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The question

I recently started dating a guy who ticks all the right boxes. He’s charming, funny, handsome, has a PhD and a good job, and – most importantly – treats me well. There’s just one catch. While politically he skews left like me, we disagree on social issues. He’s not convinced that patriarchy and white privilege are real issues. He’s a fan of a certain professor I could do without, and he occasionally references conspiracy theories that make me raise my eyebrows. My friends say he’s a waste of my time. I argue that part of the reason our society is so divided is that no one listens to what the other side has to say. The two of us have good, thoughtful conversations about these topics, and he’s already ceded a few points, as I have. I see this as an opportunity to help someone see the world in a different way. And I get a hot guy in the process. Win-win, right?

I threw my friend a party and was never thanked – should I be angry?

I’ve fallen for someone who’s unwilling to commit. What should I do?

I quit smoking, but my husband refuses to support me. What do I do?

The answer

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think anything in this life is “win-win.”

You win some, you lose some. Try to manage the damage (with the help of your friendly neighbourhood advice columnist) and live to fight another day.

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I don’t think even Brad Pitt would describe his life as “win-win.” He’s rich, incredibly buff, handsome, has been with numerous gorgeous women, lives in a mansion and has a career most could only dream of. But if you asked him: “Brad Pitt would you call your life ‘win-win’?” I imagine he would shrug his Adonis-type shoulders and perhaps a look of sadness would come into his chiselled features and he might say something to the effect of, “I’ve had my ups and downs like anyone.”

I’m just guessing. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’d just laugh and say: “Are you joking with me right now, Dave? Look at my lifestyle! The jets, the yachts, the private islands, the women! I do a fun thing that makes me a lot of money! ‘Win win’? Why not try ‘win-win-win-win’?”

That’s assuming I could even get in touch with him. I doubt I could even get hold of his peoples’ peoples’ people.

But enough about Brad Pitt. On to your situation:

I don’t think it sounds so bad! So your beau loves a prof you’re not crazy about. No offence but if that’s your worst problem, count yourself among the lucky top percenters when it comes to relationships.

I find it interesting when couples argue over what, in effect, are abstract matters.

It’s good, really: intellectual cut and thrust and all that (many of my American relatives’ marriages are embroiled in battles over Trump.) But to me it’s enough to manage personal conflicts in a cohabitational relationship (e.g. “Stop leaving your socks on the floor!”) without plopping the political on top of it.

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But that’s me. The good news? As long as your discussions are respectful and do not have an ad hominem component (e.g. “You’re so dumb for thinking that!”) I think there’s nothing better in this life than a lively debate. Keeps everyone’s rapiers sharp to have to stand behind what you think and feel.

Just remember to keep your button on the foil.

As to changing the way he looks at things: well, that’d be a first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone change their opinion on anything for any reason, let alone someone else trying to persuade them.

But you say he “ceded” some points. Good sign! Flexibility is key to a good relationship.

It’s funny, for some reason I zoom in on the conspiracy theory component. A bit worrisome, maybe. My computer guy repair guy is a conspiracy theorist and is always trying to convince me the moon landing was faked. And it’s a little odd.

But hey: who knows? Once we thought the world was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. And it’s true that lunar module does sort of look like it was made from cardboard.

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Basically if you and your hot PhD guy with a good job (even I am drooling over the sound of him) who treats you well can keep your debates respectful and civilized, you are definitely on the winning side of the spectrum and you should just tune out your friends’ criticisms.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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