I marvel at the marriage of George and Kellyanne Conway. How any marriage or relationship can survive such polar and aggressive differences of opinions truly escapes me. Do they both really leave their day, their job, their Twitter account and everything else at the door and enjoy a lovely evening? Is one of them “faking it” publicly, but actually they are of one mind and just being disingenuous outside their home? I don’t know, but part of me wishes I could be more like them, while most of me knows I never will be.
I have mentioned a couple of times the relationship I was in briefly at the end of last year/beginning of this year. On our first date, I remember thinking, “Are we the same person?” We were so in line in our viewpoints, world views, moral compass, ideals, etc. I found this very attractive. Over the course of the weeks we were together, we discovered that we were not the same person. We had debates, conversations and even arguments about many topics. I think we learned from one another, but our viewpoints were not opposite ends of the spectrum, they were just a few steps apart. For example, I am a vegetarian. I feel quite strongly about my position, and I am happy to talk about WHY I believe it is a good choice, but he was a meat eater. I have always been fine with dating meat eaters, but what I appreciated in his case (and others) was that he would sometimes not eat meat so we could share dishes, and while he did eat meat, he appreciated my viewpoints and agrees that a more plant-based diet is a good idea. So, we were still in-sync, if not in lock-step, which I found very attractive.
My struggle with dating is that being in-sync is super important to me. I am strongly opinionated, and while I don’t think that I am immovable, I am consistent in that I will almost always choose compassion, humanity and kindness, and I don’t tend to want to be around people who are not also more likely to choose kindness over not. We all naturally gravitate towards those like us, and for me, that is less about race, nationality, religion, age, etc. and more about world view and the level of empathy person has.
My father is a Trump supporter, as are millions of people. This has created a wedge between my father and I. To me, taking politics, party and even personality out of it, I have a hard time finding any common ground with a Trump supporter because I think his policies are inherently unkind. For example:
- Yes, we have immigration laws, and people should follow them, BUT human beings have left horrible humanitarian crises, starvation, poverty etc. to try to find a better life for their children. Isn’t their a kinder way of dealing with this than walls and cages?
- Institutional racism is real. Can’t we have a legal system that is fair and compassionate and rehabilitates rather than punishes, so that society, as a whole, benefits?
- Women have MANY reasons for wanting or needing an abortion and convenience is rarely one of them. Can’t we assume that women wanting abortions are making an incredible difficult decision and treat them with compassion instead of vilifying them?
You may disagree with all of these notions and that is 100% fine, but then am I a terrible person if I don’t want to date you? My father has told me that I am intolerant.
I maintain that I am intolerant of intolerance.
I think it is okay, if fact GOOD, to be intolerant of injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, bullying, etc.
Here’s what happened and what sparked this post.
I went on a date last week. Since the aforementioned guy left and then we all went into social distancing, dating has been a challenge, as I have discussed, but I’ve been venturing out and going on some VERY socially distanced outdoor dates. I’m being pretty picky. Where I used to want to spend minimal time chatting on line and just meet, now I don’t want to take any risks unless I think there might be something there.
This guy is from here, but also speaks fluent English and went to college in the U.S. He is a year or two older than I am. and runs his own interesting business. He is divorced with one teen-aged child. He is taller than me by more than an inch or two. He is fit and takes care of himself. He was kind and attentive and communicative without being overbearing, which happens a lot here…the too much part. He comes from a very prominent family here, which means he has a fair amount of family money and privilege; for me, all this means is that he doesn’t need me, and that’s a good thing. We had a lovely phone conversation and then we went to lunch. I was optimistic. He was ticking a lot of boxes.
He let me pick the venue because I was more uncomfortable than he was with regards to COVID, and I wanted us to be 100% outside, not just on an open-air terrace. There is a vegetarian place I really wanted to try that has seating outside in a totally open courtyard. We were the literal only guests, likely because it is REALLY hot, especially at midday. He got points for agreeing to all of this. We both talked about our lives and the places we have lived. I learned about his parents and giant family. We talked in English, but I tried to throw in some of the local language…I really need to take better advantage of moments like this to practice, but that is another topic altogether! The good thing about first dates is that it is super easy to keep a good distance between us without feeling awkward. No contact all in the name of social distancing!
He was attentive and listened, but I didn’t feel the need to fill all the air because he contributed and chatted freely. I was more physically attracted to him than I had thought I would be, which is likely due to all of the above. (Although with me, there are exactly zero rules, patterns or logic to who I am actually attracted to in a sexual way. It’s a crap shoot every time.)
And then it happened. He works in sports, so I said something about that industry being really impacted right now, and he was agreeing that it was really hard for some of his clients. I then said something about being really impressed with the solidarity of the NBA and other sports leagues with regards to striking as a statement against the on-going racial unrest.
He sort of cocked his head and looked at me and asked,
“So do you support Black Lives Matter?”
I sort of cocked my head and looked at him and said, “Of course.”
Is this even a question?
He said it bothered him because all lives should matter. Of course, no one says otherwise! I launched into a whole thing, which I am fairly certain he was not expecting, but he let me talk. I highlighted the difference between Jacob Black, not posing an imminent threat being shot seven times in the back, and the 17-year old white kid with an illegal weapon, who was commended by the cops for being a vigilante, offered water and then after he killed two people, allowed walk down the street with his weapon and ultimately, leave the state to return home. My date said the reason Black people were treated differently was because of the way, and I quote, “they behave.” Wow.
I switched gears to women at some point saying that neither Blacks nor other people of color nor women are equally represented in government or in high-level positions in the private sector. I said that with 50% of the population being women, we should have 50% represented in government. His response to this: Well, they weren’t elected. Right, clearly, that is the fact, but that is a very simplistic way of looking at a system built to keep power in the privileged group.
I segued to a very racist issue happening in this country, which has been written about and criticized by human rights groups and governments for years, and he basically said that it was “fake news.”
At the end he agreed, that maybe some of what I was saying had credence, but he contended that “it is what it is,” (exact words) and that there was nothing we could do. Well, that brought us right back to the NBA and that what people could do was exactly what is happening across the U.S. right now. I pointed out that he was raised with extreme privilege, and those with what his family has have the power to affect change. He agreed that he was raised with privilege, but said that he, as a non-American and non-native English speaker, was treated poorly at the southern U.S. college he attended, and he was fine. I said that I had no doubt and surely that experience would give him some empathy to other similar, yet different situations of discrimination. However, he saw BLM as specifically excluding him, which of course, is missing the point. I asked him if was American and he could vote, would he support Trump. He sort of laughed and said, “Of course. 100%.”
We had long finished eating, and he had long paid. Lunch was over.
We parted with a wave. I sent him a link from The Atlantic talking about the issue I had raised. He sent me a message saying, “It was lovely to have lunch with you and experience (the restaurant). I hope to see you again even tho we don’t share the same perspectives of life. I think it makes it interesting to see people’s points of view. I enjoyed the conversation, and your life experience throughout the world is super interesting.”
He included a heart-eyed bitmoji. No comment of the article.
I replied, “Thank you. Speak soon.”
Am I a bad person for not being able to see myself with someone with such opposite views as me?
Am I being intolerant? Am I being closed-minded and judgmental? Am I a hypocrite to write this blog with the goal of spreading love and compassion and positive energy and yoga and then to write someone off because they don’t share my view? It’s not that I feel my view is right so much because I believe it, but right because it is on the side of love, progress, humanity and kindness.
I have been wrestling with whether to see him again. If everything else is good, is this a deal breaker? I think we would have fun together. Goodness knows I could use some human (male) contact these days. He has a good job and money and a passport at least as valuable as mine, so he doesn’t need me. He respects me. Shouldn’t I respect him? Is he right? Is being with someone with a VERY different view point good? I mean, it’s not like he’s KKK. I mentioned my friend and HIS boyfriend coming to stay and he didn’t appear to bat an eye. He respects me and my job and my independence. As he pointed out, he has faced discrimination and knows how it feels. Could I bring out some empathy and compassion from that starting point? It isn’t my job to change his mind. He’s an adult and has long formed his views, and lack of empathy is not a point of view anyway.
I just hate the negative energy that comes along with racism and fear of losing power. When he was talking about the issue that I had raised in his own country, he was saying that these people who have literally NOTHING are somehow the problem when he has everything. What threat would treating them with compassion create? What harm do love and positivity cause?
Is this why I’m single? Are my deeply held beliefs a relationship liability even though I have loads of friends and their are millions of people who agree with me? My father says that I am too quick to judge and that I don’t give guys a chance. I do decide quickly if I’m interested, but then one thing, like voting (theoretically) for Trump can turn me off.
With the guy from earlier this year, I was immediately drawn and attracted to him physically, but I never would have gone on a second date with him if all that was there was physical attraction. I have gone out with lots of good looking guys once. There are plenty of things that will make me want to see someone again and also plenty that will have be heading quickly for the door, but none of these are petty, I don’t think. I’m not looking for my twin, nor for someone perfect or devoid of flaws, but I am looking for someone with whom I can share life and I’m not sure how to do that with someone who is so far away from my point of view on issues that I think are incredibly important and are always related to humanity. And it isn’t about Trump. It’s about broad ideals that cross cultures and countries. I’m never going to agree that we should just accept it when a person or group of people is suffering. Could I accept that apathy from a mate?
Am I being kind? Fair? Compassionate? It’s a struggle. Some of my beliefs are quite strong, and I just don’t see how I could love someone and be with someone who was at the opposite end of the spectrum from me. I’m happy to debate issues, but if we are starting from two entirely different premises, how will we ever find common ground? How do the Conways do it!?!?
I’m not religious, and I know that for some men, religion is super important and that would be a deal breaker for them. I don’t want kids; also a potential deal breaker. We all have our absolutes, but if my goal is love and compassion and to be empathetic and to forgive and to generally “be a happy human,” can I do this if I write people off for their opinions and their values?
I often find myself missing the last guy, and after this date was no exception. I replay long and interesting conversations we had about any number of things, and since we were raised in different countries, with different backgrounds and are different races and different genders and have had very different adult lives, we often approached topics differently, but we came together at the highest level of ideals even if we maybe differed in the nuance or detail. To me, this was, as the most recent guy pointed out, interesting, but also did not create conflict.
I get very emotional in arguments. We could debate whether this is a good use of energy, but until I am less passionate and until I care less about others, I don’t see me being less emotional about topics that I care about. I really want to find someone with whom I share some common ground from whom I can learn and who may also learn from me. We are all growing. We are all on a journey. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I don’t think my ideas are necessarily “right,” but I will always think that the “right” answer is the kind one.
I have had two dates since that one with two other guys from two different countries (neither are from here), but I always find myself discouraged after dates like that last one, and I fear I go in more guarded to the ones immediately following.
In each of these cases, we had great conversation and were, essentially, in agreement, but with enough disagreement to make for interesting conversation. I could see myself friends with each of them, but that physical draw was lacking. I couldn’t possibly say why.
I wonder if maybe it is a mission impossible. Maybe we all have to settle if we want to find a partner, and maybe I am unwilling to do that and maybe that makes me impossible. And then I remember that there are men out there who hold my views, but that isn’t the only thing needed for a relationship; it is just one piece of the puzzle of love.
I’ll keep looking…
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