Hey guys! I took last week off but I am happy to be back for another #honestlyrach.
This week I received a really good question about friendships and relationships and I could not resist answering. As always, if you have any questions for me, submit them HERE. I love reading them, and may just sit down and write an answer back to you!
I'm struggling with this problem and wouldn't trust most people's advice on the topic, but after hearing your conversation on the podcast; I think you're the perfect person to reach out to.
As some background, I am a Latina woman who follows politics pretty closely. I would call myself a progressive, and I care deeply about issues related to poverty, racial injustice, systemic oppression, etc. My identity feels very close to my politics, so as you can imagine, the last four years have been really difficult and I want nothing more than a new president this November and for the GOP to go away.
Early this summer, my best friend (who I had asked to officiate my wedding next year!) started dating a guy. She mentioned that he's conservative and showed us his Twitter. Unfortunately, he's not "just" conservative. He works for a right-wing media organization and constantly retweets anti-science and hateful content (e.g., posts calling BLM protestors "left-wing terrorists", white-supremacist Tucker Carlson segments, anti-mask propaganda, and all of the other Trumpian content you can imagine). She follows him on Twitter so I imagine she knows he does this, but I'm not sure how much she understands or is bothered by the content (she is a pretty "apolitical" person).
So, I feel really stuck. There is no world in which this guy and I could be close friends. And part of me is very saddened that my best friend could even date this guy given the values he holds and the voices he chooses to amplify (potentially because of his job). Anyway, what do I do? Do I talk to her and tell her honestly how I'm feeling? Do I ride it out and hope they break up? Do I give him a chance and try to get along with him?
Any advice is very welcome. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!!
I completely understand why you would reach out seeing how I am in a very similar and very public situation. I think you point out a very important distinction. There is a difference between possessing “conservative” and “alt-right” views. There is a difference between being conservative and supporting institutions that uphold racism. There is a difference between being conservative and thinking that racism does not exist. There is a difference between being conservative and aligning yourself with racist ideals. It sounds like this boyfriend is not a conservative but the latter.
When we are in relationships we have deal breakers. People in a relationship should know prior to entering that relationship what they are willing to accept and what they are not. It differs for each couple and it is important for couples to discuss this prior to beginning a relationship. For your friend, a difference in politics or racism may not be a deal breaker for her. At the end of the day, that is her prerogative. But just as there are deal breakers in loving relationships, the same goes for friendships as well.
You don’t have to be in a friendship with a friend’s significant other but is that a deal breaker for you? You have to ask yourself, can you separate your feelings and opinions about him from your friendship? That is only a question you can answer. I would not try to stay silent because eventually you will burst. If you feel this strongly about him then there is no way you will be able to hide your feelings.
I have come across this situation twice. In the first example, my friend was in a toxic relationship and I decided to tell her what I thought about her boyfriend and relationship. This was a big mistake! I inserted myself unwarranted into her relationship. She did not ask for my opinion and rather than speaking on my issues with him as a person, I spoke about the relationship as a whole. The conversation backfired and rather than ending the relationship she almost ended her friendship with me. For me, this was a lesson learned. I learned to never interfere in someone’s relationship. If I am truly concerned and it is affecting my friendship then I will speak to my friend about the significant other only. I would detail how and why I feel that way and how we can all move forward. If you are going to be forthcoming about everything to your friend, then you should be able to express all opinions to your friend when an issue directly impacts you.
In the second example, my friend was in a relationship with someone whose beliefs personally offended me. I felt the need to say something to her because those values had such an effect on me that every time I looked at her I saw him. I personally feel that if you are aligned with a person with these beliefs then you must either believe them or you are complicit with these values. This was a time where I felt it was okay to honestly tell that friend how I was feeling. It was vital for our friendship. I also needed to understand where she stood because I was beginning to question her beliefs as well. I am so glad that we had this conversation and I did not keep these feelings buried deep inside. Through this conversation I did not have to assume her beliefs or automatically attach them to her significant others. The openness took our friendship to another level and I also understood the dynamics of her relationship. I say this to demonstrate that “good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.”
To further answer your question, I would not hope for a breakup. I definitely believe you should talk to her about it. It is only fair to your friendship that you discuss how you feel and how it is affecting your friendship. Friends should be able to talk about anything even if those conversations are uncomfortable. You can discuss how that person’s beliefs and actions make you feel, without speaking about their relationship. There is absolutely a difference.
From my aforementioned experience, inputting yourself in the middle of the relationship is never a good idea, but that is not the same as having a conversation. We don’t always like our friend’s significant others and we don’t have to because we are not the one in the relationship. It is important that you are able to continue to be yourself in the friendship, be on the same page, and have an understanding moving forward.
~ Honestly, Rach