Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Talking Politics With Friends

DEAR NATALIE: With all of the insanity surrounding the upcoming election, I find myself in tense debates with people I used to consider friends. Some of these conversations have led to the ending of friendships, which I never thought would happen. I have had to also block people on social media because of their political leanings, and I am saddened by this. How can I keep my friendships with people once I see things that they have written about the candidate and party I support? I don't want to end up isolating myself after the election. Thoughts? -- SEEING RED AND FEELING BLUE

DEAR SEEING RED AND FEELING BLUE: We aren't all going to agree on everything. It would be a boring world if we did. But what can strengthen relationships is looking at an issue that you feel passionately about from different angles and being willing to talk about solutions with people who have different perspectives. Diversity in thought is what leads to great ideas and great milestones being reached. Because you are feeling upset and angry, take a break from social media. You aren't going to magically change hearts and minds from your Facebook posts, and most likely, you are just going to upset yourself and alienate others. Find other ways to channel your passion for this election. Get involved with an organization that supports causes you believe in or help people to register to vote. Use that frustration to do something that makes an impact instead of just venting and arguing with people you would rather keep as friends. And when you are with friends, don't talk politics! Talk about art, music, vacations, books -- anything but politics. Remind yourself why you are friends in the first place by finding places of connection not division. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)