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GOP job threatens gay relationship

Is shared political ideology a make-or-break factor?

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Hi Michael,
 
 
My boyfriend is threatening to break up with me unless I stop working for Republicans.
 
 
I live here in D.C. and work for a Republican organization by choice.  Not just because I need a job, not just because I enjoy the work and the position is a good fit to my skills, but also because I believe in many of the tenets of the party.
 
 
Joe doesn’t work in politics and wasn’t really politically minded until you-know-who (the antithesis of everything I admire about Republicanism) got the nomination.  Now Joe is always ranting about how I work for the Devil, how I’m a self-hating gay (totally untrue) and similar sentiments.
 
 
In part I blame his friends, who are always making fun of my work, so much so that I stopped hanging out with them. But even when we’re alone Joe won’t let up, so I’m not enjoying spending time with him lately.
 
 
I used to really like being with him, making dinner, watching Netflix, going out dancing. Although when I think about it I can’t say that we’ve ever been aligned in our views about the world or about life.  Honestly we never had any heavy conversations, We’ve kept things light and focused on having a nice time together.
 
 
Maybe that’s enough for a good relationship. Maybe we don’t need to share the same ideology.  But I think respect is important and it’s not working for me to have Joe say that I must change jobs or he will end our relationship.
 
 
How can we break this deadlock?

Michael replies:

You could run the other way. Who wants a partner that threatens to leave unless you do what he wants?

But maybe I’m being impetuous with that suggestion.

If there is enough that you like about Joe and your relationship, you need to do what you said in your letter that you avoid doing: have a serious talk with him, even though this is a difficult subject.

Does he mean to be threatening you? Does he want a relationship where the two of you threaten each other to get your way?

If his answer is yes, follow my first suggestion. It’s awful to be in a relationship with that sort of dynamic.

But I hope Joe and anyone who think it’s OK to dangle the possibility of nasty consequences as a way of effecting change will consider the following:

• An essential part of being in a serious relationship is figuring out how to be close to someone who at times sees life through a totally different lens.

• Any potential partner is bound to be different from you. Some differences will be interesting and others will be downright troublesome in important ways that you don’t like. Yes, this includes political beliefs.

• You don’t have to stay with any particular person, but once you do choose to be with someone, you don’t get to tell him how he must change to suit you.

• You must learn to tolerate aspects of your partner that have the potential to make you unhappy.

• Your opinion is just that; you don’t get to control your partner’s views, actions and life choices.

If Joe is clear that a Republican boyfriend is not for him, then it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not your job to let go of things that are important to you, in order to accommodate your boyfriend’s discomfort. Nor is it healthy for either of you.

Being in a relationship, just like being alive, is a continual learning process. If Joe is up for learning to accept you, including your politics, great. And if you’re ready to be someone who tackles difficult subjects, I would say the two of you have a good chance for a vibrant relationship, going forward.

You raise a great question: How much of a connection to your partner is important?

Yes, relationships are in part about having good times together, but more is required for a relationship to have strength and depth. You want to have similar core values so that you respect the person you’re going through life with. I think kindness is also essential, along with honesty, a willingness to challenge each other when it’s important to speak up, and a willingness to grow.

You may or may not agree with my list of priorities, and you likely have some of your own. In any case, you’ve made it clear that respect is vital to you and threats are a no-go, so I suggest that you talk with Joe and see if it’s possible for the two of you to create a relationship that can weather your differences. Any other relationship is not going to be viable in the long run.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dan Ouellette

    September 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry, but I would tell boyfriend that not all queers are democrats. Some of us believe in the real world. And then explain that is the last time you want to hear anything negative regarding his job or his choice of parties. Life is too damn short to have to bend to someone else’s will. Trust me, at 51 and after bending to someone else’s will for 18 1/2 years, I am soooooo much happier now that it is over and I rediscovered who I real am.

    • Jeffrey Marks

      September 9, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      You mean the real world where gay marriage is illegal and conversion therapy is a recommended practice? Where anti-gay hate groups have a voice in the government? The LW is a self-hater who needs to be alone.

      • Dan Ouellette

        September 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        I have been out of the closet for over 30 years. In all that time I have had many many Republican friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. Not once did any of them treat me any better or worse than they treated anyone else around me. You say Republicans hate gays like they all hate us. I know quite a few democrats that can’t stand Gays either. We even have people within our own community that discriminate against our own. Lesbiens hate gay men, gay men hate tranvestites, drag queens hate cross-dressers, straight acting gays hate effeminate gays, and the list goes on. So stop sticking people into tiny little stereotypes that you apparently know very little about and open up your world to new and exciting things. Befriend a Republican, who knows, you might show them just how “normal” us queers can be???

        • Red Rockers

          September 10, 2016 at 3:06 pm

          Sorry, but the “they are not all bad” argument does not hold water. The Republican Party Platform, a document that lays out the party’s agenda and, to a great extent, requires its candidates to support is THE MOST Homophobic agenda in decades. They may be nice to your face… but they support candidates who will take away your rights with the flick of a lever or the writing of a check.

          Here’s how you know if they are really what you think they are…Dare them to call Paul Ryan’s or Mitch McConnel’s office and leave a message that says “I am a republican and believe that all anti-gay language MUST be removed from the party’s platform.” When they say “sure” then hand them your phone and have the number ready to go. Then you’ll know if they’re worthy of sharing your 2-4-1 at Number 9.

      • Dan Ouellette

        September 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        But the last two anti-homosexual legislation were enacted by Bill Clinton (D)… Lets face it, our country is run by the rich, both republican and democrat. There are just as many democrat one percenters as there are republican ones. It is us poor souls that are pieces on a chessboard, So it does not matter who we vote for, we the American public gets screwed. But the more we argue amongst each other, the less we see our government pulling behind our backs.

        • jc_denver

          September 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

          You mean “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? It was a choice between that or having a constitutional amendment put forth by your party to define marriage as 1 man 1 woman. Really want to take the chance of an amendment passing & being ratified? Perhaps a little research before you blame someone for something.
          And yes it does mater – the next POTUS will nominate at least 2 if not 3 SCOTUS justices — you know the ones with the power to overturn marriage equality. A little research and a little perspective — although being a republicon you probably are unfamiliar with either concept.

          • Dan Ouellette

            September 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm

            Typical name caller. I did my research. There were other options, that was just a cop-out because Billy caved and didn’t want to bother with a fight. Neither party has done jack for the Gay community unless it directly benefits themselves. They couldn’t care less about us.

            But, believing the Republicans are all gay-bashing homophobes is like saying all Gay men are sex-crazed, feminine freaks, or all Denverites are pot-smoking zombies. It’s the loudmouths in every group that make their group look bad, and I would much rather have the Republican party/Trump choosing the next SCOTUS’ in order to keep the US from becoming a socialist country. (It’s already on it’s way there now.)

            (Just picture the 9th District Federal Court rulings and that is what the Supreme Court would be like if Hillary wins.) But, that is probably what you want.

          • Dan Ouellette

            September 10, 2016 at 7:01 pm

            Oh, I forgot to mention, I voted for Billy-boy twice. That was the last Democrat I have and will ever vote for!!!

        • Toitchynuts

          September 15, 2016 at 10:37 am

          You’re making one intelligent reasonable post after another, and look at all the hate it’s getting you. And these same mental midgets will denigrate their political opposition for being hateful. Welcome to the world of trying to actually talk to democrats. It doesn’t matter if it’s gays, feminists, environmentalists, pro abortion supporters, or gun control advocates, they’re all clones with a different cause. They will always hate you for “supporting hate”. They will never tolerate you because of your “intolerance”. Then they will find ways of calling YOU the hypocrite. How much do you want to bet that the boyfriend who’s threatening to leave would put republican intolerance at the top of the list of why he feels this way. truly pathetic.

          • Dan Ouellette

            September 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

            Thank you Toitchynuts… I used to be a Democrat from Maine, but while in the Army, I got to see what the other side was like. Turns out that I wasn’t a staunch Democrat, but nor was I a staunch Republican either. I was somewhere in the middle. As time went on, I noticed both sides were getting further and further away from my ideals, but the Democrats began taking it way too far to the left. I certainly don’t agree with everything the Republicans stand for, but when comparing the parties side-by-side, I agree with more of what the Republican party stands for.

  2. Red Rockers

    September 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Gay Republican has been an oxymoron since 1980 and nothing has changed in that party to change that. I say get out of the relationship so Joe can find someone who isn’t helping to open the door door to further discrimination.

    • Dan Ouellette

      September 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      So you believe voting for Hillary is the answer? No one else has a chance besides those two, so a vote for anyone other than Trump is a vote for Hillary.

  3. Рон Джамин

    September 10, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Any partner that tried that bullshit with me would be an ex partner. Lol

  4. Toitchynuts

    September 15, 2016 at 10:27 am

    You are who you are, screw what other people think. I have democrat friends. I don’t initiate political conversations with them, but if they do, they get my uncensored, unapologetic, to certain people offensive, honest opinions. Their liberal views don’t dampen my friendship with them, if they don’t feel the same…….I’ll point them to the door.

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Advice

Working from home is taking over our lives

We need to create boundaries and return to offices

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working from home, gay news, Washington Blade

Back in the late 1980s when I was a young financial analyst at a New York bank, I’d leave the office at five and go home to my little Upper West Side studio. With no cable, internet, or cellphone, a landline was my only connection to the outside word till I went back to work the next day.

What was it like? Tranquility is the word. Surrounded by Manhattan, I was as isolated as a monk in a cell, with uninterrupted hours to read a book, cook, or listen to an album. And of course I could go out on the town without a work crisis reaching out to ruin my plans.

I’ve been thinking back to those days a lot, lately. Working as a psychologist, I’m hearing more and more clients complain lately about how much time they’re putting into their jobs. Folks have been working from home for a year now, and as the months have gone by, many of us are spending more and more hours on the job.

What’s going on? I hear a few justifications.

First, many people tell me that they don’t feel they have an excuse not to reply when they get a text or email from a boss or colleague after normal work hours. After all, what else would they be doing? This is especially true of my single clients who don’t have children. Even dinnertime isn’t off limits.

Second, as the pandemic drags on and most of us have so few sources of fun and stimulation, people are turning more and more to their jobs for something — anything — to keep them occupied.

And, of course, there’s the reality that we’re working from our homes. There’s no physical boundary keeping work at work.

So while it’s great not to have to commute or wear pants, working from home is making it even easier for our jobs to take over our lives than they already were. Put bluntly, this sucks.

We all need a break from work. Every day. Your job likely isn’t paying you for 16-hour days. Even if it is, you need to have some fun, rest, and recharge your brain.

Of course we can’t shut ourselves off from the world as completely as I did in those pre-internet/cellphone days. But we need to draw a boundary, even if it means disappointing our employers and colleagues by doing so. I’m not talking about not doing your job. I’m just talking about setting a limit on how much of your life you are willing to give to your work.

Standing up for your own well-being can be scary. There may be real risks in terms of job security and compensation. Only you can decide for yourself when it is vital to say “no.” But advocating for yourself is necessary at times. To quote Hillel, an ancient Jewish sage: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?”

Taking action on your own behalf is also a skill you want to develop, because it will help you in all areas of your life. If you can’t say “no” in order to eat dinner uninterrupted, watch a movie you’d like to see, spend time with someone you love or get a good night’s sleep, you’re going to get chewed up and spit out by others, quite a lot.

Recently, I’ve been reading that D.C.’s downtown is in danger of financial ruin. As many people may not be be returning to the office after the pandemic, some believe that the whole web of service businesses may collapse.

I’m hoping that the doomsdayers floating this theory are wrong, and that as the pandemic ends many of us will head back to the office, at least much of the time. We need to get back to setting a stronger boundary between work and the rest of our lives.

Yes, we’ll be helping our city rebound. And we’ll also be making a big step toward taking care of ourselves, by re-constructing a life that’s about way more than work.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com.

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Advice

ADVICE: Despair vs. resilience in trying times

Coronavirus lockdown has many down but you’re stronger than you think

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As the COVID-19 crisis goes on without our having any clarity about how or when this crazy situation will improve, most everyone I know is super-anxious about getting sick, fed up with being locked down or both. Is there a way for us to get through this any easier? 

Here’s a start: Acknowledge that there are no guarantees in life.

When we accept that life is going to throw all sorts of challenges at us and that there is sometimes nothing we can do to stop these challenges from coming, that leaves us with one great option: Work on becoming more resilient so we can better deal with the hard stuff, including the very hard stuff.

This is called resilience. Being able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going forward. Cliché, yes, but it’s what we need to do if we don’t want life to beat us down.

Good news: resilience is a trait we are born with. As I’m writing these words, I’m watching my 4-month-old, who recently learned to turn from his back onto his belly, trying to turn from his belly onto his back. He’s been at this for days, and has succeeded just once. He keeps crying and trying. He won’t give up. That’s resilience.

Further good news: If you’re LGBT, you likely have already done some work in this area. All the difficulties that we experience as we grow up — struggling to accept an identity that’s stigmatized, teasing, rejection and worse — and here we are. How? All of us found a way to keep moving forward in our lives rather than letting circumstances defeat us.

Of course, this is pretty much true of anyone who has been through tough times and survived. Many of our elders who experienced the Depression, wartime, or worse tell us that they aren’t fazed by the virus or having to stay at home. Having endured previous struggles, they know they can do their best to endure this one.

That’s what all of us must keep in mind now. Knowing that we have had the resilience to get through past difficulties can support us in getting through this new hard time.

Another important point to keep in mind: When we give our suffering meaning, it helps us endure the suffering. Reminding ourselves that striving to endure this tough period will make us even more resilient can actually help us to more easily endure it.

Other ways we can strengthen our own capacity for resilience: 

Do our best to take care of ourselves, of course. When we eat well, find a way to exercise, get adequate sleep and take breaks from virus-worrying through meditation or just focusing on something pleasant or uplifting, we’re less anxious and better able to keep calm. The ability to soothe ourselves is key to being resilient.

Stay connected to people around us so that we don’t wind up feeling isolated and alone, which can deepen feelings of hopelessness. We all need supportive friends and family whom we can ask for assistance when we really need it to survive. Knowing that they are there is part of feeling resilient. And if we’re able to help others in some way — dropping off groceries for an elderly relative or neighbor, or simply being willing to listen — we’re likely to feel stronger and more able to cope.

Appreciate what we have. This can include a roof over our head, food to eat, people and companion animals we love and simply being alive right now. Doing will serve us much better than lamenting.

While none of us will live forever, we all want to stay in the game as long as we can. Striving to be resilient can help us keep going forward through life with the belief that if it’s possible to survive, we have a good shot at doing so. And that belief can give us hope, determination and a positive outlook.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com

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ADVICE: Nerves easily fray while social distancing

Look within to avoid unnecessary tension with your significant other

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social distancing advice, gay news, Washington Blade

For many years, I’ve told couples I work with that being in long-term relationships is like taking a long journey by ship in a very small stateroom. You know, the kind where the couch unfolds to be a bed, you have to step over your partner’s legs to get to the bathroom and there’s no place to stow the suitcases. You have to find a way to stay calm, not drive each other crazy and enjoy the voyage.

I’d never actually traveled by boat, so this was just my theory. So when my husband and I were lucky enough to take a journey by ship up the Norwegian coast a few years back and had a cabin exactly as I’d envisioned (i.e. teeny), I discovered I was right. Despite the unbelievably gorgeous scenery right out our porthole, after a few days we could see how easy it would be to get irritable with each other.

Now here we all are in a much more difficult situation. We’re stuck at home, on top of each other, trying to do our jobs while taking care of companion animals and children, attempting to avoid an invisible enemy that could be anywhere.  We can’t go out on deck to watch Norway float by. Instead, we’ve got the television to look at, keeping us posted about all the bad and scary news.  

So it’s natural that as our nerves fray, we’re going to get irritated by our mates. They’re in the way. We don’t like their tone. They aren’t doing enough or responding when we ask a question. We feel like we’re the one doing everything.  

Sound familiar?

It makes sense that we react like this at such a stressful time, but when we do, it’s all downhill from there. In our current predicament, we don’t have the usual escape outlets that let us take a break and come back to our spouses calmer and with a refreshed attitude.  

What to do? Here are some simple strategies to help you, your significant other and your relationship through this extraordinarily miserable period:

Don’t point fingers: Think about what you can do to make the situation better rather than focusing on what your spouse should be doing. And then do it. This is a great strategy even in normal times. Remember, we have very little power to get another person to do something, but lots of power over our own behavior. So if we want things to change, we should look first to ourselves.

Be generous: Does your spouse feel strongly about something? Now is likely not the time to get into a struggle over whose say goes. Unless you have good reason to go in the other direction, be generous. Again, this is a policy worth adhering to when we get back to normal (soon, I hope!).

Take responsibility for soothing your own anxiety: This is always a great idea, but especially now. Yes, when we’re worried about something it feels great to get a hug and be told everything will be OK. But right now, your partner is just as anxious as you are and likely without the bandwidth to soothe you. Moreover, none of us really know that everything will be OK. 

So the best thing you can do when you’re anxious is look to yourself to find ways to keep as calm as you can, under the current circumstances: Meditation, slow deep breaths, whatever exercise you can find to do, striving to be in the present, working to accept uncertainty — these are all ways you may be able to help yourself feel even a little more calm.

And if you’re able to reach out and offer your spouse some loving reassurance — even if none of us know how this will end — so much the better.  Giving your partner emotional support is always a good move.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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