*Friendships across political lines* is a challenging topic to write about, in part, because there is so much intense energy around this topic. It is difficult to know where to begin. And that, I believe, is a reflection of how challenging this topic can be in friendships too.
If you want to talk politics, where do you begin? Are there issues you avoid? And, as stated in one article I read, how do you *know when enough is enough*? When might you need a break from talking politics in certain friendships?
I don’t know about you, but I have definitely made assumptions about people’s political views (or the strength of their political convictions) that turned out to be incorrect. And, I have also assumed that because a friend self-identifies as belonging to the same political group as me, that this means we share the same values. Also not necessarily true and definitely limiting.
In friendship, we hope we can be accepted as we are. We hope that there is room for our similarities and our differences. And yet, when it comes right down to it, our differences can be very difficult to tolerate or accept. Our differences can drive us apart, polarize us, and they can lead to cut-offs or endings.
Navigating friendships across political lines is challenging and can be distressing. And, we need strong, healthy, flexible friendships more than ever right now, for our collective health and wellness.
Interestingly, one study…found that, *[while] people tend to seek out others with similar political views, the researchers noted, other factors mattered more to the success of a friendship: trustworthiness, dependability and an easygoing manner.* (from What Makes for a Good Friendship). This is likely true in some friendships, which is good news!
Social media seems to be a place where many of these polarized conversations are unfolding, so, how do we resist *knee-jerk* reactions to things our friends say or post? Can we stop and consider our response (can be easier said than done) and try to shift to being open and curious? Can I find common ground despite our differences?
We are wondering, have your friendships survived political differences? And, if so, how?
And, what can we do? How can we approach this topic with our friends?
Here are a few thoughts and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions too!
One possibility, which may depend on the kind of friendship you have with someone is: *Get some of your political differences out of the way with a friend, [this] may help the two of you find common ground on other issues, especially when the subject is approached from a place of mutual respect.* (Stephen Antczak, Next Avenue Contributor)
Or, alternatively, do you agree not to talk politics?
Consider your friends perspective (this does not mean agreeing) and the bigger picture. And ask your friend to do the same for you. Is there space in your friendship for both perspectives?