• Keeping Friends

Friendship after Election Day

Published: November 16, 2016 | Last Updated: November 17, 2016 By | 28 Replies Continue Reading
After Election Day, a woman re-thinks a friendship and considers backing away.


Hi Irene,

I became close friends with another woman a little over a year ago. I prided myself in the fact that we could maintain a friendship despite our ideological/political differences. She always seemed kind and warm and empathetic. But I know whom she voted for in this election, and I’ve seen what she’s been posting on Facebook.

Irene, I am a member of a historically oppressed ethno-religious group, which has been targeted for hate crimes over the last (almost) two weeks. All of the women I count upon as friends, so close they may as well be family, are members of groups now in danger as a result of the groups emboldened by the hateful rhetoric of our President-elect.

They are terrified and afraid for their lives and futures in this country. Their churches and mosques are being vandalized and they are seeing black dolls in nooses hanging outside their places of work.

Knowing whom she voted for, knowing that she voted hearing and seeing his violent rhetoric and the violent behavior and speech of his supporters, I can’t stand the idea of looking my first friend in the eye anymore.

How do I back away from this friendship? I still care about her as an individual, and I know she suffers from social anxiety. I’ve already pulled the “Oh, I didn’t get your text” gambit. I care about her, but I just can’t do it.

Do you have any advice? I am a woman who takes oppression very seriously, and while I can openly discuss opposing political views with others so long as all are respectful, her open endorsement of this man who preaches and encourages (implicitly and explicitly) hate towards minorities is just over the line for me.


Hi Joanne,

After Election Day, many people have expressed similar reactions to friends, social media contacts, co-workers and neighbors who voted for “the other candidate.”

First, I wouldn’t rush to judgment. You can’t assume that your friend isn’t just as upset as you about nasty rhetoric and hate crimes that have taken place since the election. You mention your friend is kind, warm and empathetic, and that you were always aware of ideological differences between you before now. Just because your friend voted for her candidate doesn’t necessarily mean she espouses all of his values or those of his associates.

On the other hand, you have every right to feel disappointed, concerned, angry and hurt about what you have been witnessing in your community. The stakes in this election were monumental and the results will have a profound effect on social policy.

Given your strong feelings, let your friend know explicitly that you don’t want to get together. You can say you are still reeling from the Election Day results, as well as the hatred and intolerance that spewed out afterwards. This would open the door for her to express her opinions to see if you can reach some common understanding—or else, she’ll understand pretty clearly why you are pulling back.

Also, you may want to give yourself some time both to work through your feelings about what has happened and to figure out a strategy for how you can effect the political process.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Previously on The Friendship Blog

Can Facebook friendships be saved once the election is over?

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Comments (28)

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  1. Linda says:

    People just dont get it that change is wanted in this country, Thats what is called a democracy. The people voted and thats what they voted. They voted for change and for more transparency and for so many important issues, to protect our babies in Mothers wombs, our borders, our Military, our Veterans. All these things were amiss under the current adminstration. I am sick and tired of all the rheterioc and the biased left wing news media and college students along with their professors and their safe spaces because they cant accept change and liberal platforms changing.. All you people who voted for Clinton and lost and now we have Trump, America did you the biggest favor of your life!! God BLess America, I cant wait to see America become great again, IF you dont like Democracy and America then you are free to leave and live somewhere else. As far as your friend, The world is a big place with lots of people. If you are willing to ditch a friend over her freedom to choose who she wants for President then that speaks volumes about what kind of tolerance and friend you are. January 20th! Cant wait! Inauguration day! AveMaria Blessings, Linda

  2. T says:

    I’m having trouble accepting some of my friend’s views who voted for that candidate. One thing especially is when they state “Oh when Obama won we were respectful, we didn’t chant or protest!” Which is such a blatant lie. There were NUMEROUS protests, racial slurs hurled, ugly things circulated via social media, people with signs and effigies of black men hanging, yet they all seem to forget they did not act nicely? And now the rash of swastikas and racial hatred incidents occurring all over schools and universities, ugly racist graffiti found in my neighborhood, it’s very obvious these racists feel emboldened. The ‘alt right’ renaming themselves so they sound not so bad as ‘Nazi’s and people are OK with this? I am not OK with my friends thinking this is OK. It’s strained some friendships for sure.

  3. Darlene says:

    It’s easier for me to look at this objectively, I realize, as a Canadian, though we are affected by what happens in the US. But, for what it’s worth, I see a large part of the problem in the US is the extreme degree of polarization, between the rich and poor, left and right, etc.

    To me, it just seems like the extreme left and extreme right are sitting there, doing nothing constructive, flinging feces at each other. It only helps keep people entrenched in their own ideology, spouting rhetoric. What does that have to do with the OP’s friendship problem? Everything. Once people’s feelings are less raw, there may be a chance to reach across the trenches and understand each other better. Build bridges rather than walls and all that.. Why did your friend vote Trump? Is she a bigot? Wouldn’t you have seen evidence of that already? Maybe yes, but possibly not at all. Why not find out? Why not communicate how you feel, your fear and discomfort, maybe she doesn’t understand, but could. What do you have to lose?

    Why are people here talking about walking away from family and friends without at least trying to understand and be understood? Why make assumptions about anyone? Isn’t this perpetuating the problem? Isn’t assuming people’s motives without knowing for sure a form of racism? Painting people with the same brush? Think about it. This could be a chance for your country to
    learn from its mistakes and move forward, or you guys can tear yourselves apart. I hope you don’t. The world hopes you don’t, because you could bring the rest of us along for the ride….

    • Irene (the other one) :) says:

      Darlene – I do agree with you. It’s unfortunate, but what happens in America affects the rest of the world – for better or for worse. We are particularly concerned in the UK, and also other European countries, that Trump wants to abolish NATO. This will be extremely dangerous as many European countries are small in numbers and unable to defend themselves should they be invaded and overtaken by a dictatorial super power. US citizens, think again – politicians are not clowns in a circus, they make decisions that can either enhance or devastate people’s lives, far beyond their borders.

      • Darlene says:

        It’s so true…the US is Canada’s biggest trading partner as well, NAFTA is on the table now, Trump is certainly no fan of that.

        I was personally very saddened at the election results, but not surprised. But, I’ve slowly come to be hopeful that this may result in positive change for the US, people there have it in them to find an answer.

  4. lua says:

    A close friend, whom is AA, just found out three of her friends voted for that candidate and is shocked. She thought she knew them, but apparently not. I told her while it’s not my place to tell her what to do with these friends, I did tell her she may want to evaluate these friendships. They have been friends for 20 plus years, not that it should matter. She said she told them she does not want to discuss politics with them. I told her if they don’t respect your wishes, then to walk away, which she will do.

    To be brutally honest, if any of my friends voted for that, that would be the end of our friendship. I stopped speaking to relatives whom support it. Sorry, but I can’t and will not set aside differences with people whom support a bigot, misogynistic, sexist, xenophobic bully. That’s what this campaign was based on. I don’t care what anyone says. Human rights are non negotiable.

  5. Whitby says:

    Dear OP:

    Though I pretty much agree with everything that Irene wrote, I did want to add the following. How fast one might run away from your friend would depend for me on what exactly your friend has posted on FB. Though I probably have a lot more in common with your political views than hers, and remain appalled by much of what our president-elect said on the campaign trail, even he had some good proposals (re. infrastructure and the undue influence of lobbyists in Washington, for example). Moreover, I have noticed how many of his supporters simply do not take his more incendiary remarks seriously – they seem them less as a series of racist or sexist statements, and more as an index of an apparently refreshing plainspokenness. I am not personally comfortable with this (if a candidate does not in fact mean what he or she says on the campaign trail, then how could one ever trust him or her?), but I guess that I want to reiterate what others have written here: (a) people vote for their preferred candidate for a number of reasons; and (b) cluelessness is neither necessarily racist nor misogynist. Your friend might just be ignorant of your community’s past and present history – and maybe friendship with you might be good for her. I think of research (several years old now, I think) that found that people with at least one unclosed gay friend were much less likely to be homophobic than people who thought that they did not know any LGBT people. Not that it’s your job to educate her, but sometimes just chatting with someone can do wonders for their world view. But as I wrote, it all depends on her FB posts. If she cheers on Trump’s infrastructure proposals, that’s one thing; if she has been circulating some of the horrible racist or misogynist memes I have seen, that’s another.

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks so much for this post. You hit the nail on the head many times here, and I appreciate that. Unlike other opposing candidates for the presidency, Trump was especially brutal, unkind, uncivil and mean — to put it mildly. As a woman, I feel that I was insulted and disrespected throughout the campaign — and every day seemed to bring another less than civil comment from Trump.

      I am willing to make peace and give things a chance to settle. But I am deeply hurt — still — that there are Trump supporters out there who don’t understand that some people were insulted by him, and that we need to heal. I am asking my Trump supporting friends to bear with me, to try to understand that I cannot simply overlook some of the things he said during the campaign. If ANYONE in your life were to call you names and make you feel marginalized — politics aside — would you look forward to spending time with them?

      • Darlene says:

        Sandra, I’m a Canadian and was deely saddened by the election and the election results. I can only imagine what you must feel like.

        I’ve come to a place where I’m looking at the lessons of the election reulsts. Despite my own impressions, it turns out that many Trump supporters were not motivated by race issues,, they were voting for a variety of other reasons. Your friend may have been just like that. Whitby put it very well, is your friend racially, or policy motivated?

        You need time to regroup and I am so very sorry that some people have chosen to show their ugly side me threaten your community. That’s incredibly awful.

        I hope that your country takes some important lessons about the downside of polarized viewpoints, and is able to find some common ground and understanding going forward. Believe me, you are not alone in the world in being concerned about your President elect. All the best to you. 🙂

  6. Juju says:

    Reading all the comments about this election is heart breaking. I am a Christian but I don’t boast about it or put it in ppl’s faces. Yes we have a freedom of speech, but why do many have to express through hatred, anger and riots. So many people are being hurt through riots, words, actions because DT won. You have to remember that the ppl of America voted for him by a land slid. He may not be a perfect example of what a president should be like. Ppl voted for him because he isn’t a politician and the American ppl are tired of the politicians. We all have to do is pray for our country, talk to your families and friends. It makes me sad to think that if you were friends before this election, why wouldn’t you not remain friends. We all have differences and that is what makes us uniquely made. It’s not about us all the time. We all can make this country and better place if we would work together to make it great again.
    Enough of what I think.

    • whitby says:

      Juju, Trump didn’t win by a landslide, and that’s part of the problem. Trump will conceivably have 290 electoral votes, Clinton 232. At present Clinton has won the popular vote by a margin of 1 million votes (I think). And only 55% of the electorate voted. So this election’s results illustrate how fundamentally divided we are as a nation (and how some of us are alienated from the political process and/or just don’t care).

      And the ongoing demonization of the “MSM” (aka the mainstream media) and nationwide outlets such as CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC News, etc., as well as the role that Facebook has played in the dissemination of demonstrably false news (and is likely to play, unless Zuckerberg wakes up and addresses the problem), is likely to increase this polarization. People now get a lot of their “news” (and a lot of confirmation bias) from online sources that lack the resources to pay for investigative journalism and as a result re-circulate all sorts of material that should probably be called creative non-fiction.

      It’s paranoia-inducing: every time I interact with someone person-to-person, I find myself wondering if the apparently friendly person in front of me has what I would regard as a cringe-inducing internet life dominated by alt-right misogyny and anti-Semitism. And it has become virtually impossible to have intelligent person-to-person conversations about anything even remotely controversial. For God’s sake, we can’t even agree anymore on what a fact is! I am witnessing the death of our public sphere, and I fear the death of our democracy. And I blame the internets, and our own intellectual laziness. Point being: I will pray, but that’s not really going to fix our problems.

    • OP says:

      For what it’s worth, I’m not even sure how this conversation became about the political culture of American Protestantism. The woman in question professes Catholicism.


    • Sharon Anderson says:

      JuJu, please note, in regards to your comment “People voted for him by a landslide,” that is not true. He lost the popular vote. More actual people voted for Clinton. Just an FYI.

  7. marinakis says:

    so ladies, trump is a “xenophobic” “hatefull”,”racist” etc for what?..for telling the truth?…the majority of drug trafficing is coming from were? canada?..the majority of terrorist attacks are coming from were?…all jobs that have been lost went were?..see, the thing is that people are used to politicians lieing, and as soon as someone comes along and says the truth, this is what happens!
    i don”t agree with everything trump says, but if he has a major disadvantage, it’s that he has no prior political experience whatsoever, and that is not good, for someone commander in chief of usa, and the world we can say…even hillary said we have to give him a chance, so since he is the winner of these democratic elections, patience is what people have to have!

  8. Nancy says:

    To all of you who are using this blog on friendship as a political-bashing forum, I ask you who is out there in the streets creating destruction in their path, stopping traffic, and spewing hate?

    Did all this happen eight years ago when BO was elected? No. There were plenty of us who were not happy and scared about that, but no friendships were dropped and no cities were damaged.

    While I do not vote the way you do, I am not anything like what you are describing in your messages and majority of the others who voted the same are not either. I voted for the anti-corruption candidate this time around. Christians are not trying to enforce anyone into their religion but they do want to be able to practice it in peace.

    In 2007/08, I actually voted for Hillary against BO in the primary, but that was before I started paying attention and learning what the candidates and politicians were really like. The Clinton Foundation is under investigation since 2015 for corruption by the FBI and IRS to name just two. But that’s ok with you right?

    Do some research on your own instead of listening to what the MSM want you to believe. The Democratic party historically is the party that was for slavery and it was the Republicans who wanted to do away with it. Andrew Jackson, a Democrat was responsible for tricking and stealing away Indian land to sell at a profit for himself. When others at the time were not happy with that, they split off and became the Republican party.

    Between the corruption and hidden health issues, Hillary wouldn’t have lasted four years in office.

    • OP says:

      Hi! OP here. I’ve been readings this blog for years, and Irene frequently speaks to issues of a “the personal is the political” nature such as disputes between friends of varying faiths, and issues between childfree women and their friends with children. This is no deviation from the norm.

      You clearly feel strongly about your politics, so I hope you are engaging in open, respectful discussion with people you encounter online and off.


    • Sharon says:

      HI Nancy,
      Your point is valid. Another example is the Roe V. Wade decision, legalizing abortion. Roe v. Wade faced six Republican-appointed Justices, five of whom ruled in favor.

  9. Mary says:

    “How do I back away from this friendship? I still care about her as an individual, and I know she suffers from social anxiety. I’ve already pulled the “Oh, I didn’t get your text” gambit. I care about her, but I just can’t do it.”

    I think it is respectful to her to tell her the truth, that you are coming to terms with not only the election results but finding out the surprising truth in the hearts of individuals that you considered to be friends, some considered to be close friends.

    However she processes this truth is on her, not you. You are not responsible for her mental state. If fallout or ghosting happens, at least you were honest.

  10. LauraSL says:

    I feel your pain. One thing to keep in mind is that Conservative Christians will usually vote Republican no matter who the candidate is, because the Republican candidate is the pro-life candidate. They are not hateful, bigoted people but they are pro-life and they vote that way no matter who is running and what other aspects of the candidate’s platform include. I have one good friend in particular who falls into this category, and I have been trying to avoid her lately, at least until things hopefully settle down. We are having lunch Friday and I am a little stressed, but I made it a weekday since I have my “lunch hour” as an excuse to limit our time. I have decided that I will not talk politics with her, and if she brings up the election, I’m going to tell her it’s best if we don’t discuss it. She is a kind person and a great friend but I need to have this boundary.

    • Sandra says:

      That’s true, Laura. The Christian conservatives in my community also want us to become “a Christian nation” and have Christian prayer instituted in the schools, and only Christian holidays acknowledged and celebrated. Their words, not mine.

  11. Sandra says:

    This whole election cycle has been a nightmare. Joanne, I too am deeply shocked and upset by the fact that a man like Trump would be elected to the presidency of our country — especially after all the hateful rhetoric of his campaign. I wonder what’s ahead for our poor country, as well as our individual relationships. One thing I know for sure: It is not possible to pour pink paint over any of this, or to “move on” as if nothing happened. Many of my friends are physically sick over it.

    My heart breaks for friends in minority groups. And, as a woman who has been sexually harassed at work several times in the past and had to leave a job because of a predator-boss, I cannot fathom how any Republican friend can so easily dismiss the pain and shock that women and minorities (and so many other people) are feeling right now.

    Sad to say, I have noticed a sudden rise in hate crimes and anti-minority episodes in my otherwise peaceful community, and it frightens me. Trump’s “victory” has been implicated in every episode, and many children have been expelled from school because of their actions. (I can only assume they echo the bigotry of their parents.)

    I tend to agree with Amy on this one too. This election has revealed and exposed the true “character” of many people who’ve kept their hate and bigotry hidden in the past. I am especially disappointed in friends who call themselves “Christians” and supported Trump’s agenda. I began distancing myself from their questionable “rhetoric” a year ago, when I saw this coming. I plan to avoid them as much as possible, and to spend my time strengthening the friendships that are positive and uplifting — friendships that share my worldview and values.
    This election, for me, has separated the wheat from the chaff.

    I have coworkers or family members who “disagree” with me on this, and I am working to find a way to get along with them as peacefully as possible — given that I don’t have the option to totally avoid them.

    But friendship is a choice, as Irene always says. Over the past week, I have pulled back from everyone but close friends and family members who are “in my camp,” so to speak. I am feeling too raw and angry right now to deal with anyone I know who voted for Trump. I know that probably isn’t fair or mature, but I need time. Lots of time to get over this.

    Just as we choose our values, we choose our friends. This election is not just about Democrats vs Republicans. It is about who we are as people. We have a right to spend our time with good, kind-hearted, open-minded people who reflect our core beliefs and values. The way I see it, sometimes that means leaving old friends behind if they choose to support hatred and bigotry. Life is too short to do otherwise.

    • Irene (the other one) :) says:

      Sandra – believe you me, not every one who claims to be Christian truly is. Jesus himself said, “not all those who say Lord, Lord shall inherit the kingdom of heaven – ONLY THOSE WHO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER.” If someone says he loves God, but fail to show love for his ‘brother’ that person is not a child of God, because God is love.

      The rhetoric one hears from white republicans in America is hard to understand, it certainly lacks compassion and kindness towards the weak in society. (Europeans find this difficult to stomach). For lack of knowledge they spew out the most appalling lies about other nations, which sadly many white Americans believe. Bush senior once denigrated the Swedish system during an election rally, (I think it was for his son) – saying that if they voted for the democratic candidate at the time, life would be dreadful, like it is in Sweden (high taxes). I tell you, if every American had as good a lifestyle as they have in Sweden, and the other Scandinavian countries, the Americans would’ve been greatly blessed!!! However, let’s not spend too much time despairing over the US election results. Wait and see. When Nixon came in, some of the white Americans that I knew then, presumably republicans, hailed him as their ‘saviour.’ Now… we all know what happened to him, don’t we?

    • Rebecca says:

      I agree with you, Sandra. True character is revealed by the company one keeps. And the people comfortable with Trump feel like my enemy. My husband voted for Trump. He laughed when I said that we are divorced in soul. He thought I was kidding. It has come to my attention that my husband hates Muslims and sees Trump as a conduit for eliminating them. He is comfortable with the Trump rhetoric about women and says that is not an issue. I swear I am not voting again. I will not make myself sick with grief like this. I have given up.

      • Sandra says:

        Rebecca, please don’t ever give up on our country. I am trying to work toward healing, but I know it’s hard. Luckily, my husband and children are in my camp, always hoping for the BEST for ALL people who live in our nation and support its values.

        Trump keeps changing his story and his “tune” as each day goes by. Our heads are spinning, and we’re not sure WHAT he really stands for these days. I think his supporters are wondering too! My worst fear is that his lack of government experience and his bad temper will get us into trouble. Not to mention the conflicts of interest with his many businesses around the world. We hope and pray for the best for all of us.

  12. Amy F says:

    To me, voting for a president who is xenophobic, hateful and bragged about sexual assault is a deal breaker. Even if that friend doesn’t espouse those views personally, her vote, in my opinion, is veiled tacit approval for such speech. It’s saying, I care less how he treats YOU(me, everyone) than I do his politics. That’s unacceptable to me. Look at the people by whom Trump is surrounding himself. To me losing a Trump supporter friend transcends politics, it’s about decency and respect.

    I’ve unfriended acquaintances such as former classmates and people I met on FB, but no one who was a close friend. I had a message from a former high school acquaintance this morning saying even though he voted for Trump, he supported LGBT. I appreciated his words and told him so and then told him why in a bit more detail that I said in the previous paragraph. I have no ill will for him and I don’t dislike him, I just don’t want to be FB friends.

    You need to do what you need to do to protect yourself, both physically and emotionally.

    I would be honest with her. Tell her you need space and why. That way you’re not ending the friendship, but giving yourself a chance to see whether you can tolerate some level of friendship with her, since you have a history. Don’t make big decisions. There are plenty of progressive people who would open their hearts to a friendship with you. Are you joining the FB groups Pantsuits Nation for your area? The one in my area already has a meet-up and action planned.

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