Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Politics Gets in the Way of Friendship

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have distanced myself from a friend who supported a different political party than me during the last election. She and I had gotten into some pretty brutal debates on social media, and I finally had had enough of it, so I blocked her on all social media and basically stopped talking to her. Although my side won, I have been questioning whether I should have distanced myself from her because of her political views. Is it too late to reach out to her and apologize? The last time we spoke was in October, and I miss her. -- Political Divides, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

DEAR POLITICAL DIVIDES: The great thing about living in a democracy is that our culture is designed for people to be able to fight hard for their beliefs and then regroup after an election. There is nothing easy about standing up for your party or candidate and facing off with people who do not share your views. Yes, sometimes friendships get fractured in the fray. During this past presidential election, people dug in along party lines. The levels of animosity, disdain, anger and dissension were extremely high. It can be hard to recover after such a swirl of emotion.

But you can do it. Or at least you can try. Reach out to your friend and ask if you can get together. Apologize for being so intense during the election season. Tell her that you miss her and hope you can restore your friendship.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor uses my side of our shared driveway whenever she has company over. We have a mutual agreement that we can use each other’s driveways when we have company, yet I don’t recall agreeing to a weekly sleepover of her and eight friends. For the past four weeks, she has had these big groups, and there is no room for even my car sometimes. How can I rescind our agreement? I don’t want to start any neighborly conflicts, considering we will both be here for a while. -- My Driveway, Catonsville, Maryland

DEAR MY DRIVEWAY: You have to speak up. Tell your neighbor that her large group weekends are taking over your life -- well, at least your parking space. Acknowledge that you two agreed that you would be flexible with the shared driveway when you have guests, but you had no idea she would have large groups every weekend.

Suggest to her that her guests park on the street or somewhere else. Not having a place to put your car every weekend doesn’t work. If she balks, point out that the driveway is to be shared. It is unfair for you to have to give up your space on a weekly basis to accommodate her parties. Put your foot down. It could get testy at first, but if you remain clear and strong about your position, your neighbor should eventually come around.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)