Cesar Millan is a familiar face to pet lovers worldwide for his amazing ability to rehabilitate problem dogs and for his three best-selling books on training our four-legged family members. This January, Millan will premiere 10 never-before-seen episodes of The Dog Whisperer on its new network Nat Geo Wild and continue demonstrating the special bond he has with dogs, the knowledge of which he says transfers to his relationships with people.
The 42-year-old, Culiacán, Mexico-born dog trainer tells eHarmony in an exclusive interview that the three fundamental elements of a relationship are trust, respect and loyalty. And he is talking from experience. After 16 years of marriage, Millan was in London when his now ex-wife Illusion broke the news to him that she wanted a divorce and the trust was broken.
Now, in this interview, Millan candidly talks about what he has learned about love, including how he bottomed out after his divorce and then picked up the pieces to find a new romance.
What can animals teach us about love and life?
Life is simple; we just make it complicated. The importance of hope; they always keep hope. The importance of living in the moment or appreciating the moment; dogs, in my opinion, don’t care about the past or the future, they focus on the now. They give us one thing that everyone knows: unconditional love. But, they also give us forgiveness. We as humans are not very good about forgiving people’s mistakes or forgiving ourselves. With a dog, you can make a mistake today, or you can hurt him, and a minute later he is wagging his tail. They are telling you: “Don’t worry about it. I forgive you.” A human will tell you he forgives, but it begins at level three. A dog begins at zero. They are the masters of forgiveness.
What do you love most about your life now?
That I am leading my life. It is really my vision. The jobs or the television shows that I do are really what I want to do, not what other people tell me to do.
How do you know if someone is THE ONE?
What I find for me is that if the person isn’t trying to find out what they can get from you but what you can get from them, it is real. That is what I know from dogs. A dog doesn’t care about getting things from you. He cares about: Can you get this from me? So it is a very non-selfish relationship. Do their actions show that this person is there for you, or for them? That is how I found out that [my new relationship] was there for me.
What do you think one needs in a partner to make the relationship successful?
Some people have the perception that love is everything, but the way I see love is I measure my relationship by the 100 percent relationship I have with dogs. I have a very pure, authentic, genuine relationship with my dogs. I want to have a relationship with a human the same way. A dog calls it love when there is trust in the relationship. A dog calls it love when there is respect in the relationship. A dog calls it love when there is loyalty in the relationship. So, trust, respect and loyalty is what a dog calls love. You can love someone and not respect them. You can love somebody and not trust them. I know a lot of relationships where people say, “I love him but I don’t trust him.” To me the fundamentals of a relationship are trust, respect and loyalty.
What advice would you give to those who are still looking for love?
One thing I learned when I was looking for love is [it matters] how happy or unhappy you are because I believe that you attract energy, so you are going to attract whatever you are. Also, if you are looking for someone who completes you then you are dependent on that person, then you are not 100 percent responsible for yourself. That makes the other person responsible for keeping you happy. So one thing I learned is I had to go from zero to ten and accept myself for what I was. If I have insecurities, I have to be honest with myself. I have to acknowledge all my weaknesses before you can see my strength. Everyone sees my strength. Everybody sees he is really good with dogs. But my personal relationship with myself is more important before I enter into a new relationship. So really understanding my weakness gave me the freedom to be open and honest with the person.
How do you think being a celebrity has affected your ability to find love and be loved?
To me, having a person around my pack … my pack meets many people and they tell me: “We like them, we don’t like them.” It was very important to me that my pack accept my new relationship and also my kids. Kids and dogs are not going to lie to you. When they like something, they like something; when they don’t, they don’t. I come with a big family. The question is: “Are you okay with my big family?” My big family is 15 dogs and two kids. Plus, she didn’t have a problem when we asked her: Is it OK if we do a prenup? We are not getting married but just something like that. She said, “No problem.” From a legal perspective that is important.
You recently went through a divorce. How did you deal with the loss of love?
It was unexpected, so usually when you are not expecting it, it is a different reaction. I wasn’t prepared. I was actually in England. So, here somebody is telling you, “We are getting divorced.” I said, “Why can’t you wait to tell me when I am back in America?” The way it went for me is I felt a sense of failure. I went all the way to the bottom and then I built myself back up. You ask yourself, “What didn’t I do right?”
How is parental love different?
When you are raising a child, he is still acquiring wisdom and he needs to feel loved. When you are dealing with a person who has lived a little longer, you are not parenting them. I am expecting them to know what to do, or at least they should be open to accepting when they’ve made a mistake, so we can have a conversation without altercation, calmly.
Do you always think of love in terms of dogs?
Yes, but a relationship is not about training a person; it is about feeling their needs.