How to Talk to (and Even Live With) Your Political Opposite

Are your political views getting you unfriended on Facebook? Do you find yourself retreating to your particular bubble, even at the expense of relationships? Well, imagine being married to your political opposite. Now, imagine it actually working. Today’s guest, psychologist Dr. Jeanne Safer, has accomplished just that for 40 years. This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen and Dr. Safer discuss political mixing and how to make it work.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
2-minute read
Episode #211

Political discussions can be, shall we say, passionate. But for an increasing number of friends, family members, and partners, they can be stressful and downright divisive. A recent Pew Research survey found that almost half of liberal Democrats—47 percent—say that knowing a friend voted for Trump would put a strain on their friendship. 

Enter author and podcast host Dr. Jeanne Safer. Dr. Safer has been a psychotherapist in New York City for 44 years. She is also a veteran of a politically mixed marriage; she's a liberal Democrat married to a conservative Republican. And not just any conservative Republican—her husband is a Senior Editor of the leading journal of conservative opinion, National Review. But together, they’ve learned to deal with their gigantic political differences on issues from abortion to gun control to assisted suicide because they agree about almost everything else, especially core values that are more important than politics. 

Dr. Safer is the author of six books on “taboo topics”—what so many people think about, but nobody talks about—like choosing not to be a parent, problem siblings, positive effects of parent’s death, the fact that forgiveness isn’t always necessary, and the many varieties of love. 

Her new book, I Love You, but I HATE Your Politics, based on 50 interviews and her own story, will be published by St. Martin's Press in Spring 2019. If you can’t wait till then, her new podcast of the same name is out now, so check that out wherever you like to get your podcasts. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What’s more important in a relationship than political beliefs and how to tell who’s really got your back.
  • How to reconcile political beliefs and core values.
  • Strategies for engaging with someone with different political stripes, plus what not to do.
  • What we lose out on when we don’t engage with people with different values.
  • Communication strategies for interacting with people with differing political opinions whom we see infrequently or meet for the first time.

Be sure to subscribe to Jeanne’s new podcast, I Love You, But I HATE Your Politics wherever you like to get your podcasts. And be on the lookout for her book of the same name, which is out Spring 2019.

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen was the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast from 2014 to 2019. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her debut book, HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, was published in March 2018.