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JCC How do you deal with friend/family relationships across political divides? [Poll & Discussion]

Discussion in 'Community' started by Pensivia, Oct 24, 2020.


When it comes to friends/family who have political/social views I find deeply offensive...

  1. I strictly avoid ANY discussion of politics with them because it would damage my relationships.

    14 vote(s)
  2. I discuss politics with them, but I focus mainly on trying to understand where they are coming from.

    12 vote(s)
  3. I discuss/debate/argue with them in an effort to get them to change their views.

    5 vote(s)
  4. I know neither of us will change our views, but I get into heated debates/arguments with them anyway

    11 vote(s)
  5. My awareness of their views (even if not discussed) has negatively affected my relationships.

    9 vote(s)
  6. I have relationships that have been seriously damaged or destroyed due to such issues.

    5 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Pensivia

    Pensivia Force Ghost star 5

    Apr 24, 2013
    I've thought about this issue a lot in recent years, but of course this topic is not limited to Americans/the Trump era. I am very interested in international experiences/perspectives as well.

    So, what are your experiences with maintaining close relationships with people whose views you find offensive? (I'm not talking about lesser disagreements of course, but views relating to issues that you deeply care about, especially views that you find morally objectionable)

    How much do such differences affect your feelings about those individuals/those relationships?

    For relationships that have become more difficult to maintain, how big of a role has social media played in creating those difficulties?
  2. JoinTheSchwarz

    JoinTheSchwarz JC Head Admin & Community Manager star 9 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 21, 2002
    What about "I don't have friends or relatives with social or political views I find deeply offensive"?
  3. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 10

    Sep 27, 2000
    I would be willing to discuss, but my mom is totally unreasonable. So we avoid it entirely.

    My dad has actually become more reasonable, so we talk in private about how much both sides suck.
    Juliet316 , Vialco and Master_Lok like this.
  4. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Jul 29, 2016
    I know that a couple of my small number of friends have views right of center, but I usually only talk politics with my left-leaning friends, family and coworkers. I have one friend who is a Kasich-type, but he hates Trump.

    I won't bring up the subject with most people unless I know ahead of time that they lean left.

    No Republican family that is still alive that I interact with or live in the same state as. My grandparents were the only Republicans and every succeeding generation has been more left-leaning. My parents and most of my family are Clinton/Biden-type Democrats.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
    Pensivia likes this.
  5. harpua

    harpua Chosen One star 9

    Mar 12, 2005
    1000% avoid.
    Juliet316 , Vialco, Pensivia and 2 others like this.
  6. Point Given

    Point Given Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Dec 12, 2006
    In terms of U.S. politics, my entire family are Democrats, Most of my friends are also Democrats, and those who are Republicans are Never-Trumpers. I had two former friends who are still Trump supporters, but there's a reason I used "former"

    For other politics and religion, one of my cousins is basically a Salafi, I don't really talk much with him, but during the few times we interact we're civil with each other and don't discuss religion at all. My grandfather is a Modi supporter sadly, but he's reasonable to discuss politics with.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
    Pensivia likes this.
  7. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrel Rangler of Fun & Games star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Jul 7, 2000
    Only republicans I know are at work and I don't discuss politics with them, or should say they won't discuss with me anymore as they fail to explain why they support such an uncouth, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, serial sexual abuser, pathological liar and scientific ignoramus in the Oval Office.

    As to friends, they're all some sort of Democrat or at least non GOP, or doing a damn good job to hide it... as they should.
  8. CairnsTony

    CairnsTony Force Ghost star 4

    May 7, 2014
    I make a habit of avoiding right-leaning people who wish to befriend me -and quickly disavow those that do of the idea that they'll get a free pass for their views-, but alas I have two right-leaning immediate family members who grind my gears on a fairly regular basis. Both of them live in the UK: one of them is actually pro-Europe, but her husband is a Nazi. The other has never done a days work in her life, having married young to a POS, and been kept in a certain manner that she has been able to exist for decades in a bubble. I have a short fuse with the latter, and her ill-informed opinions and I don't hesitate to disagree, and if need be vehemently argue with, either of them or any of their nearest and dearest on these topics.

    This has been very difficult at times, to the point where it has influenced my decision to move back there; but alas the Morrison government here in Aus brings out the Nazis as well.

    I've gotten to the point where I don't care to tolerate anyone I work with either, or their politics and I will also argue with total strangers; including two Americans who waited, like me, for the bus up to Macchu Picchu in Peru last year, whilst casually insulting the locals in English because they felt they shouldn't have to be made to wait. I had no qualms in telling them what I thought of that attitude.

    That might make me sound like a bit of a bastard, but I can tell you I wasn't like this for a very long time. But I've gotten to a point in my life, where I cannot tolerate certain types of people any longer.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  9. 3sm1r

    3sm1r Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 27, 2017
    I engage vehemently and I go full arrogant jerk if needed, more or less like I do in this forum.
  10. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 I Am Speaking in Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    I have one first cousin with terrible pro-Trump gun-fetish views. I haven’t seen him in three years and I hid him on Facebook five years ago. When we do see each other in person, we pretty much just say hello and that’s it. His parents, my Dad’s oldest brother and his wife, were rapid Republicans and vocal about it, but they died before Trump ran for office.

    The family that I spend holidays and vacations with are all Democrats, same with friends.
    Juliet316 likes this.
  11. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

    Aug 16, 2002
    I don't think politics are somehow isolated from a person's character. If a friend supports Donald Trump in 20-****ing-20, they won't be my friend anymore. I consider a lot of other right-wing or conservative views to be friendship ending or at least seriously damaging. Thankfully my immediate family are reasonable enough, but I have a bunch of cousins out there in Texas and the Dakotas/Minnesota who are lunatics and I don't care to associate with them. My dad recently showed me a photo of his older sister with her children and grandchildren and others in a big ol' family gathering in June. No thanks.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  12. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
  13. Jabba-wocky

    Jabba-wocky Chosen One star 9

    May 4, 2003
    It's a mix with me. I have a friend who is very conservative, but is also a voracious reader and shares a lot of my interests. We used to happily weave politics into our broader discussions. Sometimes agreeing, others disagreeing, and at others gaining insights from one another. I do think we've definitely influenced one another's thinking: he is now a supporter of single payer healthcare, or instance.

    However, since Trump's election in 2016, this has become basically impossible. Differences that were once possible to elide are now central to the national political conversation because of Trump's behavior and policies. It is deeply uncomfortable. Our relationship now depends on us identifying enough explicitly non-political things to keep the conversation. We've both, at times, been explicit about avoiding politics for the sake of our friendship.

    To be clear, it's not that I feel all his views I disagree with are acceptable to hold. But charging at them directly in a hyper-politicized environment is almost certain not to get him to change. Whereas it will pretty easily lead to ugliness.
    Pensivia likes this.
  14. Darth Punk

    Darth Punk JCC Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Nov 25, 2013
    I didn’t have a problem until mum joined Facebook should be an option
    solojones, Rylo Ken, Pensivia and 4 others like this.
  15. Rylo Ken

    Rylo Ken Force Ghost star 6

    Dec 19, 2015
    I grew up in conservative downstate Illinois but in a university town among a progressive enclave of faculty families. My parents' families are both from Alabama, the reddest of red states. My sister has become extremely wealthy and has been partly poisoned by immense privilege. It's a tough needle to thread talking to all these people and keeping my cool, so mostly it's the harpua approach. I will have political fights with my sister, because she really wants to be progressive, and I know her so well and have known how to fight with her for so long that we've found a relatively safe space for beating each other senseless over class problems.

    I fight with my oldest son a lot too over politics. He was a Biden supporter from the beginning. How does that even happen to a 24 year old? I'm hopeful that living in Manhattan among finance sector professionals won't completely drain him of all his humanity. I don't want what has happened to @dp4m to happen to him.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  16. Dannik Jerriko

    Dannik Jerriko Jedi Knight star 3

    Sep 12, 2017
    Personally, I have learned to avoid political discussions around certain topics. I don’t have many friends or family who could be considered right-wing or Conservatives, so arguments are not often an issue.

    At work, I try to avoid the politics altogether (unless I’m talking to someone I know agrees with me), but I have found myself working with the occasional Tory. It doesn’t really bother me and I’ll happily argue the toss with them if they want. I’ve never had any big bust-ups because we all have to work together in an enclosed space (often on a boat), so we all know when to back off.

    I’m also Scottish and pro-independence and I have lost friends over this issue. This happened during the 2014 referendum on independence when I posted some links and information on Facebook, which bothered some unionist friends. Following the result, these friends gloated over Facebook and I engaged in debates that would have been better avoided. We have never been comfortable around each other since and we only see each other when mutual friends invite us both out for dinner or drinks.

    It’s a shame, but we were never particularly close and I did learn a lesson. When two people are deeply entrenched in their views, there’s little to be gained from debate and a lot more to lose. I now purposefully avoid this topic around certain people because I value their friendship and I don’t want to compromise that (I think they do the same with me).
    Pensivia and Jedi Ben like this.
  17. Point Given

    Point Given Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Dec 12, 2006
    One of my younger brothers is a financebro and a Berniebro so it's possible.
    Darth Punk , Pensivia and Rylo Ken like this.
  18. Zapdos

    Zapdos Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 7, 2013
    i mostly just discuss tough topics with a select few people. mostly i prefer to just listen. i like to hear how people think, even if deeply disagree. i might ask them follow up questions and try to dissect their arguments but i likely will not try to counter too much. its usually just cus i cant bother. its too much work for too little pay off most of the time, so im happy with just listening and trying to understand how they function.

    edited cus i used the word mostly like ten times
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  19. FatBurt

    FatBurt Chosen One star 6

    Jul 21, 2003
    Thankfully no one in my family is Tory so I have no arguments politically with them. My dad can be a bit Brexity at times but did vote remain.

    Work are well aware that I lean liberal/Left, I'm very anti Tory party and pro remain. There are as a result some people who will only speak to me on work related cases and if we have a works do, there is an unspoken agreement to stay away from each other when we've had a drink.

    I've still got a Facebook account but have disabled the app on my phone and don't log in on my PC because I found it depressing how many friends from school who are pro Brexit/Tory (and also a little bit racist)
  20. Runjedirun

    Runjedirun Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 3, 2012
    Until 2016 politics was never a discussion, for me. I don't remember it getting into our family at all. I quit facebook after 2016. I thought it might help me to hate my relatives less if I have to see them at family gatherings. I still know what they support so I don't bring it up. The toughest situations are:

    My BIL, my sister's husband. He LOVES to talk politics and he's right wing and he just assumes you want to talk. One time we took our kids to the mall to see Santa and he was talking about how awful Starbucks is for bending to crazy liberals. So I held up my hand and said "crazy liberal right here." He got the hint, thank goodness. Other times after a family meal he's brought up politics and I've literally walked right out of the house.

    My mom, she was heavily influenced in the last election by both of her brothers who LOVE Trump. My mom used to vote democrat when I was younger, but she didn't like Obama either and I don't know why. She doesn't like to talk politics. However, I'm actually unsure who she's voting for this year. I think she realizes what an awful mess we are in and can't vote Trump again because she said recently, "I can't believe it's only been one term. I can't believe all the scandals there have been." From the beginning my mom seemed to be second guessing her vote. My mom has always been too easily swayed by the opinion of others. I actually talk politics a lot with my mom. I feel responsible in teaching her what's right because my crazy BIL and his family are down there talking how great Trump is all the time and I don't want her falling for that.

    Which brings me to my sister. I avoid most conversation with her because I'm flat out angry she married who she did and they have a child who's got to listen to his father. UGH. It makes me sick. My sister says she hates Trump, but how can she live in a house with someone who is so pro Trump? No husband is perfect, but if my husband didn't hate on Trump with me, I'd walk out. Sometimes my husband is the one to bring up how awful a policy or something he said is. We agree the man is the worst ever, I couldn't be married to someone who didn't agree on that. It's a deal breaker.

    Thankfully most of the rest of my family lives out of state and we aren't travelling or seeing people :) Most of them I don't get along with politically. I call myself the "black sheep". Of course my friends are liberals. You get to chose your friends!
  21. 3sm1r

    3sm1r Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 27, 2017
    I feel that the problem is also that most people look at politics with a very superficial attitude, in the sense that they might discuss it from time to time but it's not very important to them. And they are used to that mindset. So, when someone is more deeply involved and get heated they might genuinely be surprised.
    I've noticed this with several people I know. They don't really think things through. They might read some random article once in a while, and maybe post it on Facebook, but it's generally quite far from the top of their priority list. They aren't very curious about what's going on.

    ^ this is all to say that very often attitudes that disgust us from our friends and relatives is not due from actual evilness, but rather from the fact that they are not used to really get into things, when it comes to politics and social issues.
    Pensivia likes this.
  22. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 5, 2011
    I've loved these two comments today.
    People knowing what they want, and accepting no alternative. Straight power moves. I love it.
  23. Rylo Ken

    Rylo Ken Force Ghost star 6

    Dec 19, 2015
    The media is constantly talking about how white women, never his biggest fans, have abandoned Trump completely. But I haven't seen any discussion outside of right now about what that looks like at the household level where, presumably, the men haven't all had the same epiphany about Donald (he's bad and I feel bad that I voted for him, and I won't do it again).
    Rew and Jedi Ben like this.
  24. Pensivia

    Pensivia Force Ghost star 5

    Apr 24, 2013
    Thanks for all the great replies everyone! (And thanks @CT-867-5309 for giving me a great chuckle with your Homer gif:p) I am very interested in hearing everyone's experiences and opinions.

    ^My biggest issue in this area has been with one of my oldest and closest friends. I met her in college, and even though I've always been a bleeding heart lefty pretty much from high school on, politics didn't really enter into the friendships I made then (this was the late 80s/early 90s) . But I went out-of-state to a college in a very conservative area and a lot of my friends then came from that local area.

    In the intervening years, I knew my friend was a highly religious conservative Christian and conservative politically, but we never really talked about politics much and it wasn't until I saw her posts on Facebook in 2016 that I realized what a lot of her viewpoints on political/social topics actually were. It was kind of shocking--and she wasn't even a Trump supporter then (she voted 3rd party, write-in or she might have just not voted for president). We ended up getting into a "discussion" about it via Messenger at the time and even though it remained very civil, I honestly was so disgusted that I came quite close to writing her a "Dear Jane" end-of-friendship letter. I decided not to though, and later on, after a period of staying more distant after the election, we eventually reconnected over non-political topics, and I felt really glad that I hadn't ended the friendship.

    Enter 2020 and the fact that though she didn't vote for Trump in 2016, she has announced (on Facebook) that she will be this time. It's just stunning to me (how can someone become a new Trump supporter this year?!). I don't think she's aware that I can see her posts because I stopped using Facebook in 2016 and now I basically only log in to lurk her posts, I guess from the same impulse that makes us stare at car accidents or disgusting bugs.

    I've decided (at least up to today, lol) to just "compartmentalize," avoid the topic, and try to get through this election with the friendship intact. But it's very weird to exchange emails/texts with her and make no mention of not only the election, but also the pandemic (because of course she thinks it's overblown, etc.). It feels hollow but then on the other hand, we were extremely close in college and throwing the friendship away would sort of feel like throwing an important part of my past away. I've always had a tendency toward nostalgia, but as I've gotten older, I find I value that sense of "shared history" that comes with old friends even more.

    I guess I make excuses for her in a way too, because it's clear to me from her Facebook posts that her ability to evaluate information sources and her critical thinking skills generally are very poor. I kind of wish I had the time to go through her posts with her point by point, just to see if anything I could say or show her would "break through."

    Maybe I'm naive, but sometimes I think I could get her to see some things differently, because she's had other big shifts in her views even in the last few years--she used to interpret the Bible more literally and deny (or at least "question") evolution, but a few years ago she discovered the existence of evolution-accepting Christians (like Francis Collins, director of the NIH) and did a complete 180 on that issue. But I don't have the time I think it would take to make a dent in all the misinformation she's absorbed.

    TL;DR: I have an old friend who has become a Trump supporter and it's been bumming me out:p
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  25. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Chosen One star 6

    Apr 25, 2004
    If they start spouting a bunch of propaganda, just tell them straight-up and calmly, "sorry no, I don't agree with that". The best offense is a good defense. Republicans are running a massive smear campaign against Democrats, but once you counter that, they don't have a case anymore.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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