Can I make a religious friend okay with not-religious me? Sorry, long...
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Friend and I met in New City about 2.5 years ago, both on work terms. We clicked, and by sheer coincidence we discovered that not only did we come from the same Original City, we even went to the same university.
We returned to our city, and our respective social circles. Despite time constraints and different scheduling, up until 3 days ago I still thought that, despite our (many and varied) differences, despite polar opposite opinions on religion and social policies, we were good, close friends who are comfortable with each other. (Evidence: long, intellectual discussions about how our different worldviews oppose each other.)
Friend called me 3 days ago (very late at night, the night before her final exam) asking to talk, and it's important. She came over.
She admitted she's been avoiding me for several months (wasn't my imagination, after all). And she laid out (in tears) the many and varied problems she's had with me. There were a few misunderstandings (cleared up, not really forgiven), but the biggest issue boils down to our opposing viewpoints in life.
I am agnostic, she is strongly, deeply Christian. I am pro-abortion, pro-premarital sex, pro-gay-marriage, and probably more things I can't think of right now that she is strongly opposed to. Previously, and ironically, she was the only person other than my boyfriend I felt comfortable discussing my thoughts with, because we tended to have intellectual conversation from our respective points of view, and were at least food for thought even if I didn't agree at the end of the day. Que sera, sera and all that.
Turns out that she was offended/hurt by my (respectfully dissenting) views, but just didn't know how to voice her hurt, so she turned it into an intellectual conversation instead. Repeat for all issues we've had, that I didn't know about, and thought she was okay with.
Let me first make clear: She deeply, deeply cares about me as a friend. She said I'm probably the friend she has let in the most, which is why my opposing views hurt so much - I don't share her religion, and while I don't insult it to her face or anything I've made clear that it's not for me, and I place absolutely no importance on Christianity or any other religion in terms of my life. And she really does believe that my pre-marital sex, my "live and let live" attitude, and everything else will end up in me getting hurt. And she doesn't want me getting hurt. But I have no regard for the rules of life she lives by, the ones that she says that "the rules will set you free". Put simply, while she has never been a preaching evangelical towards me, she wanted to because she thinks my way of living will end up in tears and pain for me. Except she didn't say anything, because she knew I'd reject it. Cue an ever growing landmine of hurt feelings.
Post conversation, I...am hurt. I am very, very hurt, and quite angry as well. I thought we were okay keeping it intellectual, but that's not the case. I feel judged, and I don't like that. And she's been sitting on these feelings for a damn long time. If I had known that she was uncomfortable with all those heavy topics I wouldn't have that kind of conversation with her, but she never said anything, and now she's telling me that what I think, what I do, who I am hurts her. She portrayed everything as intellectual discussion when she was Really Not Okay with this.
There were other things that weren't religion-related, which also boiled down to me doing nothing wrong/living my own life and her knowing intellectually that I'm not wrong, but she's hurt anyway (such as she thinks I don't respect my parents, or that I was abandoning her in favour of other people, and other things that weren't the least bit true and I countered as such, but I doubt that improved her opinion much). She flat-out asked me if I care about her, which I replied - incredulously - that of course I do, but I still don't agree with her.
I...don't know where to go from here. I'm not converting. I've made my choices, many (most) were made long before I met her (she was hopeful that she had influenced me to change my mind, but that has not happened, and that hurt her too). My boyfriend told me to sit on this and mull over if I want to salvage this friendship, and if, IF I do, we need some very long talks after her finals...but if being close friends and caring about me causes her pain and makes me feel judged...I don't know.
I don't know what to do, honestly. I resent that she holds all the cards right now - this friendship now seems dependent on her ability to reconcile her religion and other views with the idea that people that she cares about may not share the same views. I resent that her beliefs and judgement are making me not only lose her as a friend (which is a distinct possibility), but also other friends and social activities as well (I was not invited to a recent get-together when normally I would; then again, Friend's boyfriend was hosting it so I could see where the lack of invite came from...) I want to salvage this friendship - nearly 3 years is a long time to throw away - but I don't know how, I don't know if we can.
Where do we go from here?