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If opposites attract

Posted in Life & Love

park benchI walked into the patient’s room, a pleasant-looking man of a certain age, and my gaze fell on the book sitting on top of the covers, a biography of Donald Trump. The tv was tuned to Fox News. I made the assumption this man and I had very different political views, confirmed by the conversation he quickly initiated. I was vague and neutral in my answers – I certainly don’t want to start an argument with a perfect stranger who just had a pace maker inserted in his chest – and walked out after a few minutes.

The moment was unremarkable. I interact with different people, of different opinions, every day: sometimes I get annoyed, other times I am troubled but, mostly, I let it go. We all do – unless it’s a matter of profound injustice or racism that compels me to speak up.

But the gentleman popped back into my mind a few nights ago, during a presentation I was dragged to (where I did not properly apply the “do I give a f***” principle). The subject was: 7 rules that will allow you to get along with everyone (especially your significant other). The speaker briefly touched on the subject of having meaningful and deep relationships with people who hold profoundly different views than ours and brought up her best friend, whom she had known since childhood, who was very conservative, while the speaker had more of a liberal bend. Still, they were best friends, relied on each other constantly and talked about everything. But politics.

I grew up in a family that is much more conservative than I am – I was always veering way too much to the left for their tastes. They don’t love me any less nor do I them, and we merrily engage in endless discussions that don’t sway either party. And of course I have friends who believe all kinds of things I deem to be lunacy, or merely don’t see eye to eye with me on a number of subjects. But none of them are part of my close inner circle, populated by people of my ilk.

opposites attract cartoonI tried to imagine sofagirl as a Trump supporter. Or a three-decade long relationship with her during which politics were never mentioned. It didn’t seem possible. I took it a step further and I imagined being married to someone with fundamental different values than mine, how it would work, and I just couldn’t see it. Can it be done, I wondered? Do mutual love and respect transcend civic values? Is the ability to listen politely and refrain from arguing enough? Does it make for more interesting cohabitation?
Above all, what is non negotiable when it comes to values and principles? And if diversity is the spice of life, how much diversity in our deepest relationships is too much diversity?

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15 Comments

  1. A very good question. I have to admit I don’t think I’d be able to be in a relationship with someone who saw the world in a much different way than I – after all, the hallmark of a good intimate relationship is (to me) attraction and common threads. Having said this, I do admit I am a leftist who has a very right wing friend (and I mean right wing: the man believes white people are better). After one day almost tearing his head off, we decided it would be safer to talk about cats (our common ground) and forget about the rest. However, he is, in my head, and always will be, “the guy with great taste in animals but horrid taste in politics…”

    February 25, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I also have an Italian friend whom I love dearly (actually, we dated for a few years) with rigthish views and vocal opposition to immigration. I like to remind him that I believe some of it is posturing and I cannot believe he is racist at heart. Or maybe it is me I am trying to convince, to justify my affection.

      February 26, 2016
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  2. camparigirl
    camparigirl

    I absolutely agree and that is exactly my point when I am accused of voting with my vagina – whatever that idiotic statement even means. I don’t have a brain? Assuming Hillary and Bernie are equal in my opinion, I would vote for Hillary. But, right now, American voters on both sides of the aisle seem to be hellbent on throwing away the old. And I am afraid we will all be swept in a maelstrom of unitended consequences. Or, maybe, just maybe, I am getting old.

    February 20, 2016
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    • ‘A maelstrom of unintended consequences’ what a wonderful phrase – and so true. Trump in the USA and Corbyn in the UK – what the f… is going on. If these guys are in charge we will have a very dangerous world. Come on everyone, sign up and support candidates who are semi-normal.

      February 20, 2016
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  3. Winston Moreton
    Winston Moreton

    We are all mad so tolerance is a vital ingredient to retaining one’s own version of sanity esp. at partner level. I think it’s OK tho to despise the intolerant, like Hitler and his Trumpetters

    February 19, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I am seriously mulling a move to New Zealand should Trump win next November. Will be looking for advice on Nov 9 should that happen.

      February 19, 2016
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      • Can I come along with you? It scares me to death to think there are people with whom I interact with daily would actually consider voting for him or the next contender. I cannot imagine this country run by either of those two nut bars-life as we know it will definitely be diminished. ღ

        February 19, 2016
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  4. Luciana Chapman
    Luciana Chapman

    I agree, I can see having differing views from parents and relatives that do not live under the same roof, but it is hard to imagine how it would be with a husband, or a friend you see daily, I do not know if the relationship would really be very deep and meaningful.

    February 19, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You were there – that comment struck me as so odd.

      February 19, 2016
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  5. Ellie Toffolo
    Ellie Toffolo

    Dear Claudia thanks for raising the issue, which I think is close to everyone’s hearts. I do believe the old ‘let’s agree to differ’ approach can and does work – my best most meaningful conversations have been with people of opposite opinions to mine, non believers to my creed, and all the interesting exchanges of opinion which enriched both parties.The point is we can all have different beliefs and respect them, if intelligence and the ability to discuss and understand are involved. Otherwise, I agree, it’s impossibile. Friendships – and indeed family relationships – have been severed for much less. Respect can and does make anything work. It is so much more interesting to discuss opinions with people who think differently in an uncomfortable zone, than with those whom we are in agreement with in our comfort zone, which is great, but no challenge. Growing up in Bristol, when we had debates at school we were taught to discuss pro if we were con and con if we were pro – best lesson I ever learnt. Unfortunately fast track forward to Italy, we had to live with Berlusconi (as you may have to live with Donald Trump!!!) and many people were, at a later stage, able to admit they made a mistake, but boy was it painful in the meantime ! They do say that rules were made so that people could trust one another – if I know you follow my 10 commandments then I recognize you as one of my own – but probably in more barbaric times. Now, I would say that whatever colour or creed you are, the only thing I’ll be looking for is intelligence, moral fibre and integrity. If I can see and feel those things, then we can agree to disagree and return to our separate homes. Best friends and partners? seeing as we’ll probably be sleeping under the same roof ? much easier to agree !!

    February 19, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Ellie, we should have you guest post! I agree that debating with people of different opinions enriches us, although I draw the line of tolerance to arguments bordering on irrationality, which is what happening with most of our political discourse. I was too smug for so long for living in a country that wasn’t plagued by a Berlusconi. And look at us now.

      February 19, 2016
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    • Ellie you make a good point vis a vis Berlusconi – but there is one HUGE difference, the USA is the most powerful nation on the planet, both economically and militarily. So as a non US citizen I get the chills thinking of what might happen if Trump became President. Make a mess in the US is one thing, but to adopt his views about the world is quite another.

      February 19, 2016
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      • camparigirl
        camparigirl

        As a US citizen, I am terrified. I look at the Bernie Sanders campaign and, while I agree with most of what he says, I am worried he will end up being the Democratic nominee and will be unable to withstand both the Trump assaults and the mistrust of all those who view him as a socialist. A Trump presidency makes a lot of places look suddenly appealing.

        February 19, 2016
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        • winston moreton
          winston moreton

          The choice of candidate must be merit based but if the candidates are all of equal merit should’nt a vote for diversity tip the balance? How many women have been president of USA?

          February 20, 2016
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      • Ellie Toffolo
        Ellie Toffolo

        I totally agree with you Herschelian – it was so bad living through 20 years of Berlusconi – we are still getting over the damage – but at least nobody else has to. People actually believed he would make them rich, change their lives, tell it like it is – they didn’t realize he had his own agenda. Same with Trump, I watch the US news and cringe………. and as you say the consequences on a worldwide level would be dire – and very dangerous. What’s the weather like in New Zealand, Claudia ??!!??!!

        February 20, 2016
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