Issue #264 / December 2023
These are terrible times. My friend, actually my best friend, and I don’t see eye to eye about the current political situation. We have ended up actually arguing about these things which is not like us and this is threatening our relationship? What do I do? Do you ever argue with your friends?
ANDREAS, PORTSMOUTH, UK
Personally, I like a certain amount of disagreement in a relationship. I find it can be a strengthening and energising force. I don’t think it is coincidental that my most cherished friends – friends that I know love me, want the best for me, and have my back – are the ones I find myself disagreeing with the most.
Our truest and deepest relationships allow us the freedom to voice an opinion without fear of it being detrimental to the partnership. Disagreement tests the resilience and complexity of our relationships and need not be a destabilising force, it can instead be the thing that both toughens and softens the bond between two people. Often, to our surprise, we find that our most heated arguments are the upward sparks created by two colliding virtues.
A relationship dependent on a state of agreement, two people just smiling and nodding at each another – be it a marriage, a friendship, a partnership or any other relationship – is probably dysfunctional, impermanent, and almost certainly boring.
But, beyond disagreement, the fortifying agent in any relationship is forgiveness – the ability to expand one’s heart in order to accommodate the infractions, perceived or otherwise, of the other. If you can do that in good faith, Andreas, and listen to what your friend has to say, it may inspire them to do the same and your relationship will be all the better for it. A society stripped of the churn of differing opinions would be its own kind of anodyne hell, so don’t be afraid to disagree, but be ready to forgive and be forgiven, and let love and understanding reach audaciously across the divide.