How To Date Someone With Different Political Views
It is the understatement of the century to say that President Trump has been doing some extremely un-presidential things lately. From taking two days to respond to the devastating events in Charlottesville to saying that a neo-Nazi march was not entirely the fault of neo-Nazis (???), it's hard to imagine how someone would ever be dating a Trump supporter during this volatile political climate. But the reality is, you can't help who you fall in love with. If you're a bleeding heart liberal dating someone who voted for Trump or who still supports whatever ideology he's pushing lately (or a Trump supporter dating someone who is in the midst of organizing another women's march), you're probably wondering how to date someone with different political views from your own.
I'm a pretty diehard liberal snowflake, and during the 2016 election season, I dated someone who leaned Republican. Looking back, it was actually a really rewarding experience. I was confronted with a perspective I didn't regularly get in my own social circle, and it helped me become a more critical, well-rounded person. But it also came with its own set of challenges that I would have never faced had I dated someone who was a liberal like me. Also, we ended up breaking up, so... take that as you will.
Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, says that it's absolutely possible to date someone who has differing political views. "It's not an easy situation," he admits. "But plenty of couples find satisfaction with their partners of different political views, and even have successful marriages."
Langston spoke with Elite Daily about some tips for how to keep your relationship happy if political differences might get in the way.
1. Be Open-Minded
Langston compares differing political views to any other difference. If you are OK with, say, the fact that you like to go out on the weekends and your partner likes to stay in, you should also be able to handle a difference in politics.
"In order to continue a loving and respectful relationship with your partner, you have to be open-minded to views that may be different from yours, in any situation. This should be no different in the instance of a controversial election," Langston says.
It can be extremely difficult to compare political differences to other kinds of differences if you believe someone's political views say a lot about the core of a person. But just like you learned to appreciate those occasional Friday nights in, it's possible your Republican partner will teach you something you didn't know about the economy. There's no harm in creating learning opportunities for yourself, if you feel that you're able to handle them right now.
"Listen to where your partner is coming from, and express interest in learning about their rationale," Langston says. "The best thing any of us can do is to remain curious and not judgmental, and seek to understand others with differing positions."
2. Remain Level-Headed During Political Conversations
It's totally understandable if you are past the point of feeling calm about politics. But if you're truly invested in your partner, you need find a way to talk about your differences that will make you feel sane. "While this may seem the most difficult task of all, maintaining level-headedness throughout the conversation will allow each of you to equally express your thoughts and opinions on the topic," Langston says.
On more than one occasion, I used to get angry while discussing the news or something I saw on Twitter with my ex-boyfriend. In the moment, letting my emotions run wild felt cathartic. But I felt horrible afterward. Letting myself lose control like that was not OK to do to someone I loved. We had much more eye-opening conversations when I controlled my temper.
Still, honesty in a relationship is always the best policy. If one of your partner's opinions really hurt you, you should absolutely "feel free to bring your full range of emotions to the table," says Langston. "The worst that could happen would be to agree to disagree, as long as you both value the relationship over these views."
If you simply can't agree to disagree, you need to accept that, too. (And see point #5.)
3. Establish Some Ground Rules
If you can't be civil with your partner while talking about politics, it may be necessary to set some ground rules in your relationship. These rules may include not scrolling through Twitter while out to dinner, not sharing news articles over Gchat during the work day so that a casual conversation won't accidentally turn into a heated debate, or maybe avoiding the subject of politics altogether.
"If you and your partner cannot maintain a reasonable, civil conversation around the topic of differing political views, it may be best to take a safe approach: declare the subject off-limits," Langston says.
There's nothing wrong with doing this. We can't expect our partners to serve every single one of our needs. If you need to bounce your political views off of your friends or read The New York Times alone, don't feel like you're keeping a part of your life from your partner — you're just doing what works best for your relationship. Besides, you likely have plenty of other things to talk about with your partner. "When it comes to spending time with your partner, limit the conversation to other topics including religion, your relationship, values, goals, your favorite hobbies, work, and so on," Langston says.
4. Seek Ways To Get Involved On Your Own
If you're dating someone with differing political views, you may feel powerless. If you can't change the mind of the most important person in your life, how can you really affect change on a larger scale?
Well, there's lots of ways you can get involved politically without your partner, if you weren't already. Doing so will help you feel like you are making a difference. "If you are not happy with the direction things in the country are going, ask yourself, what can I do, that is in my control, to improve the situation? Can you volunteer for an organization that aligns with your beliefs?" Langston says.
Surround yourself with other likeminded people who will make you feel like you're doing something worthwhile for your specific cause. And it really is OK if one of those people is not your partner.
5. Consider If This Person Really Is Right For You
For some people, politics are not something they consider when they choose a partner. (It is a privilege to be able to exist in this world without needing to "get political," but that's a whole other article entirely.) But politics are extremely important to me. They come up in some way in many conversations I have on a day-to-day basis, and they reflect my core set of values that I use to navigate and interact with the world. Because of this, the more guys I've dated in my adult life, the more I have learned that I don't want to be with someone who has different political views from me. I need a fellow liberal snowflake. It just is what it is.
If dating someone who has different political views is draining your emotional resources too much, to the point where you're fighting all the time and you start to feel disgust towards your partner (which is the ultimate nail on the coffin in a relationship), maybe this person just isn't right for you. Or maybe you want someone who will be your political partner-in-crime — who will go to protests with you, get riled up with you when Trump says something outlandish, travel the country and make awesome documentaries with you. You're allowed to want who you want, which means you're allowed to break up with someone who doesn't serve your needs, even if those needs are political.
There are millions of people out there who share your political views, and who will make you feel supported, inspired, and connected to what matters most to you. You deserve to find one of them. And you will.
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