Ask Wendy

How Can I Keep Political Fighting Out of My Relationships?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
How Can I Keep Political Fighting Out of My Relationships?
Hey Wendy

My girlfriend of two years and I are in our 30s and have very different political views. While we’ve disagreed in the past, we’ve always seemed to be able to work it out.

We were at a holiday dinner six months ago and we ended up speaking with a close friend of mine and his girlfriend. Unfortunately, during the dinner, the topic of politics came up with my girlfriend being on one side of the aisle and my friend’s girlfriend on the other. It turned unpleasant and we all left at the first chance.

Recently I had a bunch of people over, and I invited my friend and his girlfriend. My girlfriend is upset because she was uncomfortable with their presence and thinks I care more about my friends than I do her. In all honesty, I thought enough time had passed that my girlfriend would be more open to seeing them, especially since my friend’s girlfriend apologized, but it wasn’t the case.

Should I have run it by my girlfriend before inviting them? Does she have a right to exclude them from our future events? Help!

Brent E. — San Francisco, CA

Hey Brent,

You get to decide who your friends are and who you want to spend time with. Your girlfriend also gets to decide who her friends are and who she wants to spend time with.

The answer is this: Next time, don’t surprise her. You don’t need to get her permission, but you also don’t want to have her feel ambushed. Give her a heads up that you’re planning to invite them, and she can decide if she wants to attend the party or if that’s a spa day for her. This can work even if you live together. My partner and I don’t deny each other our friends, and there has been the occasional friend of his whom I don’t want to hang out with, so I don’t. And I don’t put my partner through the paces about it.

About this whole “she thinks I care more about my friends than I do her” piece…that concerns me the most. She’s in her thirties? With maturity comes autonomy in our relationships outside of our sexual and/or romantic partnership—autonomy that is valuable and necessary. I’m guessing you don’t feel like you’re somehow pitting your GF against your friends, and I have a feeling that’s not your intention. See if you can get her to see it your way. If her attitude is one of needing to be your everything, then this is a red flag.

Good luck!

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