DAME’s Friendkeeper helps a lefty decide whether to unlock horns with her neocon BFF, and advises a mom on the intricate politics of mean-tween parenting.
I’m finding, more and more, that because of my political leanings, a chasm is widening between one of my dearest friends and me. This really saddens me, and I’m not sure how to resolve it. She is a friend I’ve had for years. I guess we really never discussed politics much, until now. But, as it’s become more and more a part of my life, it comes up more frequently, and I was dismayed to hear that some of her views were leaning far right—she really doesn’t like Obama. I am feeling like this huge ideological rift is very hard to reckon with. She doesn’t even condemn Trump! Agghh!! The thing is, not everything is like this with her—we still have huge laughs. Oh, I just don’t know what to do.
Stumped by Trump
What a sad time for us all. I’ve written, of course, about dealing with this phenomenon on social media, but in real life it’s a little more difficult. You can’t just hide or unfriend or block someone.
Before the Paris attacks, we were dealing with our friends’ responses to the debates and candidates, and gun control, and now we are hearing from people who have insane reactions to the insanity in the world. The question is: Is it possible to remain friends with someone with such a huge break in beliefs? I think the answer is yes. Sometimes in friendships things come up where you don’t agree. It can have to do with taking different sides on a mutual friend’s breakup, or one of you thinking it’s wrong for the landlord to raise the rent on the coffee shop you go to and the other thinking that business is business, or whether or not the United States is responsible for taking in Syrian refugees. I think you can say to your friend, I know we don’t agree about X, so lets just take that discussion off the table. You can use my least favorite phrase, “Let’s agree to disagree on this.” It can be okay. My dad’s BFF for 60 years is a conservative Republican. They don’t talk politics. I think the friendship can work. The problems become when more things have to be taken off the table. I guess when you find the only safe subject to talk about is the weather, you’ll know it’s over.
I have a daughter in middle school who has been friends with this girl named Dylan since kindergarten. Dylan is beautiful and popular and mostly nice, but occasionally she dumps my daughter, Maya, for periods of time. I am pretty good friends with her mother, Janet, but the last couple of times Maya was on the outs with Dylan, I noticed Janet was not answering my texts. I had this feeling she was hiding from me because her daughter didn’t want to see Maya, because as soon as the girls got together again, I got a flurry of “We need to catch up” texts from her. I’m irritated but unsure what to do.
Boooo! I hate this letter. Why? Because I so get it. First of all, middle-school girls are my nemesis, when I was one and now that I have one. I feel like they are either torturing someone or being tortured. I have this fantasy of putting them all on an island with Wi-Fi from age 12 to 17. (Unfortunately many of them are on an island and it’s called Manhattan). ANYWHO, I know this kind of b.s. with the mothers too and it’s hard to call them on it, because, though you may be certain it has to do with the girls, it could be any number of other things, she could be busy, someone could be ill. When I’ve been in this kind of predicament I find myself resorting to middle-school tactics. She ignores me, I ignore her more and then when I finally do respond I apologize for being so AWOL, but I was out to dinner with George and Amal and then they wanted me to come back to their Italian villa and train their dogs.
The best thing to do though, is say very directly, “Is something up? I may be imagining it but it seems like whenever your kid doesn’t want to hang with mine, you disappear.” The I may be imagining it part is crucial. Because we have all learned it’s not always about us. But bringing attention to it will at least let her know what feelings her actions are eliciting in you and that’s a very worthy conversation for anyone to have.
NOTE TO READERS: Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and we will not be publishing this column, but before I fall into a sugar coma, I want to direct you to something very important. As you go off to visit friends and family I want you to be safe. Don’t drink if you’re going to drive, don’t eat undercooked turkey, and if you are visiting a home with guns, PLEASE, PLEASE have a conversation with your hosts before you go.
If you’re not sure how to ask/what to say or are just uncomfortable the whole topic, please read this from Everytown for Gun Safety.
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