4 Ways to Repair a Friendship
In light of the political divide and extreme differences of opinion over the pandemic, friendships and family relationships have suffered. What can be done to restore peace?
You know that feeling of dissention that lingers in the back of your mind? It won’t totally go away until one of you makes a move to pick up the pieces.
Before forging ahead, evaluate the relationship. If you know it is a healthy and supportive one, keep pacing toward reconciliation.
Now reflect on how deeply rooted political views and responses to a pandemic are for each of us. Recognizing that someone you feel a sincere connection with does not line up with your core values can be rather hard to accept. In fact, polls suggest that singles on the dating scene find a prospective match as less attractive when they identify themselves as politically different. We have just emerged from a season of judgements from every direction and our differences in perspective are the ripest they have ever been.
The truth is, we are not as far apart as we imagine. Each political party has value and a perspective that is considerate of our fellow humans and country. As time passes and these divides fade away, the endearing characteristics of our friends will stand out to us more. Yet healing the wounds of things said in defense of our beliefs can feel as if we are stuck at an impasse. Supporting a candidate or party does not mean someone believes in every ideal represented. Oftentimes we adhere to affiliations sparked in our youth and hold to them like we do our heritage.
If you care about someone, you will naturally want to help them see the light by swaying their beliefs. But, remember they want to sway yours just as badly. Recognize that each of you are displaying your concern for the other in this way and at this point it is time to jump over the divide and head toward a brighter future with the friend you had pre-election or pandemic.
Making a repair requires a plan. Decide what methods of communication will work best for reaching out to this person. An email, text, phone call, or personal letter/card are options. A first attempt can be brief and simple to demonstrate you still care and want the relationship to continue. All of us want to feel respected, especially by those you consider friends. So, extend that respect by letting them know what you find special about them.
After offering respect and concern for your friend, follow up with a simple apology. For example: I’ve missed your smile and laughter lately. I think I offended you last time we talked and I’m sorry for that. We got a little wound up and I know we just see some things differently.
Reestablishing your connection is important while either tabling or completely tossing election discussions aside for the moment. When and if you agree to discuss your differences again, approach it through a new lens. Stick with discussing your belief without attacking or judging the opposite views. If you have felt hurt or attacked by your friend, use “I statements” to convey your feelings. “I felt hurt when you talked about …. but now I realize you weren’t directing that at me.”
Remember, this is an incredibly unusual season and we have gone through the worst of it. We need strong friendships to weather life’s storms. Social support is one of the most valuable protections from our stresses. If we pull together despite our differences, we will only get stronger.