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Relationships, Resources

Loving Across Party Lines: Tips for Interpolitical Couples

Do you and your sweetheart repeatedly cancel out each other’s votes in the elections? Well, join the party. I consider myself a Libertarian and lean to the left when I must due to my upbringing, while my partner is as far right-winged as they come. I won’t even venture to say that we’ve got all the logistics of that mess figured out, but we’re working on it.

It takes a lot of work to be in an interpolitical relationship…and a lot of tongue-biting to say the least. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Can we make it work even though we don’t agree on politics?”, then these tips are for you.

Don’t Try to Change Them

As a young woman, I found myself marching around campus saying I was a non-feminist Republican, mostly because at the time, I was dating a military man. Flash forward 7 years and I find myself in a completely different political belief system but again, dating someone who’s a Republican. The difference here is that not long after we started dating, he told me, “I won’t ever pressure you to be a Republican and I won’t let you change your beliefs to suit mine.” This made me feel respected and secure in our budding relationship. Of course, a couple years down this road, this hasn’t stopped either of us from thinking about how much easier life would be if we agreed. But, trying to change something we knew about each other from the start seemed like a pretty big waste of time that would only lead to pain, resentment, and likely the end of our relationship.

Listen and Learn

One thing that I find to be (dare I say?) a benefit of dating someone of opposite political beliefs is the ability to ask a question about a new policy or issue and get a different side of information. The media is pretty skewed nowadays, so when we log on, usually we’re really only getting one side of the story—a delicious smoothie of everything we want to hear that will either set us at ease or get us fired up. It really is pretty difficult to find unbiased news sources, no matter how hard you look. Luckily, I trust and respect my partner enough to say, “Will you tell me about the new tax reform and why it’s good?” and know that I’m getting an honest answer from him. It’s incredibly important to remember that your partner’s opinions are valid, even if you don’t always agree with them.

Look for Things That Unify You

There’s a reason you two are together. You learned so much about each other that you fell in love and decided that was enough to look past your different political beliefs. So when politics come rearing their ugly head, it’s best to be respectful of your partner’s opinion and change the subject to something you can both agree on. Maybe you both agree on abortion rights. Maybe you both do yoga, have Christian beliefs, or really love that show you just started on Netflix. Focus on the things that unify you, rather than the ones that tear you apart.

Last Resort: Make Politics Off Limits

I put this as a last resort for one reason: Couples should be able to have civil, respectful conversations about controversial things. But if the wearing gets too thin, maybe you need to make politics off limits at home—or, if you’re really bad about scrolling through social media in bed and getting really riled up about a news article, maybe decide together to say no to politics or cell phones in the bedroom. It’s okay to set boundaries. After all, you don’t want to have 2 political signs in your yard during the next election—the neighbors might start to worry.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin said it best. When it comes down to it, we all just want to feel respected by our partners. It’s okay to just agree to disagree. After all, your fight at home won’t change the landscape of the United States.

If you can’t kiss someone who disagrees with you—if you can’t love someone who disagrees with you—you’ve failed a basic mark. You are—well, you’re a bigot.” – Nate Hopper, Time Magazine Online

Do you and your partner have differing political views and killer ways to handle it?

Let us know in the comments!

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  • Reply Lauren March 14, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I was in a relationship like this as well. However, I WISH it was as educational as this was. My partner was one of the “Fox News” only kind of people, and this is nothing against Republicans, but he was not an educated one. I would find copies of actual bills and quotes and videos and he blatantly denied all of it. This was a deal breaker for me. Mostly because I couldn’t handle someone who wouldn’t accept and understand when they were wrong, like I did, when he showed me something that I didn’t know. There’s a fine line!

  • Reply Katie March 29, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    I simply couldn’t imagine dating someone who voted for candidates who were anti-choice, those who didn’t believe in climate change or, god forbid, bragged about grabbing women by their genitalia. How in the world do you take someone like that seriously, let alone introduce him to your friends and family? No amount of yoga or Netflix could get you past that.

    • Reply Jolena Mauch March 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Hey Katie! Thanks for your message. I totally understand that something like this could be really hard for some people and know that interpolitical relationships certainly aren’t for everyone. Another one of my tips for couples in this situation is to always separate your partner from their political parties leader. If a politician or news anchor makes a comment, your partner may hold a different opinion. Just because they voted for someone, doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree 100% with the person. It is all about balance and focusing most on where you two agree, rather than what may tear you apart!

  • Reply Caryn April 6, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    This is kind of an interesting article, but I wonder how applicable it would be to most inter-political relationships. I’m also from Oklahoma originally, and most Libertarians I knew there already leaned pretty far right compared with what makes someone liberal or even moderate in larger cities (and not just the coastal elites, as I spent most of the last decade in Houston). I also assume the author’s own history as a “non-feminist Republican” means she still has more fundamentally in common with her far-right Republican partner than someone who had always held more liberal viewpoints would. But I suppose what would I know, as I work in the “pretty skewed” media — which, by the way, is a conservative talking-point.
    Basically, it sounds like while the author disagrees with her partner on how to achieve certain political goals, she still holds a lot of values in common with him. I’d be interested to know whether she has ever seriously dated someone with far-left political views, because if not, it sounds like there isn’t much truly inter-political about these tips.
    If the author does read this comment, I apologize if my comment seems overly-critical! I just have my own thoughts on how feasible truly inter-political relationships are considering the current level of opposition between the major parties. Also, from one writer to another, it’s jarring to read a piece that sounds interesting to you personally and have the author reflexively dismiss the people in your industry as bad-faith actors. Imagine if in your comment about tax reform, you’d said something about how you can’t trust accountants!

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