Recovering from the post-election relationship fallout.

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Let’s start with the good news. We managed to elect a president without starting a civil war, and the losing candidate wasn’t sent to the guillotines. Hooray for a peaceful transition of power!

But that was the easy part. No, seriously, it was.

Now we’ve got to clean up the damage from a year spent calling each other racists, fascists, deplorables, nasty women, et al.

Whether it was on social media or face-to-face, a lot of people on both sides of the political fence have hurled lots of monkey poo at each other.

The damage has been most noticeable online. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 27 percent of social media users have blocked or unfriended somebody for expressing a political opinion they vehemently disagreed with.

It’s just slightly better out in the real world. A Monmouth University Poll found that 7 percent of U.S. voters ended a friendship because of a political dustup. And 70 percent think the election cycle brought out the worst in people.

We conducted our own informal poll on Twitter, asking Men’s Health readers if they said or did anything during this election that they regret or wish they could take back. Among the thousands who responded, just 12 percent said yes, while 88 percent are pretty sure they’re guilt-free.

So, to recap, the vast majority of you have made only respectful, open-minded political observations that weren’t fueled by emotion. Yet the majority of other people have said something hurtful or insensitive.

This iffy math came as no surprise to Robert Sutton, Ph.D., a Stanford University professor and author of New York Times bestseller The No Asshole Rule.

“The assholes are always somebody else, never us,” he says. “National surveys of workplace bullying, for example, find over 50 percent of Americans have been bullied or witnessed others doing it, but less than one percent admit to ever bullying anyone.”

Which isn’t to say it’s all your fault. Of course it’s not. We’ve all been online. We’ve seen the vile political environment on Twitter. We have in-laws on Facebook who insist on posting links to questionable websites that prove that Hillary is at death’s door, or that Trump has Nazi connections.

We’re all surrounded by assholes trying to force their political opinions down our collective throats.

But just like us, those assholes don’t self-identify as assholes.

They’re not the bad guys in their personal narratives. They’re just “trying to educate people about the real issues.”

When assholes are attacked by other assholes for being assholes, they become even bigger assholes. It’s an endless cycle that’s been proven by science.

A 2015 study from the University of Florida found that rude behavior is as contagious as the common cold. When somebody starts sneezing “Crooked Hillary should be in prison,” it’s only a matter of time before everybody is hacking up unsolicited opinions.

So what comes next? Now that the election is over, and we’re no longer personally responsible for saving the Republic, should we be mending the broken fences we kicked in over these past few months?

Should the Facebook friends we’ve blocked or unfriended be welcomed back into the fold?

During the holiday family gatherings to come—we’re just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving—should we apologize to that Red State-residing uncle we called a racist horror show, or the aunt we accused of being on the wrong side of history?

Before you consider reparations and reconciliations, think long and hard about the relationships that’ve been injured. Are they actual acquaintances, or a friend of the mom of a guy who sat next to you in high school geometry?

If you can’t explain your connection to them without having to be reminded with a “Throwback Thursday,” then maybe you go ahead and let that friendship dissolve. You probably should have cut those ties sooner, but their “the system is rigged” rant is as good an excuse as any.

For everybody else, here are three things to remember going forward.

1. Don’t go into hiding.

Whether you blocked somebody on Facebook for being a political blowhard, or your last exchange with a relative involved the word “Hitlery” and slamming doors, it’s tempting to pretend it never happened, and just ignore that person for the rest of your (or their) life.

You may think you’re taking the high road, but becoming disengaged is just as damaging as coming at someone with anger, says Susan David, Ph.D., a Harvard Medical School psychologist and author of Emotional Agility.

“It’s a different way of being driven by our emotions,” she says. “There’s not much emotional difference between ‘I’m going to tell that guy what a jerk he’s been’ and ‘That guy is such a jerk, I’m going to cut him out completely.’”

When you hide, David says, you’ve stopped trying to exist in the world with other people.

Other people can be frustrating and complex and difficult and obnoxious, especially in their stubborn insistence on sometimes not sharing your exact beliefs on everything.

But being able to have civil, non-combative conversations with people you disagree with—particularly when your major disagreement is about an election that’s already been decided—is in some ways a litmus test for being a citizen.

Remember when Michelle Obama talked about going high when they go low? This is your chance to prove that her words are worth more than just an inspirational bumper sticker.

2. Forgive the temporary assholes.

In the heat of an ugly election, every asshole looks like fair game for elimination. When you’ve been on the receiving end of too many lectures about “what you’re not understanding,” it can be tempting to burn relationships to the ground and then salt the earth.

But during these irrational times, Sutton stresses the importance of distinguishing between certified assholes and temporary assholes.

“Certified assholes are people who consistently treat others like dirt,” he says. “But nearly all of us have become temporary assholes under the wrong conditions.”

This election has been divisive, and not because everyone in the country is a big, fat jerk.

People are passionate, and passion is like booze. Too much of it can turn even the most soft-spoken, well-intentioned person into an opinion-spewing jerks.

But just like intoxication, being politically passionate is a fleeting condition. We all eventually sober up and realize that memes about “pussy-grabbing” and private email servers accomplish nothing but alienating our friends.

The certified asshole doesn’t need the excuse of an election to be a terrible person. Long after we’ve all moved on, he or she will still be the one at the Christmas mixer loudly reminding you that “All lives matter.”

Feel free to make an exception to rule number one and nix that guy from your life.

3. Try some empathy.

“There’s this wonderful psychological research that shows we judge others based on their behaviors, but we judge ourselves based on our intentions,” says David.

“We say things like, ‘I didn’t call my mother, but I meant to, and I really care about her, so I’m still a good daughter.’ But if it was somebody else, we don’t see past the behavior. ‘They didn’t call their mom? What a monster!’”

Even if you haven’t been in a single political argument this year, or blocked anyone on social media because they wouldn’t shut up about how civilization will collapse if the wrong person is in the Oval Office, you’ve still been influenced by this very human bias.

When other people have political beliefs we don’t agree with, we silently judge them. They’re obviously just doing what [insert name of political party not your own] always do.

But our reasons for voting for a particular candidate are colored by a rich tapestry of hopes and good intentions. We care about the children! About saving the planet! We have so many complex feelings.

But “them”—the ones who make choices we find appalling—they might as well be zombies in a Walking Dead episode.

Empathy is hard. It’s not the same as agreeing. It’s not putting yourself into an intellectual place where you agree that a wall on the Mexico border is a super idea. But it does involve considering a person’s intentions rather than just their actions.

Actor Ryan Reynolds is a big believer in the power of empathy. It’s the secret to his four-year marriage to Blake Lively, and every meaningful relationship he’s ever had, whether with directors, family, or friends.

“When somebody says something that you completely disagree with, forget about your argument for a second,” Reynolds told us. “Try to go into their head and think, ‘Oh, I can imagine seeing it this way. I can imagine how what I said might fucking piss him off.’”

Getting to that place isn’t easy. “It can be horrible,” the Deadpool star admits. “The absolute worst. Sometimes it feels like you’re going to die. Like you’ll literally die if you back down and stop fighting. You know that you’re so right and they’re so wrong, and it hurts your soul a little to not be constantly reminding them how wrong they are.

“If you can manage to get past that and inside their head, and really see the situation through their eyes, all the anger you were feeling will dissipate. Trust me on this, it really does. It just lifts like a storm cloud. It’s kind of amazing.”

Let’s all try that this month. Un-block the Facebook friend you dismissed as a Bernie bro and look for a common ground.

When you come home for Thanksgiving, have a conversation with your uncle that doesn’t involve reminding him how he’s been watching the wrong cable news channel, and why you’re pretty sure he hates anybody with brown skin.

Of course it’ll be hard. Maybe even excruciating. They’ve all been such assholes lately. But hey, who hasn’t?

[This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in Men’s Health.]