This is a tough question to ask and answer. If you’ve stumbled onto this post, you likely typed this question straight into Google and down the rabbit hole you went!
I bet you’ve stumbled onto forums, blogs, and a few news websites, all trying to tackle this question and I guess I am too.
So, here’s your answer; yes. Yes, you can be friends with someone with different political views. Unfortunately, I know that answer is too easy. There’s a lot of gray in between that very black-and-white answer.
In today’s article, we’ll tackle that grey together and see if you can be friends with someone with different political views. So, let’s get into it!
Can you be friends with someone with different political views?
When I opened this article I said that yes, yes you can be friends with someone with different political views. However, with that being said, I have dropped friends in recent years due to politics.
I’d bet my bottom dollar that you have to or that you were the “dumpee”.
While politics has always been a contentious issue and the scourge of family gatherings or late-night dorm room debates, it seems like the climate has only gotten worse.
Personally, I blame the likes of Newt Gingrich and the pandora’s box that he opened during his tenure in Congress but things really blew up with Trump’s run for office and his eventual presidency.
Along with that, you have media outlets, on both sides, pushing agendas to keep you tuned in and ad revenue dollars rolling in.
Put all that together and you get the divisive landscape that we see today and while usually, that doesn’t lead to anything crazy happening, January 6th aside, it does affect the day-to-day relationships that we have.
From work colleagues to potential dating partners, and of course family but what about friends, new and old?
It can get dicey.
How to deal with friends with different political views?
Assuming the friend that you’re asking about is a long-time friend or just one you want to keep, you would naturally want to know how to navigate these waters.
I have friends in my circle that I have had for roughly 20 years. It would be devastating if that friendship ended over a silly political argument.
For better or worse, we all share the same political leanings and that might be the case for you too, depending on your age but for younger people or people with relatively new friendships, when politics was finally broached, you found out that you weren’t on the same page.
So, how do you handle it?
According to the American Psychological Association, there are a few tactics that you can try when dealing with friends during politically charged conversations.
Be open and kind – Remember, this is a either long-time friend or a newish friend that you just made and you do want this to work.
Keep that at the forefront when having these conversations, this isn’t some on-air political debate. This is you and a friend chatting over coffee, it doesn’t have to boil over, you’re not clamoring for ratings.
Be open to what they have to say and be kind and nice. Hopefully, they will reciprocate.
Find areas that you agree – This can be tough in today’s climate. I have strong views on topics and while you and your friend are on opposite sides on some issues, it’s highly unlikely that you’re opposites on all of the issues.
Find that common ground! Maybe it’s tax policy or healthcare. Find that area and it could help find some common ground.
Keep calm when tensions rise – This can be tough. People get very passionate about politics. Whether they have all the facts or not.
Tensions rise and then the next thing you know, it goes from talking about Congress to calling your mama ugly names, and then all bets are off!
It’s important to diffuse it before it gets to that point, take a breather. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, or go get a refill, whatever, just take it down a few notches. A ringside bell doesn’t have to go off here.
Finally, accept that you might not change the other person’s mind – This is big. I feel like one of the biggest things with these types of conversations is that it turns into a sales pitch of sorts.
The person will try to lure you in! Extolling the virtues of “their side”.
I’m sure I’ve done this myself and I’m positive that this tactic works but for this purpose, dealing with a friend with different political views, this isn’t a conversation of absolutes.
This is a chance to sit, listen, and learn and hopefully keep this important friendship going. You’ve given them time to talk and hopefully, they’ve done the same.
There are more tactics that the American Psychological Association recommends and if you want all of these tactics to use when dealing with friends like these, you can read that article here.
Is it worth losing friends over politics?
On the face of it, this should be a ridiculous question, right? Of course, it’s not “worth it” to lose friends over something like politics but it isn’t so black and white.
Let’s get into the gray that I mentioned earlier. Politics lately has become cutthroat.
The actions that have taken place lately like the reversal of Roe V. Wade have polarized the nation. It’s caused lines to be drawn in the sand and as I said earlier, I’ve cut ties with friends in the last few years as a result of political views.
Despite trying the tactics I just mentioned, the conversations kept going south and the beliefs of these friends of mine were just too far from where I was.
There seemed to be no middle ground.
I stopped and thought long and hard about it but ultimately, the decision was made that I just couldn’t continue the friendship. I’m happy to report that it was just a few that I “dumped”.
The common denominator that I found was that the friends that I still talk to regularly, the ones with whom I don’t agree on everything, have something in common.
We have a middle ground and calm interactions.
The others were extreme, it was a “my way or the highway” attitude, and politics or not, that isn’t a good attitude to be around. It’s toxic and depending on the situation, dangerous.
So, where does that leave us for this question? Is it worth losing friends over politics?
It can be. If that “friend” is mean, and toxic, and conversations aren’t productive but rather, turn into all-out screaming matches, then yes, it can be worth it to lose a friend over politics.
The Key Takeaways
It’s no question that politics today in America have become extremely divisive. It’s caused and will continue to cause tension in relationships, from friends to family, and while I truly do feel that a relationship doesn’t have to be damaged because of politics, I also understand that sometimes ties need to be cut.
However, don’t be quick to reach for a pair of scissors right out of the gate. Especially, if the friendship is important.
You two became friends for a reason, there was some sort of common ground at some point, right?
See if you can get back to it before you cut them from your life but if it can’t be found and honest attempts have been made, don’t feel guilty about not talking or hanging out anymore.
American Psychological Association – Managing conversations when you disagree politically
Featured Image provided by Helena Lopes