How To Maintain Friendships When Party Lines Intersect
Maintaining friendships can be difficult, especially those that span across party lines. When it's an election year, it's a whole different story. A common solution that's provided to this problem is to just "not talk about it." But, when we don't discuss politics or avoid them altogether, that leads to ignorance, and ignorance is NOT bliss. Here are some solutions to solve those friendship woes:
1. Listen – As simple as it sounds, one of the simplest ways to keep your party line-crossing friendships alive is to just listen to your friend. Reach out to them, and be willing to listen to their point of view, even if it’s hard. Communication is key, and listening to your friend will show them that you care.
2. Avoid labels – As tempting as it can be, make your strongest attempt to refrain from calling your friend names or labeling them. Buying into stereotypes that are promoted by our political parties won’t have any positive effect on your friendship, and can quite frankly lead to the demise of a friendship quite quickly. Don’t take things personally – try your hardest not to interpret your friend’s opposing opinion as a personal attack on you.
3. Don’t force your opinion on your friend – Making conclusions for others rids people of their ability to make decisions for themselves. Always make your best attempt to let your friend discover at their own pace. You’re fully allowed (and should) encourage your friend to research and develop their own opinions, but don’t force anything on them. Making the attempt to force your opinion on others almost never ends up well, no matter how right your opinion is.
4. Avoid the “me vs them” trap – Do your best to prevent conversations from becoming confrontational. Political conversations are nothing more than talking about what you two believe is best for your country – the country that you two share. As hard as it is to realize, you two are both trying to work for the common good of your country, you just might not agree on the steps or plan to get there. If you and your friends shared every single opinion together, your friendship would be quite boring, and honestly, wouldn’t give you the opportunity to gain intellectual intelligence through challenging political conversations.
5. Leave out the final word – If conflict DOES arise with your friend, don’t jump to get the final word. It’s not that important, and quite frankly, it can break your friendship. Disagreements can sometimes lead to needed conversations, which hold numerous emotional and intellectual benefits.
6. Recognize the foundation of your relationship – It’s hugely important to remember why the two of you are friends in the first place. Maintaining truly strong friendships requires the acceptance of difference in opinion to some degree. Take a step back from yourself and think about why you value that friend – are they kind? Helpful? Loving? Try to look at the positive, center yourself, and recognize that politics shouldn’t be a reason to put the cap on the friendship.
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Kristina Smith is a first-year student at Sweet Briar College in Amherst, VA. At Sweet Briar, she's a member of Delight Ministries, Campus Events Organizations (CEO), and she serves as Secretary of her chapter of College Republicans. She grew up in a strong conservative family where she learned how to stand up for her beliefs and share them with others! As 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong."