I like to think I’m the kind of person who can get along with a wide variety of people. Outside of romantic relationships, I can’t really think of a time in which I had to deliberately sever a relationship. This year, I’ve had to seriously evaluate a friendship and decide if it is worth keeping. What do you do when you have a friend who (seems to) deliberately yank your chain with no regard to your request to stop?
I make a concerted effort to not discuss politics much on my blog or elsewhere because *I know* I can get passionate about it. I have many good friends whose political views are in direct opposition to mine. Heck, my mom and I differ on most political issues. Difference isn’t the problem, I’m just careful to steer clear of the topic of politics especially in election years. Unless I know I am talking with someone who can debate the issues without the conversation devolving into repeating half-truths and lies about the candidates (both the one of my choice and his/her opponent).
I say the above because as passionate as I can be, I would never, ever place politics over friendship. I don’t need friends who think the same way I think. Furthermore, I don’t regard my friends whose views are different from mine as some kind of a challenge to get them to see things my way. Again, I just steer clear unless the political conversation is reasonable and both parties are willing to engage in it. To me, it’s just not worth the strife that it can cause in friendships.
I have a “friend” whose views not only differ from mine, but her way of expressing them are offensive to me. There was a time when I would debate with her. Even then, the views that undergirded her politics often floored me with how offensive they were. I tried to stay above the fray, but I’ll admit that in the heat of the moment, my arguments were fueled by anger, frustration, and arrogance rather than calm, cool, reason and facts. I am not proud of that. These debates left me feeling ugly and they took up an inordinate amount of time that I did not have. But still, I wanted to maintain the frienship because outside of politics, I liked this person.
Finally, I asked her to stop sending me poltiical things. I could not continue, and I asked her to stop for the sake of our friendship. It took a few times of having to be very firm and serious, but finally she got the message. She stopped. I was relieved. We did not have any contact, but that was okay for the time. What I needed was a long cooling off, but I felt better thinking that if one of us needed a friend, we could still be there for one another, even if the friendship was on temporary hiatus. That’s how I thought we had left it.
Then this week I have received two more messages, both political, from her. I have had no contact with her whatsoever in months and this is the first I hear from her. Furthermore, her rants are directed at precisely what she knows my political views to be. There are several recipients to these messages, but why would you send something that says, “Anyone who supports Candidate A is stupid because…” to someone you know supports Candidate A? Am I wrong here, or is she just deliberately yanking my chain?
So, it’s a no-brainer, right? Just sever ties. She clearly isn’t intersted in me or my feelings, or in treating me like a friend… Just delete her from my inbox and block all her messages, right? So why do I feel so dang bad doing so? What exactly is it that I am worried about? It feels like some kind of failure on my part to have to go to such lengths to keep myself from being provoked. Why can’t I just read it, disagree, and move on with life? Or why can’t I just burn the bridge and breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t have to worry about hearing all that garbage ever again?
Why do I feel like, despite my attempts at a peaceful truce, her failure to respect the boundary I have set is somehow my failure?