... is online here. And I'm terribly grateful for today's Letter Writer, because it's such a great question:
How soon does one tell a prospective love interest that you are a conspiracy theorist? I did a little too soon, with dire consequences.
Like almost everyone, I suffer from a little social anxiety now and then, especially at parties where I have to make conversation with people I don't know. K.A. from Jamaica Plain saved me this holiday season! Whenever I got stuck in an awkward silence, I'd pop up with, "So, I write an advice column, and I got this question. What do you think?"
I hope my advice is as helpful to K.A. as her (yes) question was to me. Here's a sample of it:
Some people see politics (or religion or economics or science) as impersonal and vain, irrelevant between friends, lovers, family. Other people find these abstract ideas to be fundamental to their self and values and could never choose a life partner with whom they disagreed on the basic nature of reality. Some folks couldn't imagine dating a creationist--or not dating one. Others couldn't imagine . . . well, how to end this example without making a terribly tasteless joke about the big bang.
I also have a great fondness for this question because it came in the day after I finished watching season 1 of "Homeland." K.A., girl, if the potential romantic interest is also the subject of the conspiracy theories ... that's just going to end in heartbreak.
Anyway, rather than laying your beliefs directly on the line, float some trial balloons in the general territory of relationships versus ideology. Ask a (potential) date whether there were any disagreements in his or her family during the election. Was there Facebook drama? Talk about your cousin who refused to date a perfectly nice girl because she was a Yankees fan, and what does this person think of that? Suss out whether your prospect keeps ideas and relationships separate or whether compatibility on certain questions is a requirement for intimacy.
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Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.