Brandy Jensen, The Outline’s Power editor, has made a lot of mistakes in her life. Has she learned from them and become a wiser person as a result? Hahaha oh gosh no. But it does leave her uniquely qualified to tell you what not to do — because she’s probably done it.
I love you and I need help. I’m dating a guy whom I’ve had a crush on for years. He’s fun, he’s smart, he’s cool, we went to the same college. His parents love me, my parents love him… BUT. He let it slip he’s pro-life. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me too much (as my mom says, he’s not on the Supreme Court so his opinion doesn’t matter), but with all the fuckery lately it does bother me. We are from Georgia, and even though I’ve moved away, I still love it. After the dumb heartbeat bill thing happened I don’t want him even touching me. I have lost everything I used to feel for him. Is it time to break up with him?
I will admit I’m a little confused how you have known this guy for years but his position on the issue has only now come up. Your surprise at this discovery implies he is not overly religious, or was a vocal College Republican. This leads me to believe that he’s probably pro-life in the way a lot of men are: perfunctorily and thoughtlessly. Does this make it any better? Probably not.
Among the many ways Americans are stupidly romantic is the idea that love can bridge people across political divides. This myth hinges on the belief that despite our differences, if we try hard enough we really can all get along. This rather childish notion has maintained the careers of James Carville and Mary Matalin, but what people often forget about those two is they share something fundamental in common: they both suck shit.
This is not to say that your politics need to align perfectly with your partner. And you certainly don’t need to go in search of men who loudly tout their feminist credentials (this only leads to suffering and embarrassment when you start calling yourself “ethically non-monogamous” and eventually discover he’s sending Instagram DMs to teenagers).
But there are a few issues on which disagreement reveals something ugly about a person. This isn’t, strictly speaking, about how your boyfriend feels about a cluster of cells — it’s about how he feels about women. If he is truly anti-abortion, he does not grant you the same autonomy he enjoys. In his mind, your dreams for your life, your economic freedom, even your physical safety are all subordinate to your reproductive capacity. To be seen as a complete person by your partner is bedrock-level shit, not a political spat.
It’s possible that if you explain yourself in these terms, he will come around. A great many men decide things at a young age — this is my best friend, two towels are all you need to own, abortion is bad — and never revisit those decisions. If he inherited his pro-life position from conservative parents, or has just never really talked to a woman about it before, that indicates your boyfriend is a moron, but not irredeemably so. If his pro-life position is a deeply considered one that you are only learning about now because he either assumed you agreed or was actively hiding it from you, then there’s only one thing to do with this relationship: terminate it.
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