While not everyone is raised around animals, many people who are raised with pets in their families grow up to want their own homes and lives to include animal companions. Some people experience pets as a nice addition to life, but others feel animals are a lifeline to happiness and offer the unconditional love that may not always experience with the people in their lives.
These feelings can be especially strong for people who childhoods were really hard—those with abusive or neglectful parents, families where family members have been chronically ill or died or had other tragic losses. Sometimes our animals provide the only real consistency in our lives.
Of course, you don’t have to been abused or neglected or have suffered terrible losses to be strongly drawn to animal companions. Pets provide us amusement, companionship, attention, and a sense of purpose because we are entrusted to take care of them. For older people and people living on their own, pets may become especially important.
There is nothing wrong with loving your animals and giving them the best lives possible. You get to choose what to do with your time and energy and if you want to give more time and energy to your pets and less to your friends, that is your choice. But if you find that you avoid being with people because you are afraid of risking being hurt or rejected or have big issues with trusting others, you may have an issue worth exploring, perhaps with a counselor.
It doesn’t mean that you have to love your animals any less, but it might be really rewarding to learn to love yourself and other people a little more.