We have different opinions about different things. The trick is to not get offended when people call them out or debate our preferences.

Broad-mindedness is possible if you consider yourself an evolving soul; one capable of mistakes and open to perspectives. But if your opinions define you so closely, that they become part of your identity, then you will take dissent personally. It will require graciousness to still listen even though your core has been triggered.

Let’s take a popular hot-button topic on social media – religion. One person says they believe in God; the other says they don’t. A civil conversation occurs when one respectfully explains why they believe or do not.

If you’ve noticed, the arguments start when statements are laced with scorn, dismissiveness, insults and condescension. They continue when one party says the other is ignorant or stupid, and then proceeds to explain why they have a more superior viewpoint. Also, why the other party should be more like them.

There will never be an altercation if both parties simply explain what and why they believe and leave it at that. The incessant need to convert people has created many disagreements. And very rarely does it come from a place of deep concern or consideration. More often than not, proselytization is delivered from a perch of control, disapproval or dominance.

Relationships Are Different Though.

Something interesting happens in close relationships. We would rather not argue. In my experience, people rarely seek others that have sharply divergent viewpoints. Rather, they increasingly find comfort with folks who share similar ideologies. I think it’s because close bonds provide rest. You don’t want to keep explaining yourself or “agree to disagree”. So while very disparate mindsets can co-exist in harmony, it usually involves a lot of compromise by two liberal souls whose beliefs and preferences are not their identity.

Empathy and understanding matter. But brushing core differences aside is the death knell of relationships. If something important bugs you, talk about it. Holler from the rooftops or put pen to paper. Say it and document it. At the very least, table it for discussion.

We Just Grew Apart…Yeah Right.

When a relationship ends and people say, “We just grew apart”, they aren’t telling the full truth. Chances are, they knew when things started going wrong. The difficult conversations that never held. The times they couldn’t share what was important, because the other person couldn’t relate or didn’t care. The emotional neglect. The absence of scheduled quality time. The consistent, “We’ll see when we see.” and hence, the unavailability during life’s seasons.

A mentor once cautioned me that if a person is really my friend, there are some life events I cannot be absent for. If I can’t show up for those important happenings then what will I show up for?

Two people who were once very close can become the last to know what’s going on in each other’s lives. So, growing apart is a series of very specific things, and when they start happening, we can allow the relationship to die for two reasons. We either lack the energy to change the tide or we do not consider the person important enough to fight for them.

Should You Have Begun That Relationship?

Some people should never have gotten together in the first place. And yes, it can happen serendipitously. You get to know someone and only intend to know them from afar. But over time, they assume you are friends and it’s difficult extricating yourself without hurting them. So you ghost them hoping they will get the message. But they don’t. They just presume you are an infrequent caller. Sigh! Please find a way to clarify that you aren’t friends to forestall future hurt.

At times, you meet someone who doesn’t really fulfill your emotional needs. But you keep them around for companionship and to avoid being alone. You’re just waiting for someone better to come along. This can be cruel. Let them go.

There are also friendships that are formed in crisis. You were kind to someone and they interpreted that to mean you are their friend. I’m not sure how you’ll clarify this, because the person who got attached will surely get hurt.

In Conclusion…

You must distinguish between companions, connections and friends. Make your way out of any relationship that does not suit you and is not reciprocal. Do not turn a crisis into a friendship. Get to know people who genuinely bring you joy and peace; not drama and problems. Run from those who never have time for you and fail to prioritize you. You deserve better.

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