An experience-based, reasonable response for all of those who ask themselves whether opposing political views inevitably announce the end of a romantic relationship, the severing of a familial tie or that of a friendship, Dr. Jeanne Safer’s new book “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics” is a guide on how to manage your social connections in a divisive political climate.
When a St. Martin’s Press representative invited me to read and review “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics” I immediately welcomed the opportunity since the subject of the book is closely related to one of my main interests: finding ways to not only build bridges between people and groups that hold fundamentally opposing views on topics that have the potential to generate powerful emotional reactions and divides, but also cross them from both directions.
Religious beliefs, sexuality, and of course, politics, are some of the subjects that trigger the most heated arguments and inform radical personal and social decisions, so I was definitely interested to read about the solutions psychotherapist Jeanne Safer considered for couples, friends, and relatives who found themselves on different political realms.
“I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics” is mainly a collection of examples of contexts that involve people with opposing political views – relevant especially to the American political scene, but applicable to the global population – and their journey from political adversaries to considerate, empathetic companions and friends.
The nine chapters of the book not only offer confirmation that this can be done but also present the various ways in which the desired result can be achieved.
If you are looking for a guide on how to analyze and approach saving a relationship endangered by politics, then Dr. Safer’s book is definitely for you.
The diversity of real-life stories covered in “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics”, including that of the author, offer a good range of experiences the reader can relate to and this is important, especially since Dr. Safer powerfully advocates self-analysis as a main element in the relationship-recovery and maintenance processes. She also writes about the importance of one’s willingness to change and take the appropriate steps to bring about the aspired outcome.
If you start the book thinking that the other one’s views are the problem, you will most likely change your opinion while reading Dr. Safer’s analysis because she will also show you how to discover what the personal or relational issue hiding behind the politics mask actually is. You will learn how to assess your behavior and role in the tensioned relationship, how to analyze your emotions and will also be given a set of recommendations for couples who struggle to overcome the political views and save their relationship.
I have to mention here that I do not agree with, nor endorse some of the recommendations presented by the author, simply because I consider them based on avoidance behaviors and believe that this type of approach would rather lead to bottled-up frustration in the long run. At the same time, I do understand that the solutions to a complex problem are not necessarily of the simple and extremely clean or straightforward type. Individuals and couples must decide for themselves what reasonable compromise looks like, what is indeed a deal-breaker and which processes they are willing to go through, together.
I also believe the book would have benefitted greatly from a more generous presentation of the psychological aspects that support Dr. Safer’s views. As a psychologist, I understand where they mainly come from, I can recognize the various theoretical approaches that informed the analysis and the recommended techniques, but without the proper introduction of terms and concepts I believe that readers not familiar with these aspects may erroneously label the text as ‘opinion’, when in fact there’s more to it than that.
This being said, I recommend “I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics” by Dr. Jeanne Safer to everyone interested in how to manage social interactions when fundamentally opposing views seem to jeopardize these otherwise healthy and nurturing connections. It is a great read for all audiences because we need to start talking about uncomfortable things to make them more approachable and less powerful.
These are discussions we’ll be having for a while… Be prepared.
“I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics” is available in Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, and MP3 CD formats starting June 11, 2019. You can Look Inside or buy the book here:
P.S. This is not a commercial endorsement. I get no commission from the sales of this book. A representative of St. Martin’s Press invited me to read and honestly review the book for Psychology Corner. My review is based on an advance copy of the book.
Photo Source: Copyright (C) St. Martin’s Press, All Points Books. Used with publisher’s permission.