Q: A woman in our office is extremely active in a political party and has invited me to be involved. I do like her — we’re both single — but I have quite different political views. What should I do?
A: You seem to be open to a serious relationship with her and I presume you have been seeing each other socially to some extent.
We can often be rather private about our religious and political beliefs, for example, so she almost certainly considers you a friend as she has revealed this dimension of her personal life to you.
While she may simply be advancing the cause of her political party through this invitation, it is more likely she also sees this as a way to get to know you.
Given her apparent fervour, she is hoping you will similarly become supportive and grow to share her political views.
In some instance, political affiliations can be based on the appeal of a leader. She may be loyal to the leader of her party and would like you to become acquainted with him or her.
Political beliefs can generally be placed on a continuum from right to left. People on the right tend to be interested in individual rights and nurturing business interests, while those on the left often support efforts to expand the social safety net and may see government as a way to more actively address many of the ills of our society.
These brief definitions are admittedly highly simplistic but I would suggest you can probably place yourself on the right and her on the left (or the converse).
Good friends don’t necessarily have to share the same beliefs but should you become more intimate — perhaps leading to marriage — you may discover there will be an enduring tension.
Do you respect her views — and those of the party — she supports, or do you find them to be sufficiently abhorrent to cause you embarrassment and criticism from family and friends should you be seen attending meetings?
To use a popular expression, would you say her political beliefs are a “deal breaker” for you? In other words, can you sense your views are so dissimilar as to create continuing conflict?
You should share your concerns with her at the earliest opportunity and either accept or decline her invitation based on how strongly you feel about the whole matter.
Although you could maintain a special friendship with her you should be aware that your differing views may result in stress that might threaten your capacity to become more serious
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