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!