The old joke says if you have two Jews in one room, you’ll get three opinions. That’s funny unless the two Jews are coupled up, and then those three opinions can sure make for a pretty tense atmosphere. So how do we agree to disagree in an era where there is so much to disagree about?
Sex, Politics, and Religion
I’ve been working with Jewish singles for over a decade and what dating looks like today is a lot different than ten years ago. “Agree to disagree” was a lot easier when the disagreements were over a handful of topics that didn’t really come up all that often. Today, the news is in our face 24/7 and it sometimes feels as though conflict is the intent. We are bombarded with more information than ever before, and it’s inevitable that our personal prejudices and biases influence us to forge strong opinions on hundreds of topics – opinions that quickly become make-or-break perspectives when you take them too seriously.
Remember those three categories of conversation you were advised not to bring up at the dinner table? Sex, politics, and religion? Today, just bringing up whether or not we should wear a mask into Walmart is likely to kick off a heated discussion. So how do we navigate such a narrow path so that we truly can agree to disagree and bring harmony into our relationships?
Conflict is inevitable
First of all, let’s accept that conflict is inevitable. There is no one on earth who is going to agree with every opinion that you have. It’s just not possible. When you consider the fact that you have changed your opinion on many topics over your lifetime, it becomes clear that even if you found someone who agreed with you on everything today – that state of bliss likely wouldn’t last too long unless their opinions also change in line with yours. Does that seem likely?
Accept that you will never find your opinion doppelgänger, but there is every likelihood that you will find someone who shares your opinion on major topics. Is mask wearing a major topic? Nope. Should mask wearing be a make or break in dating? Nope. Could a couple agree to disagree about mask wearing and have a happy, successful relationship? Yep. Is fidelity a major topic? Absolutely. Should the couple be in agreement regarding infidelity? Absolutely. Could a couple agree to disagree about infidelity and have a happy, successful relationship? Highly doubtful. You see where I’m going with this?
If you sincerely desire to share your life with another human being on a long-term basis you are going to have to reduce the amount of restrictions you have placed on who that person can be and what he/she can think or believe. Your illogical need to have someone agree with you on everything is ego-based. Lead with the heart and you’ll find that those disagreements of opinion don’t really matter in the scheme of things. In fact, differing opinions are an opportunity for you to learn something about the ‘other side’ of a topic and make a more well-rounded and honest assessment of a subject.
Inability to disagree is undermining love
I know many singles who won’t date someone who doesn’t share their opinion of President Trump. Does this make sense long-term? Do you really want to make someone’s opinion of a specific leader in a single point of time a make-or-break? Consider that in a few years Trump will no longer be the leader – are you going to let something so transient determine who you love?
I suggest you sit down and make a list of what you consider to be the most important topics of agreement between you and a potential life partner. Which subjects are vital to a successful union and/or building a happy family and which are transitory? Which subjects reflect a shared moral and ethical perspective and which are simply divisive?
Once you’ve got a strong list of 3-5 major topics, put your focus on those only. When you review a profile or speak to a potential match, ask questions that reveal their perspective on those topics and let the small, insignificant disagreements slide. Or to quote another well-known gem, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Making it last
One of the main characteristics of couples who are successful at building strong, healthy, and long-lasting relationships is their understanding of what is and what isn’t important when choosing a partner. Being so strongly tied to your opinions that you refuse to tolerate a partner with differing ones is likely not going to land you in a relationship with Mr./Ms. Perfect; it will more likely keep you isolated and alone. Let your plethora of opinions spark interesting conversations and intellectual debates; don’t use them to weed out the love of your life.
For additional tips on how to be more tolerant of different opinions, check out this wikihow article.
Check out my previous article, Are Common Interests Important.