DEAR HARRIETTE: Am I wrong to think that I could find true love with my high school sweetheart after being separated for more than 30 years? I am not a romantic normally, but recently I ran into my old flame, and sparks flew. I truly loved this guy when I was in 10th grade, and it broke my heart when college came and we parted ways. Nothing bad happened -- just life, really.
When I saw this man again at a work event, I was shocked. We had not seen each other since back in the day, and there he was. We struck it up real nice, and we have been dating. Do I dare believe that this could be true? I don’t want to get hurt, but it feels real. We enjoy each other’s company and have been spending a lot of time together. How can I tell if this is for keeps? -- Old Flame
DEAR OLD FLAME: Stay in the present moment. It’s fine to remember your love from the past, but don’t get caught up comparing then to now. Instead, trust the moment you are in. As you spend time together, notice what you enjoy about being in each other’s company. Pay attention to the things that mesh between you -- and those that don’t. This is important for the long term. It is natural for couples to share some interests and behaviors and not be so simpatico regarding others. It is smart for you to recognize the difference between the two.
Make sure you talk about your hopes for the future and how you think you fit into each other’s lives. If you are open and honest and willing to see if this relationship will work, you will find out. Be sure to base your assessment on what’s happening now, rather than what you remember from the past.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was hanging out with a new friend the other day, and when we started talking, I learned that he is a Republican. I stopped in my tracks. I thought that all my friends shared my somewhat liberal Democratic views. Before I knew his political affiliation, I would say he fit that description, too. We share many values, but I draw the line with what’s happening in our government and was appalled to learn that he is in with them.
I didn’t ask him any more questions after that. I was so shocked I quickly ended our conversation and dipped out. But this guy is a friend. How can I handle the fact that we are on opposing teams? Everything is so political these days that I don’t know how to handle this. -- Us Vs. Them
DEAR US VS. THEM: My husband argues that the political parties are far more similar than different, though certain philosophies do differ. In today’s political times, there surely are some extremes that people are struggling to understand.
Rather than lumping your friend into a category that automatically says that you are opponents, talk to him about his views as you share your own. Have a respectful conversation about what you value and what he believes in. Determine where your values differ and where they may be similar. Agree on topics that you are happy to debate and those that you believe will lead to discord without resolution. You can agree to table those.
You don’t have to leave this friendship. Knowing people who have different viewpoints from yours is important in understanding life and how to engage other people. You should not expect or desire for everyone to be your clone.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)