Big problem with viral black cat, golden retriever dating theory

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A new dating theory that claims to share the formula for a successful relationship has gone viral – but experts have issued a warning about the advice.

Anna Kristina, a self-titled “mindset coach”, has amassed millions of views with her recent explanation of the “black cat and golden retriever” theory.

It’s based around the notion that “women are never happy in their relationships and marriages if they end up chasing their man”, so in order for a romance to last, the man and the woman need to have very different characteristics.

The key to mastering this dynamic, Ms Kristina reckons, is that women should behave like black cats, who are apparently “mysterious”, “aloof” and a “femme fatal”.

Meanwhile any man pursing a black cat needs to be “loyal”, “energetic” and doing all the chasing.

Dating expert reveals formula for successful relationship

While Ms Kristina didn’t coin the theory, which first began being discussed on TikTok in June 2023, she’s behind the recent rise in its popularity having shared numerous videos on the topic.

“The best dynamic in a relationship if you want it to last is the one where she’s the mysterious femme fatal black cat and he’s the loyal golden retriever,” she explained in one viral video which has been over 6.5 million times.

“It’s the woman who needs to maintain the mystery, the independence, she serves herself first because the black cat comes and goes as she pleases.

“This pleases the golden retriever because he sits on the edge of his seat still being intrigued by the black cat, always being interested and entertained because he feels like he never has a hold of her.”

She went on to claim that when reversed, and the man is the black cat, he “gets bored” and has “no sexual attraction”.

“It becomes a relationship of convenience and the sex with drive down resulting in him pulling away,” she stated.

“This dynamic never works.”

If you’re reading that and thinking this sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. Chantelle Otton, Bumble’s resident sexologist, told news.com.au the “theory isn’t new” and could actually be damaging to your relationship.

“While using these kinds of comparisons can be a fun way to talk about relationships, it’s pretty important to take a step back and think about these tropes more deeply,” the Melbourne sexual health expert said.

“This whole concept oversimplifies the complex mix of personalities and dynamics that make up real relationships. After all, people are more diverse in their behaviours and feelings than just being one thing or another.

“What makes a relationship work are healthy practices like mutual respect, good communication, and really understanding each other, not just fitting into certain roles because of gender.”

Melbourne psychologist Carly Dober stressed the dating theory was rooted in sexism and didn’t acknowledge queer or same sex relationships.

“It is very heteronormative, and it does not leave space for queer relationships or different kind of relationship configurations,” she told news.com.au.

“It also further entrenches that most straight males are friendly and outgoing while women are more reserved and difficult to please.

“Comparing women to cats is also another example of sexism.”

Despite the glaring problem with the black cat, golden retriever theory it has taken off online, with hundreds of videos amassing views in the tens of millions shared on TikTok in recent weeks.

So if it’s based on the rather disturbing notion that men need to chase down and secure a woman like a prize, why has it taken off in 2024, when we’re more aware of toxic and misogynistic behaviours than ever?

“The idea really plays into some old-school stereotypes about how men and women are supposed to behave and its recent resurgence may be due to the popularity of one of the biggest stereotypical ‘golden retriever’ boyfriends in pop culture, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend Travis Kelce,” Ms Otten explained.

“Nowadays, when we talk about relationships, the focus is more on seeing each person as their own unique self, with their own traits, needs, and what they’re looking for in a partner. “Dating apps like Bumble have had huge success off this, challenging norms of how women are expected to behave when it comes to online dating.

“Pushing people to fit into specific boxes can lead to a lot of misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and feeling let down.”

Ms Dober agrees, adding it is important to understand any kind of pop culture relationship theory is not based in science.

“I would encourage people to not close themselves off to potential romantic partners if they aren’t the golden retriever type or the black cat type, or to change their behaviour to mimic these two relationship tropes on social media,” she shared.

“It is fine to have a bit of fun with it and to have a laugh with one another if there are similarities, but also understand that people can change and relationships are usually much more complicated than being boiled down to a type of domestic animal.”

While the experts highlighted the possible issues with the black cat and golden retriever theory, Ms Otten did stress there was one redeeming feature of the viral dating advice.

“Often we see a stereotype of women being attracted to ‘bad boys’, whereas the trending ‘golden retriever’ traits are examples of potential green flags you want to be searching for in a long-term partner,” she said.

“Overall, it’s better to focus on how well you get along, how you talk to each other, and how you work through things together, instead of trying to make a romantic partner fit into some predetermined idea.”

So if you’ve fallen foul of the viral relationship advice, at least it’s not all bad news.

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