DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I got into an explosive fight the other night over what is happening with Roe V. Wade. I had never asked – or thought to ask him – his thoughts on abortion. We’ve been together almost a year and we don’t talk politics much. But, the other night I was expressing how scared I am at the thought of it being overturned. He went on this long rant about women and abortion and being “pro-life.” It was actually hard to listen to him discuss how I basically don’t have the right over my own body. I flipped out and left the room. He’s been texting me all week, but I am having a hard time getting that conversation out of my head. He has apologized, but how can I be with someone who thinks so little of me? My sister told me I should just forgive him and move forward, but how can I? This feels like a big hurdle to me. Any advice? –HARD TO UNDERSTAND
DEAR HARD TO UNDERSTAND: My cousin, who is a psychologist, once gave me a great piece of relationship advice. I will share it with you: “It isn’t enough to love each other to make it last. You need to have the same vision of the future.” In this case, the very future is at stake. If you don’t agree over something as fundamental as bodily autonomy, I fear this issue may continue to pop up as the relationship progresses. Where does he stand on other issues related to human rights and how does this play into how he treats others as he moves in the world? No, we don’t need to agree on everything or look at everything from the same lens. But, the right to govern your own body and create your own destiny is a fundamental part of your existence as a human being. It’s hard to have a partnership when you aren’t viewed as an equal. Unless he’s willing to understand and respect your bodily autonomy, I don’t see how this relationship will be beneficial or healthy for either of you.
DEAR NATALIE: My friend came to a bridal shower at my house recently for our mutual friend. She said she hadn’t been “feeling well” all day. I asked her politely to put on a mask. She refused. She argued that since most of the event was outdoors, a mask wouldn’t make a difference. I asked again. She refused. I then asked her to leave. I had elderly people at the event as well as my pregnant cousin. She left, extremely angry with me. I haven’t spoken to her in a week, but I found out through our mutual friend that she tested positive for Covid-19. I tested myself to be sure that she didn’t give it to me, but I am (thankfully!) negative. Should I reach out and extend an olive branch and well wishes? I know I made the right call – especially hearing that she was sick – but I also feel angry at her for putting us all in that position. Any thoughts on how to smooth things over? –SICK OF IT ALL
DEAR SICK OF IT ALL: Call her. Let her know that you found out that she was sick and that you wanted to check in on her. She may be taken aback by that, which will make her less defensive. See what she says. She may feel embarrassed about how she reacted at your party. The reality is that we are expected to individually pull ourselves out of this collective public health crisis – and it doesn’t work that way. I feel for her, but you did the right thing by asking her to mask up. The fact that she wouldn’t is puzzling to me. People are kidding themselves if they think this is over. We have now normalized so much suffering and grief, it is sometimes hard to find empathy. Try anyway. Lead with love and not with “I told you so.” She may feel differently the next time someone asks her to put on a mask.
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