View Full Version : Having "That Conversation"

09-28-2011, 06:54 PM
So I had a thought today that I wanted to get some different people's opinions on. And yes, it pertains to politics and religion, specifically in the context of a relationship. And since, on this board, we seem to discuss people who discuss religion even more than religion itself, I can only assume you guys have experience with this matter. So I figured it's as good a place as any to ask it :cool:

Anyway, the dilemma is such: When is a good time in a relationship to discuss politics and religion? My biggest concern is twofold: on the one hand, I don't want to be "that guy" and bring up something divisive like religion or politics, if for no other reason than that it makes me seem like a boring, stuffy liberal. I don't usually use politics as a conversation starter if I'm trying to get to know someone for the first time. If it goes that way over the course of discussion, fine, but I generally try to avoid that subject at first --- that way, even if we DO disagree, we know each other at least well enough to make a decision about the other person as a whole, and not judge each other based on one small issue we might not agree on and that probably won't even affect our day-to-day lives.

On the other hand, though....obviously, these are divisive topics, and I'm a busy guy. Since I have no way of knowing exactly how much of a difference in opinion the other person will tolerate, I feel like that's something that should be discussed sooner rather than later --- everybody has unique expectations about what they want in a relationship. If religious or political ideology is a make-or-break deal for you, I need to know that and we need to get that out of the way, simply because I don't want to waste time and money on a person who's going to dump me as soon as they find out I voted for Barack Obama anyway.* I mean, that's not a problem for me --- it's not like your vote for McCain is going to have anything to do with where we go for dinner, or how we raise kids. It's important, yes, but not universally, and (for me at least) not in a make-or-break sense.

(*=Yes, this happened to me once --- I was at a party, talking to this army girl, and we ended up swapping phone numbers on our way out, and her friend said something about Bush Jr. and I made a crack, she asked me if I voted for Obama and I said yeah, and she said, "yeah, I don't think this is gonna work out after all.")

I'm just getting to the point where I'm sick of just winging it and playing it cool, only to reach a conflict and find that, if I had just brought up the subject earlier, we could have saved the both of us a lot of trouble and heartbreak. A girl I dated recently, for example (I just got dumped by her about two weeks ago via text message), decided she didn't want me to be around her kid (a 2yr old) because I posted a Bad Religion video on facebook and quoted a line where he says he doesn't believe in god (the video was Do What You Want, and I probably don't need to quote the line), and after that she cut me off on Facebook and just started ignoring me completely. And then she emailed me a few days ago, out of the blue, just to say (quote), "I really wish you hadn't messed up. I was really enjoying getting to know you." The way she says it, you'd think I did something horrible or violent or disgusting. Never mind how condescending it sounds.

So again, I return to the question....I understand that the closer you are to the beginning of a relationship, the farther away from divisive topics you should try to stay. But I also understand that the more divisive a topic is by nature, the more potential it has to become a serious problem for one or both of us. So how the hell do you work this out? Is my only option really to just wing it until the issue comes up and then hope it works out? Or is there some way to get to the point without coming across like a douchebag? I mean, I don't want the first words out of my mouth on a date to be, "hey, just so you know, I'm an atheist liberal democrat, I voted for Obama and I'm pro-gay and pro-choice, and if any of that is a problem then fuck off." I'm not that kind of person and I don't feel like that kind of person. But if I don't say anything, just because of my past experience, it's going to weigh on my mind one way or the other until it comes up naturally, and I'm not going to feel really comfortable opening up to somebody until I know that they're actually going to accept me regardless of my political or religious alignment.

inb4 "move out of the south." Everyone keeps telling me that but it's really not an option, and besides, I like where I live. I just have trouble balancing my social expectations with those of the people around me, and I'm trying to work on that a little bit. Moving somewhere else won't help me with that.

So conclusion: pretty much what I said above. I feel like the only real option is to just keep taking chances on people, like playing roulette, just waiting for the subject to come up naturally, and hoping it goes over well. I understand there's a certain limit to how much two people can understand each other, and that there are social standards for how to go about breaking down those "walls" between people. I guess I just don't completely "get" those standards. I mean, I grasp the concept, but the details elude me. So am I on the right track, is it really just that simple and I need to get used to the risk-taking mentality? Or am I just really inept at this sort of thing?

Thanks for any (if any) thoughts, feelings, opinions, jeers, sarcastic observations, accusations, etc. you may have. Fire away if you feel so inclined :cool:

09-29-2011, 05:06 AM
I'm a social cannonball. When I'm not sure I prefer to crash through the next potentially uncomfortable topic. Because the truth is that it mostly doesn't bother me to talk about most topics, so if it is going to be a problem I may as well know straight away.

09-29-2011, 09:27 AM
As far as I know there are 2 solutions to your problem. Either find her clitoris or break her arm.

09-29-2011, 10:57 AM
But don't break your fingers. I wanted to say this is an answer worth another red star.

"I really wish you hadn't messed up." sounds as stupidly as "I'm sorry that you are stupid" instead of "I'm sorry I said you're stupid." Poor kid. I don't believe in God like seriously, but I'm a Christian, I think that prayer is some kind of positive thinking and I respect people who believe in anything only if they get that that's the matter of personal beliefs not how the world should look like, at least without exaggeration.

"hey, just so you know, I'm an atheist liberal democrat, I voted for Obama and I'm pro-gay and pro-choice, and if any of that is a problem then fuck off."
Maybe not as first words but that's better than some empty talk :D And I'm saying thus despite watching a lot of 'Entourage' recently.

Well, for example I was shocked when I've found out that my best best best friend is pro corrida. Then I was amazed how reasonable our discussion about it was. ;p Without trying to being polite or changing attitude towards each other. And our views on that topic are kinda extreme, my shock was huge, so it may be count as religion or politics. I mean, people who don't even try to understand your point at all, are not worth your efforts and that's as simply as that.

09-29-2011, 11:17 AM
As far as I know there are 2 solutions to your problem. Either find her clitoris or break her arm.

And you might say communatheism is her new favorite philosphy.

09-29-2011, 11:42 AM
So you want to start a relationship with someone who you think may want to break up with you later over some kind of belief or policy? Why not have the conversation before the relationship as one of the many things you should find out before you enter into a relationship with a person?

As far as I know there are 2 solutions to your problem. Either find her clitoris or break her arm.


09-29-2011, 02:26 PM
As far as I know there are 2 solutions to your problem. Either find her clitoris or break her arm.

Okay, I'm down with #1 but why break her arm? It's probably a reference I'm missing, I know, -10 injoke penalty.

So you want to start a relationship with someone who you think may want to break up with you later over some kind of belief or policy? Why not have the conversation before the relationship as one of the many things you should find out before you enter into a relationship with a person?

That's kind of the dilemma, see....going back to this last lady as an example, we talked for awhile about simple everyday stuff (nothing super serious or controversial, just work and entertainment and light stuff), and she seemed interested in me, and I was interested in her. So that's what I mean by "relationship," at this point it wasn't like we were living together or anything, we'd only been on one date. But like I said, I don't necessarily think just blurting out about politics and religion is a good move, at least not right away --- if nothing else, it can give people the impression that you're obsessed with politics or religion (like, "if that's his first resort for conversation, then he really has nothing else," etc.). I just feel like it's bad taste. I feel like there should be a more artful way of working it into the flow of conversation, but I never can seem to find the right time or place. It's just an awkward subject. So I'm kinda just brainstorming about it.

Like I said, I realize it's an important thing to discuss, but I also don't want to be downtown or at a party and be walking around to people and asking, "are you a Republican? Yeah? Okay, nevermind. How about you? Do you believe in god? Okay, next. You, are you pro-choice or anti-choice?" So on and so forth. I'm being hyperbolic of course, but I really just draw a blank when I try to think of how to tackle this subject without being too headstrong about it.

As an aside, though, why do you keep trying to date bible-thumpers? What are you putting out there that keeps bringing these people into your orbit?

I think most of it is just my community....as I've said before, I live just down the street from a rehab center which is run by a local church (which is also just down the street), and since work is the only place I really go anymore (and if I do go hang out somewhere, it's usually with friends from work), I'm pretty much always surrounded by these types of people. At first I decided not to get involved with any of them or their friends, but after awhile it started to feel like I was just being prejudiced, so I decided to relax my standards *just a little bit* and see if I could make it work with someone whose beliefs aren't *just exactly* lined up with mine.

Also, some people I've met through Facebook (friends of friends of friends, that sort of thing)....that's actually where I met the last chick that dumped me (the one with the 2yo kid). Before that, I actually ran into one of my old friends from the local SSA chapter, who didn't realize it was me. She contacted me online, we talked for awhile, and I eventually asked her if she was "looking for someone." She answered me, decidedly sternly, that she was "not looking for anyone," that she was an independent woman and she would find someone when the time was right. And I don't know entirely why but that irritated me. I thought (but didn't say), I didn't mean "are you literally out on the street right now, looking for someone," I just meant, are you dating someone or are you single, are you open or taken? Didn't matter anyway, cuz she stopped talking to me after that.

09-30-2011, 06:30 AM
I have been very lucky to find that my girlfriend has nearly the same religious and political views that I hold. We didn't talk about it at first, mostly because we were 15 at the time and ignorant to politics. It just worked out that way, without any of us really affecting the other. If she had different views on religion or politics, I don't think I could be with her, because religion and politics really tell so much about one's values, view on humans and intellect.

EDIT: And "that conversation" normally refers to someone having the talk about bird and bees with their son or daughter, right?

09-30-2011, 10:14 AM
what? hot chicks use cupid.com?! *whistles 'winds of change'*

09-30-2011, 05:14 PM
Yeah while on a first date or approaching a girl, stay away from divisive topics like "are you taken". Obviously if she says yes to a drink or whatever she's interested.

Right now I can't think of a 'that conversation' type of thing. But then again, I've been in a relationship for so long, I'm not really sure what I'd do if I was actually single. God, being in a relationship has allowed me to pursue my nerddom beyond the point of no return. We alread know magic cards are a dealbreaker and I'm not even the world champ. (Got Garruk the Ruthless in a booster pack today!!)

EDIT: Most likely candidates for that conversation:
comic books, magic cards, star trek obsession, fantasy fixation, that creepy portrait of me in my living room, the fact that almost all of my hobbies are simply things I couldn't afford as a kid, my factory job despite two degrees (fuck you ecoonomy! the 'system', not the class, and by class I mean the course, not the socio-economic denotation)

09-30-2011, 05:42 PM
That part of the map would read HERE THERE BE MONSTERS. I've had good friends get clean and go through AA, and the cardinal rule of being in recovery is not to get into a relationship while you're going through the first year of recovery. And I'd say it's a bit of an oversimplification to say that people who go to a church-sanctioned rehab center may have belief systems that are only slightly off from yours....

Yeah definitely, I've never approached or asked out anyone who's been there recently (with the sole exception of someone whom I asked out, who later ended up going to jail and then going through there....long story, but I promise I had nothing to do with it! She went to jail for check fraud). I've actually only asked out two people I actually know from work, period --- the aforementioned, and another one that was way too complicated to go into detail about (I went into *some* detail about in another topic & I'd rather not retread that). She had been through the program, but it was like 2 years ago, & she had just got dumped by this other guy. We got along so I figured, why not? Turns out, there were several good reasons why not :o

I kind of see why she'd react like that. You're talking, and instead of asking her out, you ask her if she's looking for love. If this comes up again, you might see different results if you just straight up asked her out for a drink or dinner.

Well, for what it's worth I didn't mean anything by it :o We were already talking about relationships, and I meant it like, "are you looking for something serious, or are you just dating casually/hooking up, etc.?" I guess I can understand her response, but I still don't really think it was a totally unfair question.