For the first few days after my flip he couldn’t stand to be near me. He repeatedly told me he was disgusted by my energy, and he couldn’t bring himself to touch me or to speak kindly to me. His comments were painfully cutting and sarcastic, and at times he would slam doors. On day three, he sent me a text and asked me to promise that I wouldn’t hurt him in his sleep. This was too much. How could he ever think that I would have any desire to hurt him? I felt unsafe and unloved. I packed my bags and left, willing to end the relationship if it came to that.
But Dave didn’t want to lose me. He agreed to learn anger management techniques and to watch “Fall Cabal.” He thought the series was full of crap, and tried to talk me out of my new beliefs. The more he tried, though, the less safe I felt in his presence and the more I turned to my rapidly growing community of QAnon friends. Dave started talking with his therapist and a psychologist friend about my sudden switch, trying to make sense of how the woman he loved could become a different person overnight, or so it seemed.
Eventually, his therapist told him to treat it as if I had found Jesus and may never again be the person I once was. “Can you accept her as she is and still be happy in this relationship?” the therapist asked. His therapist also suggested to Dave that he stay close to me, to keep our relationship as solid as he could — to help me avoid doing irreparable damage to my life and friendships as I was tumbling deeper into QAnon.
He didn’t tell me at the time, but he gave himself half a year to figure out if he could make us work despite the growing differences between us. Dave decided to give it all he had. He learned to approach my new views with curiosity instead of judgment. But he also had to set boundaries and ground rules: I only shared QAnon-related information with him when he was willing, and he promised to make time for these conversations once a week. We also both acknowledged that neither of us could say for sure what was truly going on and decided we were willing to hold different beliefs — without trying to bring the other over to our side.
“I am open to the possibility that I could be wrong,” Dave said. “Are you willing to meet me there? Would you be willing to consider that while you’re feeling really certain about things, there’s a possibility that there’s things you’re seeing that could be wrong?”
I agreed. That was the first crack in my firm belief system — allowing myself to simply consider the possibility that I might be wrong despite feeling as sure as I was.
The ability to talk to Dave about my QAnon-induced fears was very grounding for me and good for our relationship. (My initial QAnon euphoria wore off after a few weeks, leaving me with unease about the dark world controlled by the Cabal.) When I was scared that President Joe Biden would mandate all people get vaccinated, I could go to Dave with my fear. I didn’t trust Big Pharma and believed that Bill Gates played a devious role in the push to get everyone vaccinated. Dave told me, if such a mandate were to happen, he would be willing to move to a country that did not have those requirements. But, he also said, we had to wait for undeniable evidence before acting.
When it came to safety measures against Covid, we had to compromise. I believed that Covid-19 was a real virus, but I thought its deadliness had been blown out of proportion by the media. (News media said we lived in a hot spot, but we heard of no one who got sick.) I didn’t wear a mask outside, but Dave and I agreed that I would wear one when we went anywhere indoors. I also agreed not to hug people and kept at least a three-foot distance when engaging in conversation.