Q: It’s upsetting to me that I keep losing friends because we differ in our political stance and our views of the upcoming election. How do I handle this? —June in Westlake Village.
A: It can be very painful to see people who we have called friends turn away from us just because we don’t agree on certain things. There was a time when friends could “agree to disagree” and yet still hold mutual respect and care for each other. Issues that we are facing today societally are emotionally charged, and we feel so strongly about our point of view that it’s challenging to think that someone else could possibly see these issues so differently. This is where empathy is required.
Empathy is the ability to see another’s perspective and value it because we value the other person. Yet empathy is a learned skill. We work with many parents on how to teach empathy to their children. Sadly, we are seeing many adults not showing empathy or kindness to others these days. The more we can extend care and understanding to those we disagree with, the more we can move towards acceptance of one another in a diverse culture.
Q: With Covid and the many restrictions going on, it has been very hard to date. I’m considering online dating…what is your opinion on finding someone online to date?
A: We can understand that for many people during this time of Covid-19, it can be frustrating to try to meet new people and look for a potential new relationship. We know many couples, both personally and professionally, who have had great success and found their significant other through a dating website. While we are not opposed to the idea of online dating, there are some important things to remember when communicating with someone online. First, the person you think you are interacting with might not be that person at all…in fact pictures that are posted and the image that is portrayed might be completely false and misleading. It is important to meet in person as soon as possible when a potential relationship seems promising.
We have worked with many people who get very attached emotionally and even sexually on line or on the phone, and they haven’t even met in person yet! Make sure that the person you think you are talking to matches the person who you meet face to face. If possible, meet other people in the person’s sphere, such as friends and family, to ensure that what you see in those situations is in line with what you have been told.
This might be common sense, but the first few times you meet in person, do it in a public space and take your own car. It can be wise to tell someone in your life where you will be and who you are meeting.
To really know a person’s character and whether they live out their belief system, observing them in a variety of life situations, including stressful ones, is imperative. Starting a new relationship during this pandemic season is not easy, but if you do the correct discovery work first, it makes choosing a quality person a lot easier.
Rick Shurtz and Karen Shurtz are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists who work with individuals, couples, and families. If you have a question that you would like Rick and Karen to answer, email them to email@example.com.