Does it feel like political conversations are inescapable these days? Everywhere you turn, people are talking about the latest primary debate or news story coming out of Washington, D.C.. With an election looming in 2020, it's probably not going to get any better. These discussions are undoubtedly important, but sometimes they can also cause real fatigue. That can be especially true if they're happening in your own home with a partner who stands across the political aisle. If your partner’s political views bother you, that can definitely put a strain on the relationship, as Julie Spira, an online dating expert and author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships, tells Elite Daily.
"Before the 2016 election, bipartisan relationships were more common, as couples were concerned about their next vacation, or where they'd be hanging out after going to the movies," Spira explains. "Now, knowing what side of the aisle your partner is on isn't just about which party you support, but it's about having common values as it relates to immigration, healthcare, the environment, women's issues, gun safety, and more."
Spira says it's becoming increasingly common for people to avoid dating across the political spectrum altogether. She polled singles about their willingness to date someone with opposing political views, and the results were clear. "The majority, 68% said no, with 28% saying yes," says Spira. "I also polled singles to find out if they'd date someone who didn't vote [...] during the midterm elections. The results were alarming, with 87% saying they wouldn't date someone who didn't vote, and only 13% saying they would, showing that politics plays a crucial role in relationships."
But what if you're already in a bipartisan relationship and your differing world views are putting a strain on your connection? That's a much trickier question. Here's how Spira suggests addressing it.
If you’ve started to dread discussing certain topics with your partner or are going out of your way to avoid various conversations because you know they will veer into political territory, that can be really hard on you emotionally, and on the relationship itself. “There's nothing worse than being silenced or feel like you're walking on eggshells when you're with your partner,” says Spira. If this is resonating with you, then it's time to do something about it, she adds. “If you find their political beliefs are taking center stage in your relationship, you have to speak up,” Spira advises. You can start by trying to understand which issues are important to your partner. “The best approach is to say, 'There's so much I love about our relationship, but I'm uncomfortable with your support (or lack of) for our President. Can you tell me which issues you feel strongly about?' By focusing on the issue rather than on their political identity they are less likely to get defensive and you may even be able to find some common cause," says Spira.
It can also help to remind yourself why you’re with your partner in the first place, as Spira previously told Elite Daily. “If you’re in a relationship with your political opposite, it’s time to take inventory on why you fell in love in the first place,” she suggested. The next step is to create boundaries around political conversations between you. “To thrive as a couple, it’s important to decide how much time you’ll devote to talking about politics in your relationship," Spira said. "If you set a timer for 15 minutes, and it can only occur in the living room or kitchen, when the time runs out, it’s time to change the conversation. Take the time to agree to disagree on minor issues, and if you get into a flow that works for you, then your relationship can survive,” she added. "If you devote a minority of the time to discuss politics, it won’t take over your life.”
Ideally, opening up to your partner about how you are feeling about your political divide will be the first step in the right direction for your relationship. However, if your partner isn’t open to hearing what you need, it may be time to consider what that means for the two of you moving forward, says Spira. “While you don't have to agree on everything, these are treacherous times with the collision of love and politics,” she notes. “Finding a like-minded political love interest might make you happier in the long run, and if you choose that route, I suggest you mention it in your dating profile. A simple, ‘Swipe left if you voted right,’ or wearing a Women for Trump or MAGA hat should become part of your dating strategy.”
While ending your bipartisan relationship may not be the ideal outcome, it's good to remember that moving on is possible. It just comes down to doing what’s right for you and what makes you happiest and healthiest. For some people, that means going their separate ways, but for others it's about finding a balance and focusing on what you have in common rather than your differences. Love is love, even across party lines. (And make sure you’re registered to vote and ready to hit the polls!)