Advice from Amy: Politically Divided Friendship
Can such an old friendship survive this division?
Dear Amy: I recently reconnected with my old best friend. My BFF and I were like sisters during our school years, starting in first grade and extending through college. We have kept in marginal touch since then, texting a couple of times a year.
We are both in our late 60s.
It has become apparent that we are opposites regarding many of our political and societal views. Some of her comments have rocked me to my core.
I did not want our first conversation in years to devolve into an argument, so I expressed the fact that I have opposing (way more liberal) views than she and tried to direct us back to family updates.
She seems rather reclusive and extremely anxious.
I don’t think she has many friends and was very grateful to talk to me. She wants to continue our calls. However, I am struggling with whether I can maintain a relationship with her.
I can’t stop thinking about how repellent some of her prejudicial opinions are to me.
While we have a rich, shared history, we really don’t seem to have a lot in common now, but part of me thinks I should give it a chance, if only to maintain superficial contact for old times’ sake.
Do you have any guidance for how I might navigate this potential relationship?
– Missing my BFF
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Dear Missing: If your BFF is isolated and anxious, she might have fallen into a hole of following online extremists who use a virtual pipeline to flood people with alternate realities; then the algorithm kicks in and feeds them more of the same.
For people who are already isolated and anxious, this constant triggering can make them even more anxious.
I’m not necessarily concluding that this has happened to your friend, but it is a possibility.
If statements she has made have rocked you to your core, then you should be honest about that. If your friend is simply on the opposite end of the political spectrum from you, there might be ways for you to discuss your divergent views without getting into an argument.
Doing so might be good for both of you, but ultimately you get to decide how much effort you want to put into this relationship.
I think you should hang in there for a bit, to see if you can revive your previous close connection. Why? Because you miss her.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson