God is dead, eating meat is mass murder and there are more than two sexes. At the latest when such theses fall, you know that the small talk phase of a conversation is over. But difficult and serious topics should not be a reason for panic between good friends and partners! A plea to get to know each someone properly!
Sooner or later it comes to this in every significant interpersonal relationship: Conversations about sensitive topics, social taboos, emotionally occupied and basic issues. You suddenly talk quite literally about God and the world..
In dealing with acquaintances, colleagues and relatives that you do not know well, it often makes sense to avoid controversial topics. After all, you want to be polite to each other. Conversation topics that touch the inner convictions are there hindering: you can step on the feet of the other much too easily and already the relationship is disturbed..
And also on the first date are topics, where it is about the whole, not necessarily recommended: after all, you want to sniff thereby first something and not immediately lead a fundamental debate.
But honestly: what makes a real friendship? And what a really close relationship? That you can talk about everything, really about everything. And that you can also be quite different opinions, without it immediately breaks the friendship or relationship.
Just with the people who are particularly close to me, I have already led some great conversations about the very big issues and learned a lot about my interlocutor, but also myself. That such deep conversations are possible is what makes a really close friendship for me. And the same goes for a good relationship..
To a good conversation belongs to listen carefully to the opinion of the other, not to be opinionated if you disagree and also in a passionately led discussion not all too much hineinzusteigern. Which is sometimes not so easy. But if you want to get to know someone properly, you should not shy away from delicate topics of conversation, on the contrary!
Have you ever had a discussion about whether there is God or not? If so, then you certainly know, no matter what point of view you yourself hold, that one quickly comes to the limits of rational argument in the process.
It is all the more important not to dismiss the opinion of the other as complete nonsense, but to accept it as a legitimate view. Besides, it is much more interesting to find out what the other person’s opinion is based on: why does he believe what he believes? What considerations bring him to be a devout Christian or also Muslim, agnostic, atheist, esoteric supporter?.
Religion is about the very big picture of the world: what is happening here anyway? What is the universe? And what is the meaning of life, if there is one? So it’s a topic of conversation where you learn a lot about what really matters to someone and how they see the world.
I can still remember it well: relatives are visiting, you talk and everything is harmonious. Until we turn on the news and someone can’t resist making a terse comment. Immediately, a political debate breaks out and the mood is in the toilet. Particularly hot topics: Immigration, social justice and of course the Middle East conflict..
Despite this, it is worth discussing these issues with the people who are close to you! There is no better chance to expand your own political horizons. After all, who do you listen to rather than these people?
Sometimes a conversation about politics leads unawares to a discussion about alternative views on world politics, in other words: conspiracy theories. Many of them are harmless or so absurd that you can make fun of them (keyword: Lizard people)!
Caution is advised, however, if your counterpart is convinced of a theory. Especially since a whole series of these alternative theories have clear overlap points with right-wing extremist ideas. Especially if you do not know his interlocutor for too long, you should listen up and scan, which world and human image behind it stands..
In the worst case it can happen that one goes after such a conversation at a distance. Because if the beliefs are fundamentally different, you automatically go emotionally at a distance.
That women belonged to the stove and men had now times the larger brains, so hardly someone will say seriously in a debate. Nevertheless, feminism, or what is specifically understood by it, is still a hot potato. Can prostitution be legal? Is pornography degrading in principle? Women’s quota: yes or no? And is a working mother a Rabenmutter?
These questions still regularly cause heated discussions, by the way, also among women. In addition, the gender theory that has become increasingly popular at universities in recent decades. According to gender theory, it is simplified that social gender, i.e. gender-typical behaviors, is a pure construction and must be considered completely detached from biological gender. This approach has triggered a whole wave of indignation and is questioned not only by patriarchally minded men..
More fuel thus, but also a super topic for exciting conversations and the exchange of different perspectives, in which women and men can get to know each other properly.
As a gay man, I often had to let people ask me questions that were certainly not meant discriminatory, but in my ears just sounded pretty absurd: When did you become gay? – Now this is not meant badly, but what went wrong there? Or especially philosophical: If you already have the one, why do you look for that again and not the other?.
What I want to get at: even in our western enlightened, permissive and partly pornoized society a conversation about sex can still touch latent or open taboos and prejudices. And that doesn’t just apply to sexual orientation and sexual identity, and questions like… Are transgender youth already allowed to swallow hormones? Are children’s books about gays, lesbians and transgender really necessary? etc.
In any case, you learn a lot about the tolerance, openness, taboos and fears of a friend or partner when talking about sexual inclinations..
At the latest when you have your own children, the topic of education becomes a fundamental issue, where people pretty soon develop firm convictions. After all, as a parent, you naturally have the right to raise your children properly and are highly sensitive to well-intentioned advice from others, including friends. And last but not least, there can also be disagreements between parents about parenting methods. All the more important then to talk about it sensibly and extensively!
When you talk to a friend about education, it is important that you do not give the impression of wanting to talk someone into the education of their children or to know everything better (even if you had children perhaps first). And, conversely, don’t immediately take a friend’s advice or a different view of parenting methods as a personal attack. Rather openly discuss the pros and cons and especially exchange experiences..
Before two friendly families go on vacation together, the parents should agree in any case on a few rules, such as when the children of what age must be in bed. So you can avoid unnecessary conflicts on vacation together from the outset..
The debate about abortion in this country is not quite as militant as in the U.S., where the camps of abortion opponents and supporters have formed the striking slogans PRO LIFE and PRO CHOICE. But still, it is a thoroughly controversial topic, and in the end there are not only two positions. For example: if a woman was raped, a larger majority would certainly grant her the right to abortion than if her pregnancy was the result of her own negligence..
In a partnership, this topic is of course even more delicate, but actually all the more important to talk about it – before it could become relevant unplanned.
The question of the value of life plays of course also a decisive role in the question of whether you eat meat, or not, or whether you reject animal products in general. On the one hand, there are extreme animal rights activists, such as those of PETA, for which the killing and consumption of an animal in every respect is equivalent to the killing and consumption of a human being – that is, an act of absolute barbarism..
On the other hand, there is the meat-is-my-vegetables faction, for whom, in turn, vegetarians and vegans are simply crazy ecohippies who constantly want to dictate to them and prohibit the enjoyment of a juicy steak. Most people, however, probably have an opinion somewhere in the middle. So for example: Organic meat is ok, but factory farming is not. Or: I don’t eat meat, but everyone must know that for themselves..
Despite this, I have already led and witnessed some conversations and discussions with friends, where opinions have clashed. What can I say: be tolerant and listen to each other!
Violence is not a solution. Or is it? As a first measure and as a universal remedy – no no rational person would probably claim that. But what if our country is attacked? Should we stand by defenselessly because we would rather be radical pacifists than defend ourselves? And what if another country is attacked and needs our help? Do we have the right to intervene and send troops there? Maybe even the duty?
The war in Kosovo, the war in Iraq, the defense of Germany’s borders in the Hindu Kush – military operations and the question of whether and in which cases they are legitimate move people’s minds. No wonder, given our history in the 20th century. But can radical pacifism be the solution? What would happen if, for example, the USA scrapped all its nuclear weapons? Or even just the entire military stationed in Europe would withdraw?
Daily death is present in the news: terror, war, earthquakes, epidemics. Nevertheless, the own death is still a big taboo subject. Of course: it’s not exactly the most cheerful topic of conversation for a nice round of beer and pretzel sticks. After all, most topics in this list are not..
But with the best friend or the partner, there are moments when you simply have the need to talk about the really important questions of life. Here we come full circle to the first topic: religion..
What does the other actually believe happens after death? Do you just decay to earth or does something else happen there? Are you afraid of death? How do you imagine death?
Such questions are more intimate for many people today than, for example, the question about their sexual preferences. So it is all the more important to talk to someone about it. You catch a glimpse at the innermost of a person: his hopes and fears..
It’s in conversations like these that you can possibly get to know someone you’ve known for years. But that’s exactly why you should never, really never force such a topic on someone and respect if the other person does not want to talk about something..
Otherwise, if it arises naturally from the situation or in conversation, it is precisely the delicate, embarrassing, difficult and controversial topics that can produce the best conversations with friends. It just gets down to the nitty gritty. And only then, you get to know someone properly. Or?
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