Why the viral 'black cat vs golden retriever' relationship theory works.

If you haven’t heard of the latest dating theory to go viral on TikTok, you might be wondering what black cats and golden retrievers have to do with dating. Put simply, the black cat and golden retriever theory tells us that the most successful relationships have one very specific dynamic in common: the woman gives black cat energy and the male gives golden retriever energy. And no, I’m not referring to my own relationship with my perpetually manipulative pug, Henry. Let me explain.

Black cat energy is unbothered, borderline selfish, and prioritises themselves above all else — if you’re still confused, just picture literally any cat ever. Golden retriever energy couldn't be more different — unlike black cats, they’re happy-go-lucky, always excited to see you, and perhaps a little bit naïve. 

If you’re a straight woman looking to date straight men, let me give it to you... well, straight: this is the dynamic that you want. Visual learners, let’s look at some celebrity couples who embody this dynamic. 

There’s Kylie Jenner and Timothee Chalamet, Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz Beckham, and of course, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky. All of these celebrity pairings demonstrated the female black cat and male golden retriever dynamic.

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The problem with a male black cat and female golden retriever dynamic is that the men — much like their golden retriever counterparts — enjoy having something to chase. When you take that off of the table, they will inevitably get bored and lose interest. 


Unfortunately, this usually pushes the golden retriever in the relationship to overcompensate in an effort to regain closeness and save the relationship. What ends up happening? They become pushovers and quite often lose themselves in the relationship, whereas a black cat never loses themselves, and that’s the most attractive quality that anyone can bring into a relationship.

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and can confirm that the best dynamics that I’ve observed in my own relationships have been when I’ve been settled in my role as the black cat.

In a previous relationship, golden retriever energy came naturally to me as the person I was dating at the time was… in a bit of a rut, let’s say. He was heavily in debt, struggling with family dynamics and was generally angry at the world. He was so unhappy in his own life that I took it upon myself to be that happiness for him. 

For me, this looked like putting on a happy and positive persona whenever I was in his presence. I would bottle up my own emotions and try my best to pull him out of his bad moods. I was always suggesting dates and things that we could do together — because if I didn’t, no one would. And what did I get? A boyfriend who offered to help me move apartments but instead fell asleep on my couch while I struggled with heavy boxes. Ironically, this man actually owned a golden retriever. 

Ultimately, the experience left me feeling empty. I would overlook treatment that I normally wouldn’t tolerate because I wanted to be a positive influence in his life, but what eventuated was something entirely different: I had become a doormat. I decided that one golden retriever was probably enough responsibility for him, so I ended it. 


Most of us will experience being both the black cat and the golden retriever in our dating lives. I was once in an on and off again relationship for three years where the dynamic would constantly switch. One minute I was the golden retriever, doing everything I could to make my partner happy while he brought the bare minimum to our relationship. The next, I was the black cat and he would be sending flowers to my place of work and couldn’t stand to be away from me. 


Of course, I’m only applying my personal dating experiences here as a straight woman dating straight men, and there are always exceptions. But when I have truly stepped into my black cat energy and started prioritising my own needs and happiness above all else, I’ve noticed an immediate change in my relationships.

I now exclusively bring black cat energy into my relationships and (not to be dramatic) as a former golden retriever, it’s night and day. Men have moved countries for me, I’ve received weekly flowers, and one even wrote a song about me — as opposed to the spilt bills, mixed messages and one truly puzzling birthday gift (a used copy of the Barefoot Investor) that I had cultivated in my golden retriever energy.

Whether you believe in the theory or not, there is something to be said for staying true to yourself in a relationship. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my extensive dating experiences is that you need to learn how to make yourself happy first. That, and if he gifts you a second-hand book about money, you might’ve landed on a toad instead. 

Feature Image: Getty/TikTok@annakrstna.

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