I don’t know if it’s our differing views or if he feels attacked because I’m (usually) more knowledgeable about political events than he is. Every time it comes up he gets upset, which makes me upset and we just end up arguing — not even necessarily about politics but just arguing about how he feels like I belittle him. His solution is for us to never talk politics, but I just can’t do that since it’s such a major part of my life.
I know people say politics and religion shouldn’t be discussed because they cause issues, but I think in today’s society it’s just impossible to know someone without knowing the political morals and values they hold. I really care about Eric and he’s an amazing man, but I feel like I can’t talk about the thing I’m most passionate about around him for fear of messing up our otherwise amazing connection. What other solutions could there be so that we can communicate about politics without there being tension? – A confused college student (who hasn’t been in a relationship in two years and is kind of lost with relationships)
“We’ve now been dating roughly three weeks and we have a problem.” I don’t even need to know what the problem is to know that if you are having issues big enough in the first month — hell, in the first three months — to warrant a letter to an advice columnist, you’re probably not dating someone who is the right match for you. Knowing what your specific problem is, I can say that with even more confidence: You are not dating someone who is a good match for you.
That this guy knows how important politics is to you — it’s your major, it’s your passion, it’s the career industry you want to pursue — and has suggested you avoid ever discussing it because you can’t seem to do so without an argument or without his feeling belittle–speaks volumes of how much he values you. Which is to say not very much. He probably feels pretty inadequate discussing politics because he doesn’t know as much as you do and therefore can’t hold his own in a debate against you, and then he feels frustrated and angry, causing him to want you to just shut up because then he won’t feel so inferior.
You’re in college, you’re young, you admittedly don’t have much relationship experience, so let me help you with this: someone who wants you to shut up about something you’re passionate about because your knowledge and intelligence make him feel inferior, and/or because your opinion differs from his, is NOT someone you should be dating. You aren’t a good match. You should be with someone who respects you, respects your opinion (even if he doesn’t agree with it), respects your intelligence and knowledge, and gets turned on by your passion. That isn’t this guy. I’d cut him loose now before you waste any more time and energy getting attached.
And to your question about how to discuss politics without there being tension: We live in a politically tense climate right now and I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect or strive for a lack of tension in political discussions. Tension is what fuels change (and we need change!!!). Tension is the root of progress. Every political movement in our society’s history that led to more equality among our citizens and better protection in terms of laws and services was born out of some kind of tension. That doesn’t mean there needs to be a lack of civility or that your political discussions have to be hostile. Be an active listener, hear opposing viewpoints, practice empathy. But don’t become docile — don’t avoid tense topics and heated discussions — because some guy you dated for three weeks made you feel like that was the only way you were going to maintain a relationship. It’s not. And the right match would never make you feel that way.
This lady is a good person, but she is extremely extroverted and loud and annoying. She asked me if I was going to the party, and I told her that it depends on my mood. She didn’t like my answer. She’s very persistent and sometimes can’t take no for an answer. I don’t want to go to the evening party because, basically, I just don’t want to go. If I go to this party, I’ll have to spend a couple hours there and I’ll miss out on going out with my friends.
What do you think I should say to her? I don’t want you to tell me to go; I want you to tell me what to say. My idea would be to say I’m going and then ring her later on to say I’m not feeling in a good mood or something came up or I’m not feeling well or something. And then wish her the best on the phone.
Any ideas? — Not feeling it
My idea is that you need to grow up and develop a lot more tact. You don’t say how old you are, but you sound like a teenager. Are you a teenager? It’s the only excuse I can think of for telling someone that your presence at their going-away party is dependent on whatever mood you’re going to be in that evening. That’s such a rude and arrogant response — something someone who is immature and doesn’t know better would say. If you knew you weren’t going to go, all you had to do was make up some excuse that allowed this woman to believe you WOULD come if you were only available. “Oh, I wish I could make it, but it’s the same night as my friend’s birthday party and I’ve already planned to spend the evening with her and our mutual friends.” Sometimes a white lie really is the best reply — when done right, it allows everyone to leave an interaction with pride still intact. Instead, your response immediately let the guest of honor know that she is of so little importance to you that you can’t even be bothered to commit to a “yes” or a “no” in regards to attending her going-away party. You have to wait and see what your mood is like.
At this point, because you didn’t make up an excuse quickly enough and you’ve already told the host that you are essentially available to go to her party, you have to show up. It’s not for her benefit but for yours. If everyone you work with is indeed going to be at this party, many of them with their partners, your absence is going to be noticed. When asked where you are, people will be told that you just weren’t in the mood to show up. That’s going to affect people’s opinion of you. They’re going to think you’re rude. They might even think you’re unprofessional. (Just because this isn’t a work function doesn’t mean it won’t reflect on your professionalism.) It could likely affect your relationships with the co-workers who aren’t moving to another country. You need to suck it up and make an appearance at this party. Go early and hang out for an hour. Bring a friend as a plus-one if you want, and then go meet your crew afterward. Sacrifice an hour for your standing at work.
Send a quick email to the lady who’s leaving, or catch her in the hallway, and say, “Hey, sorry about my response to you the other day when you asked about making it to your party. I was having a bad day and you caught me in a moment. I have some plans with friends later that evening, but I would love to stop by for a bit before I meet up with them and to give you a proper farewell. We’re really going to miss you here, and I wish you all the best in England.”
Go to the party, have a drink, be sure to say “hi” to co-workers, give the annoying lady a hug, wish her well, and then go meet your friends. It’s an hour of your life, you can do it. And next time, have a white lie reply ready to go!
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.