Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I have a really close friend who lives across the country with really different political and religious views than mine. We grew up together, but now no matter how we start out and how long we’re talking about something else, he seems to always want to talk about politics or religion. How can I steer him back to “how about that weather”? Other than this problem, he’s definitely one of my best friends. — Swiss Flag Waver
Dear Swiss Flag Waver,
If your buddy’s actually one of your BFFs, why haven’t you just voiced your concerns to him? What’s your eggshell dance really about, Swiss Flag Waver? Work on tightening up that internal convo, first.
I live in an area known for its slant, its very particular POV, so much so that if I didn’t have friends that I genuinely care about and love, but who hold very different beliefs than me, I would tend to think that everyone thinks “like us” — so their very friendship gives me repeated reason to be thankful for being blessed with these mind expanders and ego-knocker-downs! Feel out why you are so close and comfortable with this friend, and leverage that like/love when he next brings up the importance of his earnest beliefs. Tell him it bothers you. Tell him you’ll never agree, so let’s agree to disagree. Tell him to STF up. Whatever your friendship can tolerate and sounds like (!), that’s what you need to step UP and say out loud.
Not black & white and doesn’t need to run all over,
Dear Swiss Flag Waver,
It is time to declare your friendship a neutral zone unless you both can have a sense of humor about it. My sister and her husband reside on opposite sides of the red/blue line generally. They joke that they cancel out each other’s vote as they drive together to the polling place.
The thing to remember is that both sides have reasons and life experiences that have led them to believe as they do. Friendship must include respect that allows for both of you to be who you are, otherwise, you are acquaintances yet to discover the nature of true camaraderie and friendship. Friendship must be that safe harbor where one does not feel unduly judged. Yes, truths are spoken that are not always agreed upon—then you agree to disagree, without anger or resentment. It is not for you to change your friend or visa versa.
Evangelism will only create resentment and drive the two of you further apart. Ask nicely to agree to disagree and talk about something else. Let him know that you respect him and his opinion, but you do not agree, nor do you want to try and make him disavow all he believes in to agree with you. I would add a, “that said, I love you. So did you see the game on Sunday?”
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