Integrity Vs. Friendship: Venting


#1

Being straight up blunt here, I’m starting this topic as a means of venting; if others want to chime in with similar stories, I think that that would be great. But I’m writing this because it’s better than picking up the phone and reopening wounds.

Short version: I’m wondering how many of us have lost friends and good relationships of all kinds because people on any end of the political spectrum find themselves unable to avoid being hyper-sensitive.

I had a very good friend, let’s call him Chris. We’d been good gaming and book buddies for, oh, about eight years. He introduced me to a dozen of my favorite authors and TV series, and we routinely watched various sci-fi and drama series and had excellent discussions regarding themes, plotting, characters and so forth.

However, I’m liberal, and he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. And, one of the things that was the basis of our friendship was the mutual agreement to never discuss politics beyond a certain point, because there was no way that we’d be able to agree.

Just under two years ago, I inadvertently shared something to Facebook, after my mother was cajoling me to use it more often. It was on the ideological roots of the Tea Party being closer to the Confederacy than to the Founding Fathers.

And Chris went ballistic on my facebook page.

This is the moral and social equivalent of me posting a picture of your face photoshopped onto a Waffen SS uniform. It is offensive to a degree that I refuse to describe because the language required would destroy our respect for one another. I am assuming you are only posting it to elicit commentary and discussion; if you actually agree with what the linked post says then, well, I’m sorry, but it’s been nice knowing you.

(emphasis mine)
I am a Jewish man who is the descendant of four Holocaust survivors, and he knew this. Using the rhetoric that I bolded pretty much immediately destroyed my remaining respect for him. So I politely replied that, yes, I did agree with it, and that, yes, it had been nice knowing him, but that that friendship was now over, as I was not personally accusing him of being a genocidal murderer of his people and that I could not forgive that statement.

Having called his bluff, he spent the next week trying to contact me to apologize, but… yeah. That’s not something you can really apologize for, especially when it comes with the explicit statement of “Censure yourself in your own space or lose my friendship.”

So I refused to compromise my integrity to maintain the friendship, and sent him a very polite email telling him that he had once been a good friend, but was now actively toxic, but thanking him for the books and games that he had introduced me to.

And now… now with the nomination of Der Trumper…

Now I am actively resisting calling him up and asking him if he supports his short-fingered tribal fascist that he resembles so much, because, perhaps, he might want to look in the mirror to see those lightning bolts on his shoulder pads.

For starters.

:pensive:

So, yeah. Part of me wants to nastily twist the knife as much as possible, because that betrayal hurt, and now, with the nomination of Trump, I want to see how much of a hypocrite my former friend is, in much the same way that you stare at roadkill or a horrific accident, even though you know you won’t like what you see.

But I want to be a better person than that.

So, rather than cause pain for my own satisfaction, I’m sharing this, and also wondering how many others have similar tales, of friendships lost to the maw of hungry partisanship and tribalism.


Can you accept your loved one’s political choices?
#2

Some friendships have a lifetime, but I’m always distressed when they die.


#3

I lost a good friend over the weapons of mass destruction debacle. She believed that Bush et al wouldn’t lie. Then when it came out that they did indeed lie, she doubled down. There was another issue at hand because she was dating a Hoover Fellow, who was chummy with Cheney and his Bohemian Grove ilk. She basically told me that I was ignorant about the facts because her boyfriend was more educated than me and he was “in the loop.” So I told her that since she found me so unenlightened, we should just part ways as friends. She really drank up the neocon kool-aid.


#4

Doesn’t sound like much of a loss, to be frank.

I guess I’m lucky; most of the friendships I’ve lost have been over interpersonal issues, not politics or religion.

And over the years, I’ve gotten very particular about whom I befriend.


#5

I tend not to have friendships, per se.

Friendships involve getting to know people, and the more I get to know people, the less I like them.

I’m not good at overlooking faults, which is a major fault of my own. It’s made finding someone to spend my life with Hell, and the one serious relationship I’ve been in… It’s excruciating to watch a relationship die from the inside, largely because the other person can’t live up to an impossible ideal. Not that I think it’d’ve worked out had I been less exacting (there were some pretty large differences that we could never work out), but it just made me hate myself that I got so annoyed with the trivial things.

I often feel that I’m better off single and lonely, because I have no choice but to live with my own flaws, but I am not very hopeful about my ability to deal with someone else’s flaws. I feel like if it goes on for long enough, my respect for that person will slowly drain away until the relationship is a lifeless hull. And, to paraphrase Groucho, I’m probably not worthy of anyone who would meet my standards.

I’m going to give it a few more kicks at the can, but colour me resigned.

Sorry for going off-topic, but I guess I needed to vent, too.


#6

Alas, I know that feeling far too well.

Luckily, every so often someone comes along and reaffirms my faith in humanity.


#7

Your experience reminds me of something that, while much less extreme, still upset me deeply. I was talking to a work acquaintance whom I’ll call Jane about another work acquaintance. Let’s call him Jim. Jim was gay and, at the time, battling a very aggressive form of cancer.

I was also recovering from my own bout with a much more treatable cancer.

Jane was feeling resentful about something and said to me, “Jim’s going to die soon. He’d better start repenting.”

I’m still unsure how to respond to this or even if it deserves a response. And I’m afraid it’s too personal a story to be any use to you or anyone else, but thank you for creating an opportunity to share it.


#8

Oh yeah, been there too.

But I think sometimes we cling to friends because of familiarity…but we all change over time.

Sometimes we’re just not compatibly crazy anymore. If the friction is high and the respect is low then it’s probably best for everyone to move on. Then you can focus on new friends.

Some of us here think you’re kinda neat! :slight_smile:


#9

I became good friends with a younger fellow nursing student whose favorite 2012 primary candidate was Rick Santorum. And then I became good friends with his entire family. As in ‘come by whenever you like, by the way you’re invited to Thanksgiving’ good friends.

We talked politics, religion, whole natural foods (common ground there) and pretty much whatever we felt like. It was as if we both had a silent agreement not to judge the other. I always made sure to talk within his frame of reference. So when he talked about what he felt God was trying to tell him, I listened and asked how he felt about that sensed communication.

I spent an embarrassing length of my adult life figuring all this out. Gotta say, it’s a nice view once you get there, though, and makes life a whole lot easier.


#10

#11

No, this is some bullshit. You don’t deserve that. There are always cool people out there. You just gotta do the work to find them. Follow your interests.


#12

It sounds like you’ve got a nine-ton Eeyore on your back. Not that you probably didn’t already know this but as someone who’s dealt with mood crap their whole life, I know it’s important that you know that we now understand this. And you took the critical step of sharing all this with us, so thank you and kudos to you for that.

Now I’ll tell you something else you almost certainly already know: we project in others what we resent of ourselves. You say you have no choice but to live with your own flaws. You say you’ve decided you had no choice but to not live with another’s flaws. ‘No choice’ is one of the many prisons we construct for ourselves. How do I know this? Because I’m an inmate myself.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. Maybe you already ‘know’ this but do you believe it? Because if you do, then you necessarily believe that it’s possible.

I leave this point for last: don’t feel guilty about feeling resigned. Seriously. It’s okay. Some days it’ll just feel like that. When you notice that those days are increasingly further apart, something’s going right.


#13

Mood diaries FTW.

Here’s something you should know.
You, personally, have made a positive impact on someone’s life.
You, personally, have worth and value.
And through you contributing positively to the community here, you, personally, have played a part in likely saving someone’s life.
Know this. And I mean, fucking KNOW IT. Cause it’s truth.

So, single, yeah, OK, maybe at the moment. But you’re less alone than you might think.

Yeah, nah. Seems to me if your posts are any indication of your character, then I can’t buy that.


#14

@nimelennar, maybe you’re right about not being able to sustain a traditional relationship. But then again, that sort of relationship is a hell of a lot less traditional than most folks imagine; like most such social constructs, the notion is rarely questioned, and commonly assumed to have always been the case.

Perhaps you’re just one of many folks who just aren’t cut out to thrive in the confines of the default prescription? Maybe it makes more sense to ditch the notions of romantic love and monogamism, and just put sex on the continuum of friendship? Reframing the issue in those terms might possibly have everything falling into place for you.

IMO society’s current default is a set of idealistic and unreasonable expectations that most folks will struggle to live up to. And despite a promising start in the 60s, social norms have still almost completely failed to integrate contraception’s implications, which in my book is epic fail.


#15

To add my voice to the pile-on of support, I agree with the others and also feel that @Kimmo hit on something I was thinking before I read his comment.

There’s a tendency to assume that being alone is a bad thing. Maybe it is for most but not for everyone. Maybe being single is your preferred state, and if so I hope you can find peace and happiness with yourself.

Also you’re not entirely alone. Internet relationships may lack some of the advantages of “real” relationships but you seem to be very active here and perhaps other places. Your comments here have helped others, and you have been able to share and connect with others.

I hope that helps.


#16

Living alone is one thing. Living by oneself is another.

I used to think something was wrong with me that I didn’t have a large circle of friends and an even larger circle of acquaintances. Some days I still feel that way. (Recall what I said above about ‘bad days’.) I don’t have any difficulties socializing with people and any social anxiety I might have usually disappears as soon as I’m engaged with someone because, I dunno, my attention process just works that way. I can be extroverted if I have to be and enjoy it. It’s just not my default setting.

The truth is: I really enjoy time by myself. Not alone. Just by myself. Some people are just wired that way. I still ‘need people’ and miss my friends, it’s just that my well takes a lot longer to run dry.


#17

Seriously, my own brother. Although I came to realize that his focus on hyper partisan politics is just one of the many tools he uses to keep other people at a ‘safe’ distance, and his own paranoid delusions about any number of things, soothed. Current distance between us >2 years.


#18

Hi all,

Thanks for all the support, but I think, rather than what I was actually saying, you guys were picking up more on my bad mood. Which is fair, I was in a horrible mood yesterday (I haven’t been sleeping well all week, and of the two tasks I set for my self yesterday, I accomplished exactly neither, but rather spent literally all day at the computer). Or I just worded it poorly.

Thanks for the support, but, except on really bad days (or when I’m actually trying to ask a girl I’m interested in out) I don’t really have self-esteem issues. I know I’m awesome. The stuff I said about “no choice but to live with my flaws” — that’s not resignation, that’s realism. That’s just me admitting that I can spend every day improving, I can lessen some of the flaws I have and completely eliminate a few others. I’m awesome, and I can be better — but I’m never going to be perfect, and expecting otherwise would kill me. So that’s what I mean when I say that I’ve no choice but to live with imperfection: the other choice is not, and will never be, an option. I’m going to live forever, dammit, because I’m too awesome to die at any point in the next million years.

Again, I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there that I’m worthy of, who are worthy of me. People compatible with me, people I can love and trust and respect. I know those people are out there. The problem isn’t whether there is someone out there for me; the problem is that I’d probably be judgemental, and think less of her than she deserves. I feel like I’m expecting perfection, which isn’t fair, because I’m not perfect. On the plus side, I’m highly intelligent, talented, in decent physical shape, a singer, an author, an actor, a baker, a Scouter and a Ski Patroller. I don’t drink, or smoke, or gamble, or use much profanity, and I look damned good in a suit. I’m a pretty awesome person, but I’m also not perfect.

On the minus side, I am, as I’ve said, judgemental and intelligent. This also leads me sometimes to be controlling, because I want things done a certain way, and generally think my way is best. The judging also extends to appearance, so I’m often quite shallow: if I do fall for someone, that person will almost certainly have a knockout smile and be well-coiffed. I’m reclusive and unambitious — I like long periods of alone time, and I have no great desire for wealth or power or influence. While I’m generally dependable, I don’t like being responsible for other people, because whenever I’ve been in management roles, other people have disappointed me. I’m lethargic: If someone asks for help, I am there in a minute to help them, but I will not offer the help when unasked for, and given nothing obvious to do, I will sit around and read rather than go out and find something to do. I’m also human, with all of the cognitive defects that implies.

These are my faults, and I own them. I’m sure I can minimize or eliminate some of them given time and effort, but if I got rid of all of them, I’d get rid of what makes me me, and I don’t want to do that (cf. “I’m awesome”). I can live with all of those faults, so I will, although I am trying to do more on my own initiative.

But, in my last relationship, those same kind of little flaws just grated at me. Now, it’s true, I’m working with a sample size of one here; I’ve only been in one relationship worthy of even being called “dating,” and that lasted about 18 months. It’s entirely possible that the larger flaws in our relationship magnified her own smaller flaws; I don’t really have a healthier relationship to compare it to. That’s what I mean that I’m better off single and lonely; compared to me in a relationship (sample size eighteen months), me being single (sample size thirty-ish years) is better, even with the loneliness.

As I said:

and I meant that. I have not given up; if that’s what you’ve taken from “resigned” then that’s certainly not the case. I will try, and try, and try again. But what I am resigned to is the fact that I may have to do this alone. That I may have to make myself happy. That no one is going to swoop into my life and fix everything, to be perfect herself and yet tolerant of all of my flaws. That wouldn’t be hope or optimism; that would be fantasy, and while I like to read fantasy, I know better than to walk out into the forest and expect to see unicorns.

As much as I appreciate the suggestion, I’m a philophile. I’m in love with “love.” And, while some darkly cynical part of my consciousness ranks storybook love at about the same level of plausibility as “unicorns,” I do not believe that; I do not let myself believe that. By just entertaining that idea, I can feel the cold, slimy claws of despair reaching out of the shadows to claim me. I reject those claws, and drive them back into their dark home in the pit of my soul with the light that just the idea of love keeps burning in my heart. It may be an illusion, but I get the feeling that if it is, that illusion is necessary to my sanity.

Plus, as I said. I’m thirty-one and I’ve had one relationship in that time, largely because of the height of my standards and the depth of my social awkwardness. Where the hell am I going to find a group of multiple people that can clear both the mountain and the chasm, or that I’m willing to make that monumental leap for?

And, finally, thank you all for your support. It means a lot. Really, it does. It helps. As I said, yesterday was a bad day, and after a good night’s sleep, the world is a bit brighter again, and some of that is the light that y’all have helped shine at me.

It may be that I never find someone to share my life with, and that’d be tragic, I think, for both of us. But I’m happy (within certain bounds of “happy”), and, if that’s my fate…


#19


#20

Good on you. You took a petty urge and turned it into something that’s obviously filling a need here and helping others. If only your former friend had that much maturity you might still be friends.

Well done sir.