Not only with Covid: The reasons for the change in the person are often influenced by external circumstances – new relationship, new phase of life, new mindset thanks to yoga retreat. Once you have identified what is causing the change in the other person, you can address it. And – even if that doesn’t “help” – you don’t always have to separate for good. Sometimes breaks are good for friendships too.
But as the saying goes: friends are the family you choose. Emphasis in this case on: choose! That’s why you should always ask yourself: is it still there? Holding on to something that drains you for too long can lead to mental problems. Leaving it out completely is also not a solution; sooner or later, political issues creep into the conversations. But even here there are so many nuances. Something out of the question like racism should never be tolerated; if someone votes for the FDP and you vote for the Greens yourself, a friendship can endure that.
Friendships and Politics: Points of contention are easy to find
Speaking of nuances, there are so many individual unknowns in the friendships versus politics equation. For example, if you have a certain point of view on an issue like sexism through experienced trauma, it is all the more difficult to understand the view of a friend who thinks differently about it. But that should also get the other person to be particularly compassionate here. In general, red flags are with everyone: everyone somewhere else. Setting boundaries is a deeply personal matter.
As already mentioned: With certain topics it is also worth not discussing them at all, for example equality or racism. But there are so many more issues where you think you are on the only right side, but where the other person can also have good arguments: nuclear phase-out vs. letting things go, rearmament vs. disarmament, more vs. less Country. And everything has become more complex: even conservatives are in favor of climate protection, left-wing liberals also see the need for military strength in view of the Russian war of aggression.
Probably the most polarizing topic at the moment is really climate protection – and the protests of the “last generation”. This is where opinions differ. Some think protest needs to reach a new level because not enough is being done to stop humanity’s greatest threat – climate change. The others point to ambulances getting stuck in traffic and the fact that this type of protest hits the wrong people. But here, too, one can seek a kind of consensus: perhaps agreeing that climate change is really scary, that too little is being done – but that people have different ideas about how to protest.
Friendships and politics: We can’t find a common denominator – what now?
Because not being of the same opinion is the most normal thing in the world. Our society lives from different influences, orientations and impressions. This is the only way we can continue to develop together and become more cosmopolitan, tolerant and aware. In a friendship, however, it can become a real stress test when the other person suddenly has a different world view that doesn’t match your own. Here you can find out how best to deal with friends who have different political views and when it might be a better move to break off contact.
1. Let the person opposite you speak
As in any discussion, let the person you are talking to finish speaking, don’t interrupt them, and give them space to say what is important to them. You probably don’t like being constantly interrupted either, especially when you’re trying to explain your point of view. Only in this way is a respectful exchange possible and can take place at eye level. Especially when it comes to political issues, it can quickly happen that the dialogue becomes quite emotional and heated. Therefore, try to remain factual and not involve or even attack anyone personally.
2. Don’t force your beliefs on anyone
You probably won’t like the feeling that the person you are talking to is trying to impose their own opinion on you either. Everyone is entitled to represent and stand by their own point of view. If you try to convince everyone around you of your attitude instead, you will quickly realize that it costs you a lot of time, nerves and work – it is definitely not worth it.
3. Agree to disagree
The aim of your discussion should not be to end up with the same point of view. Of course, it would be nice to find common ground on some point and come to a common denominator. But even if that’s not the case, you should still be able to look each other in the eye and say, “You know what? Let’s just agree not to agree.” Yes, we know it takes a lot of self-restraint and control. But that’s what a tolerant approach is all about: being able to let other opinions and arguments stand, even if you don’t think they’re right.
4. And what if none of this works?
But let’s start from the real thing. Let’s say your friend declares to be against feminism for whatever reason, to have something against the LGBTQIA+ community, or he:she speaks out against people with an immigrant background. Of course, we hope that’s not really the case – but what if it is? If it turns out that your counterpart opposes everything that defines you and your personal values with his convictions, it is incredibly difficult to simply continue as friends afterwards.
Sooner or later your interactions will probably feel very cramped and unnatural if you always leave out that one issue that separates you so much. So withdraw for a while and don’t make any decisions based on emotion. Then think about how and if your friendship might look like for you afterwards. If that’s not possible for you, it may actually be for the best to go your separate ways – even if it hurts. It is quite possible that after a certain time you will find each other again and can rebuild your friendship. The most important thing is open communication and treating each other with respect.