I’m a Democrat and my best friend is a Republican. Here’s how we make our friendship work.

I’m a Democrat and my best friend is a Republican. Here’s how we make our friendship work.
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Barbara Field and her friend TC at Madfish Grill.
Barbara Field and her friend TC are on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

  • My best friend and I have completely different values and politics.
  • We met when my mom and I moved to Florida, and I hired him to help with our laptops.
  • I’ve learned that tolerance and friendship really can bring different kinds of people together.

I’m a Democratic feminist from a small town in New York. I dislike guns and believe in social causes. My best friend TC is a Republican from Milwaukee who owns weapons, believes in conspiracy theories, and is about 10 years younger than I am. He jokes, “I’m not racist or sexist. I dislike everyone equally.” Yes, our friendship is unlikely, but I’ve learned a lot from our connection.

I met him shortly after I moved to a brand-new city

Two days after I moved myself and my aging mom to Florida in 2020, the pandemic shut everything down. I now lived in a state I’d only visited once when I was 17, where I didn’t know anybody.

I searched NextDoor for an IT guy to help us set up our computers, and I found TC. When he came over and saw the towering moving boxes in the living room (the company I hired to unpack never showed up), he also offered to help us get settled.

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“What do your initials stand for?” I asked.

“Total control,” he joked.

Every Tuesday, we had a standing appointment, during which he’d help me with my computer issues. We both wore masks; he didn’t believe in Covid, but he wore them for all his clients. I knew of someone who died of Covid. TC told me about the conspiracy theories he believed about the virus. I wasn’t upset — I just listened.

After work, we’d hang out at Madfish Grill, enjoying $5 Mahi Mahi fish tacos and beers. I paid for his service (he discounted the rate), or he’d say, “Just treat me to the food and the drinks tonight.”

We were always laughing. He told me stories of the computer business that he ran for 20 years; I told him how I ramped up my memoir writing business. He introduced me to nearby Gasparilla Island, Punta Gorda, and Naples on day trips. On one drive, we were discussing firearms, and I asked how many he owned. “Four.” I’d never even touched a gun.

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Barbara Field and her friend, TC, smiling and staring at the camera.
Barbara Field and her friend TC met shortly after she moved to Florida.

Our friendship seems unlikely, but it works

We talk for hours, and I try to avoid politics. Sometimes I say, “No comment,” or “Let’s change the subject,” when he brings something up that we disagree on. I want to table anything remotely political. I’m not one for debating, and TC has become an important part of my life.

Even though we have different views on so many things, we also have a lot in common. We’re friendly, serious about work, and easygoing.

“How do we get along so well when our country is polarized by politics?” I asked once.

“We don’t disagree because you shut me down!” he replied.

While for the most part we don’t talk about politics, if we do, we don’t belittle each other or get hostile. Instead, we joke around and address the topic with lightness. If I want to go to a bookstore and he prefers a motorcycle bar, he’ll say, “Okay. That’s divorce #4.” Or he’ll brighten up and suggest, “I know the perfect place: the shooting range!”

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After I got the booster, TC suggested we go for beers. I needed sleep. “What do you need sleep for? You’re genetically modified by this point anyway!” he said. Rather than getting offended or trying to convince him why the booster was necessary, I just had to laugh. And that moment was a perfect summary of our relationship, and of how we deal with our differences.

We are friends without demanding that the other change their ideology, and without trying to convince the other person they are wrong in their beliefs — even though we do often believe the other is wrong.

Our friendship has taught me that relationships don’t have to rely on compromise or similar views, but can instead be built on what seems to be in short supply lately: kindness and a focus on our common bonds, rather than our differences.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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