In the months leading up to an election, friendships are tested with a bombardment of opposing Facebook posts, political ads, and arguments. But what happens after the election? Does your friendship just go back to normal, or do you continue to argue and remain resentful over things said during the campaign? Here are some things to keep in mind following a big election.
Readjust Your Mindset
In a political year, opinions can get dissolved down to one or two points that make people think either they are on one side or another. But in friendship, you can't judge friends just by one or two things. You have to look at the whole of their character.
After an election, take a mental step back to examine your friendships again. If you've been feeling anger toward a friend's political take, try and just see where they are coming from. Remember, their experience in this world is different than yours, so the way they vote or how they feel on issues is probably going to be different, too. That's okay.
In fact, differing opinions can help you expand your own worldview. So appreciate the fact that friends can continually help you grow in this way rather than getting angry that they aren't more like you.
Did You Get Blocked? How to Mend Fences
Facebook and other social media outlets allow people to express their opinions freely to their network of friends. In a political year, it means some of your friends might not like your opinions and continually posting about them makes your friend feel as if they're getting bombarded with your take on things.
If they disagree, this can cause ill feelings between the two of you or even result in your friend blocking you altogether. Once you're blocked, it's hard to get back to being friends again online.
If you've been blocked, chances are you and your friend are having problems outside the social networking world, too. Perhaps you're not even speaking.
Give your friend a call or email saying:
"Hey, things got really heated during the elections, and I apologize if I offended you. I want us to be friends again, so let me know what's wrong and how I can help us get back to normal."
It should be noted that normally you would not apologize with an "if" statement (I'm sorry "if" I offended you) but in this case you're pretty sure you did since the blocking came after the elections. If your friend confirms this, then give them a real apology ("I'm so sorry I offended you") and allow them to vent about what they feel is wrong in the friendship. After your friend shares their frustration, they may be willing to start again.
Find a New Topic to Talk About
Even if your friends have not told you they are annoyed with your political rants, they may still feel as if you're over the top. Check yourself to make sure that you're not boring people with constant talk about the election, no matter who won. Focusing on one topic only (regardless if it's on politics or something else) gets old very quickly.
Remember what good conversation between friends is all about. If you really can only think of one topic, then you need to branch out. Allow conversation to be fun again by listening more than you speak. Your friend will help guide the conversation to what they most want to talk about with you.
If your friend is the one that's stuck on politics, you can say:
"I'm tired of talking about politics. Aren't you? I'd rather find out what's been happening with you instead."
"I doubt we'll ever agree on politics, but that's one reason I like having you as my friend. You expand my horizons. Let's change the subject, though, so we can enjoy our time together."
"Looks like we agree to disagree on things, but that's okay. Let me buy you a cup of coffee and let's catch up on what else has been happening in our lives."
Apologize in Order to Move On
Very often feelings can get hurt during an election when you find out one friend not only has an opposing opinion, but makes a judgment about something in your life. It's too easy to judge the actions of others without fully understanding their situation.
Ideally, as a friend you should be trying to find out why a friend might have made the life choices they did, or why they choose to vote the way they did. Your job as a friend is not to judge but to understand your pal.
If you failed to do that, apologize so you can both move forward. You can say:
"You know what? I didn't realize all that you had been through, and even though I disagree with some things, I really care about you as a friend. I'm so sorry that sharing my opinions has hurt your feelings. Your friendship is important to me, and I'll do better to be cognizant of that in the future."
If you can't bring yourself to apologize, ask yourself:
- Is the friendship still important to me?
- Do I respect my friend even though we disagree on things?
- Has this person been a good influence in my life?
If you answered yes to these questions, you owe it to yourself to apologize and mend the friendship. Remember, having friends isn't about changing minds so your friend begins to think like you do. Good friends really are hard to come by, so don't let a few misunderstandings or differing opinions allow things to spoil things between the two of you.