Friday, 12 November 2010

In which there are differences in opinion

“Hah, that’s not a deal-breaker, is it?!” The Northerner said on a recent date as we both tucked into pan-fried herring with lingonberries at Baltic, the excellent Polish restaurant in Southwark.

I looked at him in faint horror. His joke that I might be so appalled at his previous statement as to call things off cut rather closer to the bone than he realised.

Early on in our dalliance, we’d already come across a couple of differences in opinion: preferences in art; sports it’s acceptable to expect your date even to feign an interest in; skimmed vs. semi-skimmed milk – that sort of thing.

Then we’d hit a slightly stickier conversation whilst out for dinner one night in Soho during which I made a flippant comment about the ancient furs in the wardrobe, and ended up launching a spirited defence of countryside sports.

This conversation, though, went beyond a difference in opinion as to whether foxes are just handsome vermin with excellent PR (they are).

We’d been talking current affairs and politics, which I’m aware is a minefield best avoided in a lot of social situations – but, I’d argue, not with the man you’re seeing if you think he has potential. Up cropped the topic of Ken Clarke’s prison reforms (I remember when Saturday nights were more likely to involve the drinking version of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Top Trumps, a large bottle of Mount Gay and Best Mate being taken ill in a wheelie bin. Sigh).

Suddenly, I found myself sitting across a starched white tablecloth under the gaze of attentive waiters and eye-catching art, listening to my date casually defend both increased prison sentences and capital punishment.

Generally, I’d be hesitant to criticise someone for the views they choose to hold: if you’ve thought rationally about the arguments for both sides and found one more compelling, I might not agree with your conclusion, but I’ll respect the way you’ve reached it (huh. I appear to be softening in my old age).

But dating someone whose views are diametrically opposed to one’s own is a trickier situation. If you know the beliefs of the person sitting across the table differ fundamentally from yours, is it daft to keep seeing them, if there’s a chance that those differences could create rifts further down the line? Or are differences of opinion just that – and there’s nothing more that needs doing than agreeing to disagree? After all I have plenty of friends whose views I find perplexing (I mean – some of them have even voted Green. Bizarre) and we’re still quite capable of knocking back the gin like it’s going out of fashion.

But then, there’s the argument that I have bad enough luck when it comes to the males of the species without creating extra difficulties for myself. I don’t know that dating someone who’s fundamentally opposed to skimmed milk might not just be a step too far.


Will said...

Skimmed milk is filth, save for skinny lattes (media stereotype alert!)

I think differences are healthy; there's got to be some friction, or it all becomes a little bit too comfortable.

nuttycow said...

Variety is the spice of live Blonde. You and I both love a good argument, these differences in opinion just mean you can have a good ol' chinwag all the while knowing that you'll have to agree to disagree on some things.

(and skimmed milk? It's white water. Disgusting stuff)

Martin said...

I'm with nuttycow, nothing better than having a good debate, besides, if it were me, and I didn't respect a person's decision because the logic they used to reach it was absurd, or that they were just parroting someone else's opinion without having examined it themselves, then I'm not entirely sure I'd want to date that person anyway.

But a well-reasoned, but differing, opinion provides ample opportunity for flexing the brain-muscle, as well as providing a nice bit of difference - I wouldn't want to date my clone.

The nub for me was working out which opinions, if divergent, really were dealbreakers. Amongst which were fanatical religion, veganism and eco-mentalism.

(Skimmed milk is revolting. It takes an empty whole milk shelf before I grab the semi-skimmed.)

theperpetualspiral said...

I really do feel the need to support skimmed milk here.

A relationship where you agree on everything just becomes stale and boring. A good reasoned debate and exchange of views is a good thing and you'll both likely thrive on it.

Blonde said...

Will: Skimmed milk is of paramount importance in a latte. They're horribly thick and gooey otherwise.

NC: Is something like this just a difference in opinion, though?

Martin: I think that's the crux of the issue. It's whether his support of capital punishment is a dealbreaker. It definitely makes me deeply uncomfortable.

Perp: THANK YOU. I thought for a moment I was on my own.

HC said...

I flip between pro and anti capital punishment when dealing with clients.

Zstep said...

Depends on how strongly he holds those diametrically opposite beliefs and if he is willing to see a different perspective. The wife comes from a conservative military family but saw the light and is as left as I am these days so anything is possible...

That said, this argument is moot if the sex is crap. Have we figured this out yet? I'm keeping a tally for you of the pros and cons of our Northern friend. The sex question could be the tipping point one way or the other...

Pro- good kisser, can hold a decent conversation, nice friends.

Con- short, dicey fashion sense, questionable jewelry choices, friends serve crap wine, differing politics.

It's all hanging in the balance my friend...

LB said...

Hmm. Difference of opinions is normally OK. Capital punishment, though? Really? Eek.

Hamish said...

Personally I think he should be locked up instantly for not trying to get you horizontal by now.

Northerner & drinks Whisky ?

Hardly what it says on the tin eh .......?

fwengebola said...

This Northerner, are you referring to Islington? (c. I.Hislop)

Brennig said...

Cute though it may seem at first, if we married people who were mirror images of ourselves things would be *so* boring! Concentrate on the chemistry, not the conversation.

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