Losing friends and family over politics
Instead Of Losing Family And Friends Over Politics, Experts Say Communicate : NPR
J.Stone/Imazins/Getty Images/ImaZinS RF
J.Stone/Imazins/Getty Images/ImaZinS RF
If you find yourself fighting with a friend over politics, or frustrated and furious with your nearest and dearest over whom they're supporting for president, you're hardly alone. A recent survey shows just how much the nation's bitter political divide is causing social splintering and taking a toll on friendships. Even decades-long relationships have been caving under the pressure, giving new meaning to "social distancing."
"I did straight up say, 'Dude, I'm done. Lose my number,' " said Shama Davis from Los Angeles, recalling when he "unfriended" a guy he'd been friends with since high school 25 years ago.
"I just hung up on my end and proceeded to just block him in every possible way," said Joni Jensen from New York, still fuming over the guy she felt compelled to dump.
And betraying just a tinge of regret about cutting off his cousins, Ricardo Deforest of Tampa, Fla., conceded, "I hate to say it because family is everything," before unabashedly proclaiming, "I disowned them. In my mind they're not family anymore."
They are among the many Americans for whom political rifts have deepened. It's one thing to disagree about something such as tax policy, they said. But they see their differences now as ones of basic morality, core values and character, and that cannot be overlooked.
Davis, 42, a consultant who is Black, said he simply could not abide his friend downplaying police brutality, and harping instead on the looting and violence happening amid the mostly peaceful protests.
"I told him, 'If this is your attitude, we can't be cool anymore,' " Davis said. " 'I don't respect you now. I don't. Because people are really dying.' "
Jensen, a retired professor, also sees it as a moral absolute. As a sexual assault survivor, she said, she couldn't stand it when the guy she'd been close to for 40 years was being cavalier about the allegations against President Trump's then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Kavanaugh vehemently denied the sexual assault allegations.)
"He was going off like, 'Oh, you drank the Kool-Aid,' and 'Kavanaugh didn't do anything,' " she recalled. "It made me sick. If this is his core ethics, I don't want that kind of person in my life."
Conservatives can be just as quick to spurn the liberals in their lives who clash with their core values, such as life and liberty — which is the biggie for Deforest.
"They sold our country out," Deforest, a 61-year-old steelworker, said of those on the left of the political spectrum. "This election is about the soul of what America is. You can't be a free country and be a socialist state at the same time."
He said the acrimony he's feeling from what he calls "hardcore Trump haters" was as much a factor in his decision to cut them off as their differences that gave rise to it.
"All they can do is say, 'Trump is a racist. Orange man bad! Orange man racist! They're blowing spittle, and [their] veins popping out of their heads," he said. "Yo soy Latino. But [they assume] I'm some sort of horrible racist because I like Trump. It's ridiculous!"
Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center, said political polarization is more intense now than at any point in modern history. Nearly 80% of Americans now have "just a few" or no friends at all across the aisle, according to Pew. And the animosity goes both ways.
"Democrats are a little bit more likely to say they'd end a friendship" Kiley said. "But Republicans may be less likely to say they have friends on the other side. So it may not be all that differential."
Another recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 8 in 10 Republicans believe the Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists, while 8 in 10 Democrats believe the Republican Party has been taken over by racists. The report is aptly named titled "Dueling Realities."
Tania Israel, a professor in the counseling, clinical and school psychology department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said she's seeing more of those kinds of distorted views in the workshops she runs on cross-the-aisle conversations. The rancor is rising, she said, as both sides "tend to view the other as being more extreme than they actually are."
Another thing conservatives and liberals have in common, she said, is that they all suffer from big blind spots when it comes to the morality of their own side. They tend to view themselves as eminently fair and right, and the other side as irrational.
Case in point: Explaining his politics, Deforest noted, "When I say all these things, I think I sound fairly reasonable," while declaiming the other side with, "There's something wrong with these people."
Jensen, meanwhile, is just as certain, upbraiding the guy she was arguing with as "brainwashed."
A little more listening to understand, a little less trying to convince, and a lot more intellectual humility would do everyone a world of good, said Israel, who's also the author of Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work.
"We're flattening people out in terms of our view of them," she said, "and we're not really seeing the full complexity of people on the other side."
It's exactly what Jon Langford, 28, a Georgia truck driver, said he experienced when his brother, who is gay, wrongly assumed the worst about him.
"He went off on me saying essentially I'm a racist and a homophobe just because I'm a Trump supporter. No ifs, ands or buts. And he completely cut me out of his life," Langford said. They haven't spoken in years.
Now, Langford said, he's determined not to do the same thing to his friends across the aisle, including his best friend, who supports former Vice President Joe Biden. As Langford sees it, no one has a monopoly on morality.
"I could assume that anybody that supports Biden is a firm believer that it's OK to murder a baby," he said. "But I don't."
Another conservative, Judith Margolis Friedman, may be one of the few who can claim that she's managed not to lose any friends over politics. But she said that's because she kept her political views secret for fear of "social suicide."
"I would politely nod and go along to avoid conflict [...] with people whose relationships I valued," she said.
Instead, Friedman vented in a secret Facebook group that she said was a "safe space" where she could "commiserate with other people who also feel shut out from their regular life because of their views."
But this month, Friedman couldn't take it anymore and "came out of the closet," deciding that if people dumped her over her politics, "they weren't real friends after all."
She's hoping friends will give more weight to the person they've known for years, than whom she chooses to vote for.
When Dating In The Era Of Divisive Politics, Both Sides Stick To Themselves
- NPR One
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
- RSS link
"If someone expresses a more conservative worldview, they're immediately called a Nazi and a racist and a misogynist and a homophobe and everything under the sun," Friedman said. "I'm none of those things. I'm just a normal friggin' person who has a different point of view."
At the other end of the political spectrum, Jeff Marinstein, a business and technology consultant from Connecticut, has also been trying to get past the ever-intensifying invective and insults from "friends."
One, in particular, kept attacking him as a "libtard," among other things. Marinstein no longer talks to that guy. But with another, he's trying a new strategy to save the friendship, suggesting they keep talking, just not about politics. So far, it's proving harder to enforce than he thought.
"I'm still getting this nightly stream of New York Post articles and memes [mocking] Democrats, and I simply respond with a funny line that says, 'This post violates our agreement not to talk about politics,' trying to creatively send the message that I just don't want to engage," he said.
Whether the strategy ultimately works or not, Marinstein said, he wonders whether it may ultimately be doing as much harm as good.
"It just feels like the healthiest thing for me to do at the moment [is] to lower the temperature and to not continue these toxic conversations," he said. "But I suppose the risk is that I'm just retreating into my own information bubble with people who think just like me."
Indeed, experts said it's more conversation — not less — that's needed, if the nation is to heal its blistering divide. But it has to be healthy, productive conversation. And Israel, who runs the workshops on civil discourse, said the first step must be to take it off social media and talk in person instead.
"The only useful comment that you can make on somebody's social media post is 'Can we find a time to talk about this? I'm interested in hearing more,' " she said.
How to Not Lose Friends Over Politics I Psych Central
Building trust, listening to understand, and setting boundaries can help you communicate effectively with a friend who has different political views.
If you feel it’s difficult to discuss politics with friends and family members these days, you’re not alone.
The political divide in the United States has been growing steadily for years. According to a 2020 Pew Research survey, the majority of Donald Trump and Joe Biden voters report having “just a few or no friends who support the other candidate.”
Debilyn Molineaux, president and CEO of the Bridge Alliance — a coalition of organizations across the political spectrum working together to promote healthy self-governance — and co-publisher of “The Fulcrum,” says that historically, cycles of intense disagreement within our society typically happen during times of large wealth gaps between the working class and wealthy elite.
“The social contract has broken down,” she says. “We need a new one, and we’re arguing about it.”
Although we’re more polarized than we’ve been in modern history, it’s still possible to have productive conversations about political beliefs.
“Difference and disagreement are healthy and necessary for a thriving democracy,” says Richard Weissbourd, senior lecturer on education and faculty director of the Human Development and Psychology master’s program at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“We need to disagree on issues so that we can learn and gain from different perspectives,” he says.
When a friendship is built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect, it can likely endure political differences.
Good quality friendships can be important to mental health. A 2019 study suggests that strong friendships might contribute to having a positive attitude about life overall.
Findings in a 2010 study suggested that strong friendships might even be linked to a longer life expectancy.
“[Friendships] can give us a greater sense of meaning and purpose, help relieve stress, help us through hard times, and make life more enjoyable in general,” says Vinita Mehta, PhD, a clinical psychologist and media expert in Washington, D. C.
“And for those who have difficult or toxic family relations, friends can be chosen family.”
A good friendship can add value to your life. According to a 2021 study, good friends can provide:
- a sense of social support and companionship
- encouragement and help developing and sticking to healthy habits
- positive impacts on self-esteem and life satisfaction
But not all friendships meet these criteria, and you may choose to end the relationship if it’s no longer serving you.
“If you’re walking away from interactions with a friend consistently filled with negative feelings, then it sounds like a time to reflect on what is happening,” says Mehta.
People often seek to connect with others who share their values and belief systems. If you feel as if a friend doesn’t share your values, it could cause a divide. Political beliefs are no exception.
“Politics [have become] a really big part of people’s identity, so [some might] feel a threat to their identity when engaging with someone who has a different view or a view they feel is harmful or misguided,” says Ciaran O’Connor, chief marketing officer of Braver Angels, an organization seeking to depolarize American politics.
O’Connor also attributes some polarization to the fragmentation of today’s media.
Social media algorithms and partisan media outlets, such as conservative Fox News and its liberal counterpart MSNBC, contribute to polarization by putting people in echo chambers. Two people can get very different information, depending on the outlets they watch or follow.
If you feel a friendship is otherwise solid, and you want to avoid breaking it up over political differences, here are some communication techniques you can try.
Build a strong foundation
It can be tempting to launch into a political debate. Still, if your goal is to maintain a friendship and have a constructive conversation, O’Connor recommends first building trust with the other person.
You might do that by talking about the things you have in common, discussing issues you know you agree on, or really getting to know the person and trying to understand their values and lived experiences.
“For people with very different political views to remain friends and understand each other, there needs to be a strong foundation of respect and openness to listening to the other side, even if there is disagreement,” says William Chum, LMHC, a psychotherapist based in New York.
Listen to understand
Instead of going into a conversation with the goal of making your point or changing the other person’s mind, try active listening — listening with the goal of understanding the other person’s views and perspective.
To do that, you can:
- use “I” statements
- paraphrase what the other person says and repeat it back to them
- ask questions to learn more about their values
Jessica Hare, DSW, MSW, vice president-outreach at American Promise, advises practicing effective and efficient communication and setting boundaries to keep things respectful.
It’s a good idea to decide on boundaries before starting a conversation where you and your friend have vastly different political views. Here are some boundaries you might try:
- agree to hear each other and still accept that disagreeing on the issue is OK
- decide not to cut each other off while speaking
- allow for either party to ask for a break if they’re having strong feelings
What this might sound like
If Hare wants to communicate a boundary, she’ll say something like this:
“I respect your angle in our discussion, but I feel myself getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Is it OK if we pick this up at a later date when I’m in a better mental space?”
Check in with your feelings
Try to check in with yourself and observe how things make you feel during a discussion. Is the tone of your voice changing? Can you feel your mood shift?
If things are feeling too intense, it might be time to set a boundary.
Molineaux says she monitors her own triggers internally and will take a step back if she feels herself escalating and wanting to be right or prove a point.
Although things seem divided, there are still some subjects most of us agree on — such as caring about our country and corruption caused by money in politics. These can be good topics to discuss when you’re looking to find common ground.
Weissbourd says a key finding from his research is that people aren’t as divided as we might assume. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to a 2021 survey by the Making Caring Common Project agreed with the statement, “In the end, we’re all Americans. I genuinely care about all Americans no matter their political views.”
“So much of the fundamental problem in the country is that people feel like nobody is listening to me,” says Jeff Clements, president and board member of American Promise, a nonpartisan organization working to organize Americans to amend the Constitution and address unchecked political spending by corporations, unions, special interest groups, and wealthy individuals.
By “nobody,” Clements means the government and elected officials. He believes every American should be represented in our political system, but not everyone is being heard right now.
“Very large donors to campaigns are heard a lot by elected officials and the media,” he says. “They have a big voice and a big wallet.”
Voters polled across the political spectrum seem to agree. A 2018 poll conducted by the University of Maryland found an overwhelming bipartisan majority sees the importance of reducing the influence of big campaign donors.
A 2018 Pew Research report found that almost two-thirds of the public support limits on political campaign spending and see news laws as an effective way to reduce the role of money in politics.
Deciding to end a friendship over politics is a personal call. Every relationship is different, so you’ll ultimately want to take stock of how you feel when interacting with the person.
There are times when it might make sense to close a chapter on a friendship. Still, it’s also possible to maintain close relationships with people with very different political beliefs. It just might take a little patience and practice.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of political conflict,” says O’Connor. “So many people aren’t achieving anything outside of making themselves angry and anxious. Having the conversation is a way to get to the heart of the issue.”
Actual! How not to lose relatives and friends because of disagreements
In the current realities, it is very difficult to resist discussing topics related to politics and economics. Due to different opinions on emotions, you can lose a loved one. How to act so that this does not happen?
9 April 20223 720
How to prevent quarrels with loved ones?
Psychologist Tatyana Vorgul told how to relieve stress in the current realities and not succumb to negative emotions:
“If you look at any disagreements among relatives on any occasion and at different times, it is always obvious: if a crisis of communication sets in, it means that the reasons for this lie not in political, economic or global world problems, but in a single family. If now, in connection with the current situation, conflicts arise on a political or financial topic, try to take advantage of this.
You can discuss the latest news in our Telegram, VK, Yandex.Zen
- "Faithful projector": in other words, try to transfer any conflict interaction to specific events in your family. Arguing about the conflict will not affect him in any way, but a constructive conversation about real problems among relatives will help a lot;
- "Together we are strong": do not forget the main rule - the family is not a burden, but a place where they are ready to help and respond. Take advantage of this opportunity, do not miss the chance for dialogue;
- "Warm hugs": rejoice that there are close people next to you, do not forget to talk about it more often and ask to be reciprocated. And most importantly, remember that seven hugs a day reduces the risk of developing depression to zero. Hug more often.
- remember that a dispute within the family does not affect the duration, rigidity or change in the political situation, therefore its discussion in a raised tone only harms you and your family;
- try to understand that everyone has their own opinion. Take a simple example for comparison: a person with bad eyesight tries to offer his glasses to a person with good eyesight, but the person starts to refuse. And this is logical, because everyone sees as he can;
- do not forget about personal space or make a rule in the family to stop the conversation when it violates the integrity of the family.
Tatyana Vorgul knows how to strengthen the family
There are several solutions:
- Together try to revise the main items of expenditure, perhaps in some of them it will be possible to painlessly remove several items;
- do not miss the opportunity to use various promotions, coupons and discounts that are now available in any stores and services;
- try not to make spontaneous purchases in a state of anxiety, stress. Do not let a thoughtless now and later unnecessary purchase become a “depression pill”;
- consider this period as a new stage in improving your financial literacy.
In the current realities it is difficult not to succumb to emotions
Mental hygiene or infovacuum
Do not forget that sometimes intra-family crises are your projection. In other words, you have no real reason to be angry with your husband, mother-in-law or brothers and sisters, but the news stories from the Internet and TV irritate your psyche. You may be angry at the dollar, rising prices, destruction, but your household will become a buffer for draining negative energy. Therefore, here, in order to reduce the risks of a conflict situation, it is important to remember a few rules of mental hygiene or an infovacuum:
- dose all the information coming from any channels. If this helps you, remember that there is no real story, there is someone else's - any fact can be painted by a single person in the shades he needs and conveyed under his own sauce. Get yourself a timer with a sound signal to watch news or news feeds (channels). Set no more than 10 minutes for 2-3 times a day.
- select a single source of information. So you save your brain from the inconsistencies of the information offered to it. Using one source, you adapt your psyche to its realities, then it will be easier for you to perceive any news;
- if talking with someone about politics and the current situation leads you to any destructive states (hysteria, despondency, anxiety, fear, anger), it is better to refuse such conversations, if necessary and possible, leave the place where hot disputes;
- and also think about what is easier - to move a rock or a sand castle . .. the answer seems obvious. Form your own position on the current issue and you will be hard to break. Create for yourself internal guidelines that will protect you, but at the same time, do not try to prove to others that your position is the only correct one. Remember, you can't win an argument. Everyone will have their own opinion."
Photo: Pixabay, personal archive
Text author: Marina Sattarova
How not to quarrel with loved ones because of different views on life
Hope Kvashenko Journalist Society Exclusive140
Psychologist Stanislava Zarudnaya named a way not to quarrel with loved ones if views differ
Photo, video: Depositphotos / AllaSerebrina; 5-tv. ru
Read us at: Zen News
Even members of the same family may have different points of view on certain situations or events. Often this becomes the cause of quarrels and conflicts between loving people and can ruin relationships for a long time. How to find a way out? It’s impossible to lose a person who is dear to you because of views on a single topic?
In fact, there is a way to avoid "war" and keep the peace. Psychologist and family consultant Stanislava Zarudnaya spoke about how to do this, exclusively for readers of 5-tv.ru.
According to the expert, we should not forget that each of us has the right to our own views. At the same time, differences do not make anyone better or worse than others. Moreover, because of a divergence in beliefs, people within the same family or circle of friends should not become enemies. After all, it is precisely this kind of social ties that serve us as a support in any difficult times.
As the psychologist explains, the most common way people try to negotiate is that we never discuss a topic that makes both parties nervous or mad. This option is very common and has a place to be. True, there are several nuances due to which the “neutrality agreement” can easily lose its force.
« The fact is that it can be extremely difficult to refrain from comments in the direction of another person. One way or another, we are faced with manifestations of a different opinion in everyday life, in behavior, in actions. Therefore, the simplest call "Let's not talk about it" usually does not work ,” says the psychologist.
Therefore, we can approach the solution of the problem a little deeper. First you need to clearly identify the range of painful topics that you do not want to touch.
After that, be sure to agree that you will not depreciate, criticize each other's views and principles and try to give up "jokes", jokes, and especially insults.
Another important point is that you should not try to convince each other. Because the “I know best” attitude is never effective and will not get your opponent to even listen to you.
Next, you need to determine what you will do in a direct collision of views. What concessions are each of you ready to make. Remember that in no case should you get personal.
" Mentally tell yourself that you love and respect this person. And definitely not for looking at one particular situation, but for everything that a person is and does for you , ”advises the expert.
The specialist also recommends constantly strengthening the emotional connection with a loved one, looking for more common ground, focusing on what unites you.