How to avoid friendship breakups due to heated political discussions during election season

Posted at 5:41 AM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 08:17:11-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Political debates are known to get heated on the debate stage, but arguments can also get heated among friends and relatives.

Danielle Jweid, a Virginia Beach-based counselor, told News 3 she has had to step in the middle of some of those arguments between friends.

"When it comes to friends and family, we already have a certain comfort level where we may delve into politics more readily than you might with someone you don't know at all," Jweid explained.

Assumptions like those can lead people to believe their friends may have the same mindset as them, only to find out they don't.

"It's a terrible loss, because it's something that didn't need to happen,” Jweid said. "It's hard to put a number on it, but I would definitely say it does increase during election years, because people do get into these discussions."

Politics has been compared to sports where people root for a side, are happy when their team wins, but may get upset when their team loses. However, Jweid said politics are different.

"With politics, it touches upon our lives,” Jweid said. “So it's going to touch upon your values, your beliefs."

If you start a political discussion thinking you're going to win, Jweid says chances are you'll probably lose – either the argument or the friendship. She elaborated on some steps to take to make sure your discussions with friends don't get heated.

“If we're all looking to get along, a big piece of it is going to be, 'Can I admit that there are some faults on my side and good points on your side?'” Jweid said. "If you want to name-call a candidate, ask yourself, 'What does that mean? Why am I name-calling then? What is it I don't like about them, and can I use words that are persuasive and respectful?'"

And if that bridge is burned, Jweid recommends doing the following: "I'm going to come up to that person and say, 'You know what, I behaved in a way that I wasn't proud of. This conversation could have been better.'"

Her takeaway point, she said, is “noticing that there is not all good or all bad in a person, or a candidate, or a party."