[Editor’s note: Every week New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
I’ve got a friend who I love dearly, but certain things about her just drive me insane. I can’t stand her taste in music, movies, clothes, and I really don’t like her views on politics. Sometimes I get so frustrated and upset by the stuff she likes, I have hard time being around her at all. But when it comes to spending time together, we usually get along great and have tons of laughs just hanging out. We’ve been friends for over 10 years, but I find it harder and harder to relate to her tastes. Am I being shallow? Can we still be friends?
– Love Hate
Dear Love Hate,
You don’t have to like everything about someone in order to love them as a person. And you don’t have to relate to every single aspect of your friend’s life in order to have a meaningful friendship. In some social relationships, you can enjoy someone’s company simply through a shared interest in things like music and movies. But with other friendships, the bonds go deeper and have little to do with style or taste. The beauty of humanity is in finding common ground. Anyone can look for a reason not to like someone — but it’s when we go beyond our differences and look for ways to understand each other that we truly experience the spirit of unconditional love and togetherness. That’s why we can develop very close bonds with very unlikely people – someone much older than us, or from a different background, or in this case, with much different tastes in culture. It’s great when you can agree with someone on everything, but it’s unrealistic and uncommon, and also potentially boring. What’s to be learned when you’re only hanging out with mirror versions of yourself all the time?
Even if you don’t like your friend’s tastes in all the areas you listed, people’s tastes change — both your friend’s and your own. So who’s to say you won’t end up liking some of the same stuff someday anyhow? And maybe your friend will turn you on to some cool things you wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.Try to be easy going and keep an open mind. Most of all, don’t be too hard on your friend about what gives her happiness. It’s draining and painful for both of you to focus in on what you don’t like, and there’s absolutely no shame in avoiding topics that cause arguments and anguish. If she’s a super left-wing Democrat and you’re a staunch Republican, then it’s probably best to not discuss politics, unless you want your friendship to feel like a TV news debate and you like getting all worked up.
And some people do like friendships based on arguments — just like some people love constant drama and emotional back and forth. It depends on what you truly value about this friend, and from what you’ve said, it sounds like you just enjoy her, pure and simple. Sometimes the best friendships are solely based on being with each other. You don’t need to say or do anything to enjoy someone’s company or be very close friends. After all, you have the most important thing in common already — you’re both human beings living in the world. Focus on that, and let the rest of the stuff go for now. Oh, and don’t forget to party! That always helps too.
More:Ask Andrew W.K.