Ask a Former Stress Addict: Pacifying Politics

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Dear Fiona,

I consider myself a political person. I have well-informed opinions on almost any political topic you can think of, and I enjoy thinking and talking about politics. The thing is, I don’t like doing it all the time. Not with my friends. I feel like recently what all my friends do is talk about politics and the upcoming presidential election.

At first, it was interesting, stimulating and fun. But now it’s just frustrating. I am sick and tired of talking politics with my friends! Either we all agree on a subject and it feels like preaching to the choir, or we disagree and we argue the subject into the ground. Either way, the conversation is not productive. What can I do about this? I don’t really know how to approach this situation.

-Defeated Debater


Dear Defeated Debater,

The best thing you can do is talking to your friends about it. Say exactly what you just said to me, to them. They should be able to take your feelings about the situation into account; they are your friends, after all.

Though the solution to your problem is fairly simple, it’s not a simple problem. As for myself, I spend so much of my alone time thinking about politics or reading up on political issues that the last thing I want to do when I’m unwinding with friends is talking about politics. It’s like if you work with kids a lot; you might want to spend your free time hanging out with adults. It’s not that you don’t like kids — if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be working with them! — it’s just that you need some grownup time in your life. This sort of principle applies in this situation. It’s all fun and cool, but everything in moderation.

The best advice I can give is to be honest with your friends. If you just sort of change the subject every time politics come up, they’re going to think it’s weird. It would be much better for you to instead just be direct and honest about how you feel about their discussing politics all the time.

I went through this with a friend of mine. I felt exhausted by how much they talked about politics and I just couldn’t take it anymore. After several weeks of stewing about it, I finally opened up about how I felt, and they were really receptive. We still talk about politics, just not as often. They usually wait for me to bring up the topic, which is really respectful of my feelings and reflects the wishes I had expressed at the time.

Of course, it is easier to explain this when you all agree on a topic of political discussion. If you don’t agree, and it’s causing tension, approach the situation with compassion and urge others in your friends group to do the same. A little compassion goes a long way. If you approach the conversation with a set opinion that you need to prove to someone, you’re not learning anything, and the other person is just going to become more entrenched in their opinions. Have compassion for each other and really listen.

If this is something that you and your friends cannot do, then that is a good enough reason to not talk about a divisive subject. If no one is willing to be compassionate and listen to one another, there’s no point in continuing the argument.

All in all, the best thing to do is to be honest. These people are your friends. They want you to be happy and enjoy the time you all spend together. They will understand that means not talking about politics as much.

Good luck!