Follow up-to coaching for my relationship, answers to coaching questions. (My boyfriend is Hispanic and identifies as white.)
“What am I believing that makes it hard for me to hear my boyfriend’s ideas about what he believes about race, gun control, and women’s rights?”
I believe that people should actively work to eliminate racist thoughts to the best of their ability.
I believe that gun control (common sense or not) is the best way to reduce the number of mass shootings and domestic murders in the United States.
I believe that women’s rights and feminism are important to achieve a goal of equality between the sexes, social, legal, and financial.
I believe that people who don’t believe this way are less evolved and are culpable in creating a society that places women and ethnic “minorities” as lower than white men.
I believe that people of good conscience should actively work to fight racism, sexism, and discrimination by voting, supporting changes in legislation, and actively addressing these issues when they come up in daily life.
I believe that rape culture and toxic masculinity are real and individuals who produce media that supports these phenomena are culpable in perpetuating them.
I believe it is my responsibility to work on myself to eliminate wrong thinking about these topics, especially subjecting myself to sexist beliefs within myself, or projecting racist or sexist beliefs onto others.
I believe I should challenge and debate with people who hold these racist and sexist views.
I get that yelling at my boyfriend when we disagree is not achieving these goals.
“Can you disagree with your boyfriend and still hold space for his opinion? Do you want to do that?”
I want to believe yes, but some of his opinions I just disagree with. He doesn’t feel safe without bringing his handgun when we go shopping, though he doesn’t always bring it (he had a home invasion two years ago, and his car was stolen from the parking lot of his old apartment and destroyed about 4 years ago). I don’t believe in guns as a practical solution to these types of problems as I think the potential costs are often worse than the benefits.
I know him pretty well, and I can see that a lot of this is coming from his emotions. He has a lot of thoughts and feelings about the home invasion and his car. He also has a lot of thoughts and feelings about women he has had relationships with, including myself. He feels vulnerable, lonely, and misunderstood. He thinks he can improve himself by watching coaching on Youtube about how not to be needy and project masculine instead of feminine energy. He thinks when he shows vulnerability or his feminine side that it causes me to treat him with less respect and attraction.
Every time rape or “Me Too” comes up in the news, he is triggered by his experience of being accused of rape in the past. He perpetuates his beliefs by watching media that tells him that men are victims of women and that feminism is an assault against men. He also often gives examples of women at his work who are excelling or ‘overpaid’ who he believes don’t deserve it.
He and his boss are both worried about their careers being threatened if they say or do the wrong thing at work or if a woman falsely accuses them. I just don’t agree with this mindset. I think it is absurd. It’s not like it’s impossible for something like this to happen, I just think it’s extremely unlikely. I don’t want to believe his thoughts because I think they are false. I do think he has a right to believe them, but I don’t think they are serving him.
I understand intellectually that other men believe these things. I have become more accepting of his beliefs. I don’t feel afraid about having guns in the house most of the time, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable when he is carrying unless a situation comes up where there is a potential for conflict. I understand guns are fun to shoot at the range and people collect them as objects, not just for protection or whatever.
I also know that he is intelligent and working to improve himself. Our beliefs about women are different, but I don’t believe the way he thinks about women is totally toxic or wrong, I just don’t think it is the way I believe. And I wish he would adjust his beliefs as I think it would be more comfortable for me. (And I think he might feel better, as he is constantly thinking something is wrong with all the women getting all the things at work, and men being victimized by women in general, lol.)
I think there is a line where your personal thoughts start to cross over and impact other people. For example, Donald Trump’s actions generated by his thoughts inspired a lot of people to become more open and active about their racism and put their and other’s lives in danger by not wearing masks for protection against Covid.
I feel concerned that when my boyfriend gets the management position he wants, he will not treat women fairly in the workplace. I think my boyfriend’s thoughts have the potential to generate actions that could negatively impact myself and my daughter in the future. I think there has been a negative impact on me so far because of his beliefs, but I understand it is my thoughts about his actions that actually cause me to feel discomfort or emotional pain.
For example, he thinks a good woman should be submissive and helpful and prioritizes her romantic relationship over other things. At the same time, he wants a partner who is happy and successful in her career. I don’t think it is impossible to be all these things, but I think it is a contradiction that is not likely to work easily. In some ways, I think it is an opportunity to work on patience and embracing my feminine energy. In other ways, it just feels like people-pleasing and putting my own preferences and priorities last.
T: A good woman is submissive and helpful
A: Be patient with R, clean his house and mine, be patient with my goals, forgive him when I am angry, put other’s needs before mine, process my emotions, don’t do things I want to do, stay home, accept him for who he is, adjust myself to fit this idea.
R: I don’t totally believe this thought, so I experience resistance
T: I am people pleasing
A: Question my actions, question my relationship, discount my feelings, judge myself for being in the relationship, discount his feelings, discount my feelings, believe my choices are for others.
R: I don’t please myself or others
C: Boyfriend and I have different opinions on sexism and racism
T: We are individuals with different opinions on some topics
A: Sort out what is my opinion and what is R’s. Allow my feelings about these topics, stop resisting his opinions, stop making something wrong out of the situation, ignore the experience of cognitive dissonance, allow him to be who he is, take responsibility for being in the relationship.
R: I experience being an individual with opinions
Thanks for your help and feedback.