makes you more accustomed to cuddling, you know, just in case.

3. Pics with your cat? Add them to your Tinder profile and watch those matches pile up.

4. Most pets sleep in their human’s bed, so you get quickly get used to bedsharing. You know where I’m going from here.

5. Pet ownership forces you to grow up, and maturity is sexy. 

6. Last-minute canceled dates really aren’t so bad when you have a cute little friend to stay home and watch hours of “Love Island” with.

7. You never run out of things to talk about on a date, because every (worthy person) loves chatting pets.

8. Your pet will always be your #1, making everyone else second best. This keeps your expectations in check, which is one of the keys to a happy dating life.