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My partner has embraced conspiracy theories and extreme political views – The Irish Times


Dear Ru,

Me and my partner Move abroad For more than 10 years as expatriates. We are both 40 years old. We plan to return home to Ireland next year. While abroad, my partner has become increasingly right-wing conservative in his worldview, and I think this is mostly a response to the cultural climate of the country we currently live in. But it is unfortunate that he is now gloating about how Ireland acquiesces to the whims of the Irish people. The “woke mob” has expressed to me that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to adjust to life at home, and even his elderly parents are horrified by his new love of conspiracy theories and authoritarians. Recently, a conversation between my partner and my father went completely off the rails, when my partner rudely mocked my father for expressing concerns about the influence of the alt-right during the Dublin riots. My partner was never like this when he lived in Ireland, he was definitely more moderate if not socially liberal. I’m more left of center and can’t have a reasonable discussion with him about politics, abortion, LGBTQ topics, etc. without him becoming defensive and urging me to “open my eyes to the truth.” My partner is a great person otherwise, and I love him very much. He has a sweet, gentle side that was buried by all this bullshit. I’m terrified my partner will embarrass himself in front of our friends and family when we return to Ireland. I desperately want him to go back to the person he was before we left. It makes me so sad. Any advice?

Your partner and I don’t see eye to eye on a political level, and we’ll likely end up arguing at the dinner table, should the occasion arise. I mention this explicitly because I’m not going to pretend that my answer is unbiased. I also point out that anyone who uses the word “woke” as a pejorative probably won’t appreciate this column (or my thoughts in general) and in the interest of saving these people time and high blood pressure, I’m giving them the chance to bail now and go read anything else in the world.

Your disclaimer is complete, so back to you, dear letter writer.

This could be the deal breaker that ends your relationship, which I think you know. Some people are happy being with partners who have very different political views – but that’s not the relationship you signed up for. Your partner has changed radically over time, and his or her changed values, ways of thinking, and ways of interacting are no longer compatible with what you want in a partner. Remove the details of political beliefs, and what you experience is the increasing incompatibility in the relationship, which is what many people experience. People can change in all sorts of ways that can lead to the end of a relationship; For example, shifts in their goals, life plans, priorities and personalities. Incompatibility over time is a perfectly valid reason to end a relationship.

I say this because sometimes there can be reductive and simplistic discourse about political beliefs as if it is something people have to get over. That we simply shouldn’t bring politics to the dinner table and everything will be fine. But a partner suddenly adopting a worldview that conflicts with yours is reason enough to end the relationship. You can leave if you wish – and I personally will.

But if you think this is something worth working on and want to address this with your partner, focus on values. Something I find fascinating about Western conservatism in particular is the lack of emphasis on building, developing, or creating anything that doesn’t involve restricting the rights of others. There is a very strong feeling of being against too much and being for too little. There’s also a cultural obsession with being the group that “really” knows what’s going on, who can claim the one “truth,” which is why there’s been such a rise not only in conspiracy theories but also in media personalities claiming that everyone else is too. Lying and they alone will speak the truth. This didn’t come out of nowhere. People feel deprived, alone, and helpless, and are searching for some sense of control in a world where they do not feel valued or heard. Most of us can understand those feelings, but I also believe there are ways to meet those needs and feelings without oppressing, disrespecting, or instilling fear in others. Many people feel alone and helpless, and what we do with those feelings, and whether we try to empower others or push them down, shows our value system.

I’m explaining this not just for show, but to give you an entry point for talking to your partner. Set up a time and tell him that it’s clear that his worldview has changed significantly since you first met and that you’re having a hard time processing these changes and seeing if your values ​​are still compatible. See what he says and if he has any immediate ideas. If he asks for examples, focus on the values ​​he demonstrated when you got together – not just politically, but personally as well. Talk about how when you fell in love with him, you admired his compassion, his embrace of nuance, his desire to treat others with respect, his desire for the world to be safer for everyone, his curiosity and desire to learn from others no matter what. Be specific and state the things he stands for, not against. Then note the changes you’ve noticed and how they seem to reflect a different set of values ​​and explain how they affect your relationship with him.

Use “I” statements here, such as “I feel like we used to value interactive, respectful conversations between ourselves and others, but from my perspective, you seem to value “winning” conversations more now. I feel like you make fun of me and others during conversations, and the way you talk to me makes me I feel disrespected and it makes me not want to discuss topics with you, when I used to love how respectful and interactive our conversations were. You can make other points about the values ​​I use to display versus how you feel he has changed: moving from valuing empathy to controlling; moving from valuing equality to superiority; Appreciate listening and learning to being the “in-the-know” person; moving from appreciating being open to being defensive and closed; and moving from appreciating communication with his friends and family to turning them away.

Then pay attention to how he reacts. You explain to your partner that you feel distant from them, that their behavior is pushing you (and others) away, and that you feel like your values ​​are no longer compatible. Either he values ​​you and your relationship enough to take it seriously and look at his behavior and make some changes, or he values ​​his newfound belief system and wants to feel more in control, and won’t engage with you meaningfully.

If he seems really invested in addressing these issues and is committed to being with you and you want to try to make it work, I recommend getting a couples counselor who will help you get back to understanding each other and talking respectfully.

But think carefully about whether you want to be with this person as he is now, or whether you are clinging to a version of him that no longer exists. If so, it’s time to end the relationship, grieve what you had before, and find someone who is compatible with you today. good luck.



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