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A few, thankfully not many, people in my life have been struggling with how to manage relationships with people in their lives who voted for racism, sexism, homophobia, and hate. Some have asked, “What would you do?” And I’ve told them what I would do, and what I have done: I end the relationship. This won’t be the right decision for everyone, but it has been healthy for me.

People grow and change, and our values and ethics become more developed, more defined, over time and as we experience life. What many of us have been led to believe “loyalty” is, is really a construct of people in positions of authority, of people who feel entitled to other people sacrificing their beliefs and needs, to the benefit of the person in power. They want those people to remain in their debt or their employ or their pocket, saved for later when they need something those loyal folks can give.

Loyalty is only authentic when it is felt together with mutual respect, appreciation for one another as equal human beings, and in the absence of a power structure. Otherwise, that feeling you have is called obligation. And you don’t need to feel it. You do not owe your friendship to someone because you have known them a long time. You do not owe your silence to someone because you see them at social gatherings. You do not owe your presence to someone because you are related to them. You only owe it to yourself and anyone you are legitimately responsible for — your children and any adults that are in your care by choice, NOT your partner or spouse — to make the choices that are in your best interest, to keep you healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn’t have to be a conversation, though if you take action without communicating about it, you may be confronted and should be prepared to either respond in a way that feels healthy to you, or not to engage.

I’m not suggesting that everyone unfriend and cut ties with every person they know who voted for hate. I’m saying that if you are questioning a relationship due to a difference in core values, you are allowed to consider options besides allowing people to stay in your life out of a sense of obligation. You are entitled to curate your own life, to choose what you permit to be a part of it.

I choose safety. I choose community. I choose love.

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