Opposite political views stir concerns
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
D ear Carolyn:
I have a wonderful girlfriend of two years now. There's only one thing that makes me worry about the future of our relationship: her political views. I'm liberal, and she's conservative. When we discuss politics, it gets heated — and it's usually because I think she lacks empathy, while she thinks I'm too empathetic to people's situations (subject example: collecting unemployment).
I'm at the point in the relationship where I want to take it to the next level, but is this going to be a big problem in the future? Are our polar-opposite political views a sign of polar-opposite values that will make it hard to be married or raise a family?
I think the reason I get so upset when we debate politics is that she doesn't pay attention to the news, so her opinions, while strong, are never as informed as they could be. If they were and she disagreed with me, I could take comfort in the fact that she really knows what she's talking about.
Couples can survive political differences, but they rarely thrive when one half doesn't respect the other. If you don't respect her thought process, then, deal-breaker.
How do you cultivate respect for a person when they decisively and firmly argue uninformed opinions? If a person is plowing forward (in an argumentative manner) with opinions that aren't based in fact, how do you conjure empathy and, therefore, respect for them? I agree that a relationship cannot survive a lack of respect, but what if someone is displaying behavior that isn't making respect a walk in the park?
You accept that you don't respect the person, and it might be over.
However, there might be areas of life this person handles with grace, and challenges s/he seems to master while you struggle, which can justify staying. There are many ways to strike and appreciate a balance.
Where you can't just break up (family, say) and there aren't those mitigating elements, you go exactly where you suggest: empathy. You can imagine emotional reasons people choose the positions they do, argue them with the fervor they do and close their minds to contrary facts as they do.
I do think that, while a quest for mutual respect is necessary with people you don't choose, like parents or neighbors, it's best not to work that hard with a mate. Hold out, instead, for mutual respect that comes from sources that are natural and enduring.
I ask myself, when faced with political differences in a potential relationship: “Is this person sufficiently kind?” I find that political differences that turn out to be deal-breakers are evidence that the person is not kind enough for me to want to spend time with them.
— Anonymous 2
Not just a good suggestion, thanks, but one that's applicable well beyond politics.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WM wrestling rebuilding after losses to graduation
- Salvation Army edges closer to campaign goals
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- Study: At least 786 child abuse victims died despite being on protective services’ radar
- Art review: ‘Obsessions’ at Space gallery in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Valley New Dispatch spotlight athletes: Highlands’ Ashlyn Jonczak, Cheswick Christian Academy’s Ben Pollock
- Toast of the Town: Explore Lawrenceville’s many watering holes