If you are on my friends list and you learn something about me that you believe to be causing harm to myself or others, I expect you to either speak up about it or unfriend me. If you speak up and you tell me something I hadn't previously considered, or point out something I hadn't noticed, I will be happy for the chance to grow and change. And if you speak up about something I don't consider to be harmful, I will explain myself. I might end the conversation feeling that we are incompatible as friends, or I might end up with new admiration for you, or both. But I do not want to call people friends who consider my actions harmful and do not call me on it. If I think some of your actions are harmful I will express that (if I care for you) or unfriend you (if I feel neutral about you). I want to be able to trust that my friends believe I am not causing harm, so I will assume silence to be neutrality, not disapproval. ( what I mean by 'causing harm'Collapse )
If you disapprove of anything that is a pattern in my life, I feel that it is very dishonest to keep that from me. Instead I would like you to express that in a respectful way, with the expectation that the issue will turn out to be a misunderstanding. Always assume that there is something YOU have not considered, and I will do the same. There is a lot about my life that I share, but it is not possible to put absolutely everything in words, so do not think that you know everything about me and therefore can judge. Not even I know everything about me or my life. When you speak to me, do not judge by saying "you are [negative adjective]!" or "your actions are [negative adjective]!" but instead ASK questions like "why did you do this? it seems to me that that would cause harm because ____" or perhaps "I find your actions to be harm-causing because ____. What do you think/feel about that?" If you're not coming at the subject with an arrogant attitude, there's no way I'm going to be offended. I do not at all mind being questioned or challenged in a respectful way -- the goal of my life is to learn, and how can one learn without being challenged?
I want to be treated kindly but I do not want to be humored. Just be honest with me. If you have a problem with bisexuality or polyamory or nude photography or any other way I live my life, then tell me so, and tell me why. And maybe I will understand your reason and be able to agree-to-disagree. Or maybe I will find your views repugnant, and while respecting your right to have them, choose not to be around them. If you want to be my friend, take the risk.